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Style: Folsom | El Dorado Hills

CORE Contemporary Dance: Movement Matters

Dec 29, 2017 12:33PM

CORE, a non-profit contemporary dance company that serves three-year-olds to adults, began 11 years ago with the mission to inspire, educate and entertain, as well as promote the expression of the human experience through movement. Artistic Director Kelli Leighton, whose greatest passions are being an educator, teaching and creating, opened her studio, Leighton Dance Project, which now houses CORE, in 2013. Alongside their innovative full-length numbers, it’s the stellar outreach programs—from “student nights” at their concerts, to free adaptive classes every Friday for children with special needs along with their siblings, and after-school dance clubs—that CORE counts as their biggest accomplishment. 

HLB: Tell us more about CORE’s beginning.

KL: CORE started as a group of dancers looking to continue dancing and moving. At the time, Sacramento Ballet was the [only other professional company] in the area. [Since its inception], CORE has produced full-length works in various theaters and venues around the Greater Sacramento area, including the Harris Center, as well as in Brooklyn, Salt Lake City, and Pittsburgh. We’ve also developed strong outreach programs, including high school master classes with Emmy award-winning So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Mia Michaels. 

HLB: How does CORE achieve its mission? 

KL: The work CORE produces is inspired by the human condition, the struggles and triumphs that we all experience in our day-to-day life and as a society. Our audiences are left feeling something; no matter if they love it or hate it, we want them to leave a performance having an experience and be deep in thought. We also like to entertain our audiences and keep them wanting more. CORE loves the element of surprise. 

HLB: In what ways is CORE different from other dance companies?

KL: We’re the only dance company in the area with extensive outreach programs [who also creates] new full-length shows each season. Together, we explore our differences in the creative process and celebrate what makes us similar, [which] inspires the work. As a choreographer, I’m extremely inspired by my dancers. I use journaling in the process, allowing the dancers to express their views and feelings on certain subjects, [which] we discuss and let guide the creative process. It’s most definitely a collaborative effort.

HLB: How do you communicate to audiences through dance? 

KL: We’re all more similar than we sometimes like or want to believe. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: to be loved and accepted. Dance can be a vessel to bring an audience together for a couple hours and unite us in a thought-provoking way. I’ve always felt a good choreographer can get their point across in a non-literal way, leaving the door open for all ages and backgrounds to interpret what they need out of a performance and draw their own conclusions. It should always be a great conversation starter, and that’s what brings us together; communication is how we educate each other on concepts and develop understanding for each other, but it also opens the door to new ideas and appreciation for our common human experiences.

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