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Mountain Home Magazine

Choreographing Corning

Aug 08, 2018 05:11PM

Maia Mahosky’s first memories of dance are blurred moving images: older dancers’ point-shoe-clad feet and the hems of tulle dresses twirled around her. She was two years old, a diminutive student of ballet—and was crawling on the stage pretending to be a poodle.

Her family remembers her being so taken with the roses being thrown on stage for her dance instructor that she made a move to capture one for herself.

And Maia never stopped moving. Now twenty-five, she will lead a troupe of dancers on the evening of August 31 for Corning’s Urban Arts Crawl. Her dancers will perform in Maia’s Spaces Project at simultaneous hour-long performances at four locations throughout the Gaffer District: at the Centennial Sculpture; at the east end of Market Street; at Centerway Square; at the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes’ Evelyn Peeler Peacock Gallery; and at the Bridge Street green space just past Wegmans. The event is free, and all you have to do to enjoy it is show up at one of the performance locations, where you will be provided with a performance guide/map.

Maia, who grew up in Wellsboro, became increasingly serious about her studies, and by age ten added modern dance to her repertoire at 171 Cedar Arts in Corning, and then began coming up with her own dances. But it wasn’t until she attended Goucher College in Baltimore that she fully embraced choreography, which satis ed something lacking for her as a performer: her interest in the process, methodology, and conceptual elements of the dance for the dancer to interpret and convey to the audience. After two and a half years of rigorous training, Maia ventured to Ghana for an intensive independent study. A shift occurred in her mind as she embraced the joyful Ghanaian culture and re-embraced movement, celebrating dance as a part of socializing with others. Her philosophy has since evolved to be less concerned about what the choreography looks like as a final product and more focused on the process, conveying joy and adding elements of interaction with the audience.

Maia works in sales by day and teaches and performs on nights and weekends. Her teaching classes include ballet, modern, and West African at Rhythms Academy of Dance in Mans eld. Shortly after resettling in the Wellsboro area and getting married, this self-described “Type-A personality” initiated an ambitious series of site-specific pieces she calls the Spaces Project. She  first pitched her idea to Corning’s Gaffer District’s Executive Director Coleen Fabrizi, and was quickly connected with the organizers of the Urban Arts Crawl, a collaboration begun in 2016 by the Rockwell Museum and the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes. It has since grown to include 171 Cedar A

rts, Exhibit A, West End Gallery, Card Carrying Books and Gifts, and Gustin’s Gallery Goldsmith and Jewelers—all coordinating to host various art happenings at each location on the final Friday of every month. These range from theatrical and musical performances to book signings and readings to art demonstrations.

The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes Executive Director Connie Sullivan-Blum explains that they are less interested in numbers of attendees or total sales than they are about providing the community with meaningful interactions with the artists and showcasing what the artists have to offer. Maia shares a similar philosophy—her goal is less about perfecting the movements of her dancers and more about reaching her audience and providing an authentic experience. There couldn’t be a better fit.

Spaces Project celebrates life and movement in Corning, the inspiration coming from an article Maia read in Mountain Home magazine while serving as its advertising director. The article featured glassblower Julie Conway, who led a walking tour at GlassFest visiting different locations where she described her pieces. Maia hopes her audiences will see “different uses of the spaces beyond the day-to-day uses” and “people having fun in the space.”

The four performances are broken down into two solo acts by Kat Delorme and Beth Hesch, a duet with Maia and Josemar Maracujá Castillo, and a trio of Zoe Black, Julie Krawczyk, and Tamar Reisner-Stehman. Much of the music accompanying the dances will be live. Maia commissioned a piece of original music from Cuong Nguyen, a New York City-based composer, dancer, and choreographer—and a former Goucher classmate and frequent collaborator—so she could fuse music to her vision, “layer[ing] that on top of the dance.”

Once the project was underway, Maia quickly realized each space provided unique challenges. “[My] dancers aren’t used to dancing on uneven wood floors, brick, or concrete,” Maia says, “So choreographing these elements became central to each dance’s production. Dancing in a location such as an art gallery provides a unique opportunity to use the movement of the dancers as a further expression of the space’s use.”

Some pieces are designed to be interactive,” an unusual surprise for most people who are used to a more traditional experience of watching from afar. The maps will guide the audience to each venue, providing the possibility to experience all the performances.

She learned early on that making art happen is not easy. Beyond the years of artist training, there is also the coordination of legal, financial, and logistical details to manage. She refers to herself as “a creative with organization[-al skills.]”

Maia attributes her success in making her dream of the Spaces Project a reality to the support of her community partners and funding from the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, as well as in-kind donations of custom costumes by Pip’s Boutique and refreshments by Wegmans. You can join Maia and her dancers this month on the 31st from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. A reception and artist meet-and-greet follows from 6:30 to 7:30 at the ARTS Council’s Evelyn Peeler Peacock Gallery at 79 West Market Street. You can get more information at www.facebook.com/SpacesCorning.