Dancestry’s mission is to keep historical dance alive, accessible, relevant and in moving bodies. More than a history lesson, Dancestry is a holistic experience providing diverse audiences a rare opportunity to experience the fully produced choreography of these national dance treasures with light, music and costuming in live format. Dancestry connects audiences, dancers and choreographers across generations with a rich historical narrative, and a compelling contemporary voice.
In 2014, TxState dance faculty member Shay Ishii collaborated with colleague Meg Brooker to form Dancestry, a gathering of dancers exuberantly committed to illuminating our dance lineage and connecting us to our roots. It is a celebration of artistic heritage and revival of historic dance that keeps these works alive, accessible, and relevant. Dancestry showcases masterworks of 3 modern dance pioneers: Loïe Fuller, Isadora Duncan and Erick Hawkins.
Essential to the program are works by the collaborating artists who have embodied the techniques, philosophies and choreography of these icons and distilled those influences into vividly relevant dance for the Now. The continued discovery and reconstruction of lost works is vital to Dancestry and the world of dance at large. Documentation and increased accessibility of all Dancestry works are a critical to this project. All performances are documented for the future creation of a public digital archive; providing educators, researchers, and students an additional outlet to engage with these masterpieces.
Since Dancestry’s premiere in May 2015, we have reached over 4500 seasoned and newly minted dance history enthusiasts across Central Texas. Dancestry celebrated its 5th Anniversary concert in Austin, TX in June of 2019. TxState’s professional dance company, Opening Door Dance Theatre, has presented Dancestry in whole or in part since its inception. As part of our vision to inspire new audiences and artists, we have shared outreach performances with over 1800 Central Texas middle and high school performing arts students and local young audiences. Age-appropriate master classes in technique and repertory play an equally important role in allowing the community to embody the movement and philosophies of these pioneers.