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Conduits to United Communities: Katherine Maxwell and Hivewild

Hivewild in 'RAFT'. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett..
Hivewild in 'RAFT'. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett.

“The body is the medium through which we create art.”

The quote above is the first thing you see when you go to contemporary dance company Hivewild’s website. The next line states, “Hivewild is a Contemporary Movement Initiative. Our vision is movement-based artworks acting as conduits to create more united communities.”

Katherine Maxwell. Travis Emery Hackett.

Katherine Maxwell. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett.

As I imagine the same is for you, I was intrigued by these words…drawn in. The words almost create their own presence and aesthetic for Hivewild without even viewing any movement at all. 

The woman behind the words and elegant phrasing is Hivewild Founder/Director/Choreographer Katherine Maxwell. Here, she speaks with Dance Informa about Hivewild’s ultimate intention, her dance influences and creating site-specific work. 

When and where did you begin dancing?

“Since I was born, I’ve been moving and grooving. I suppose my parents could tell you best, but my form of expression has always come naturally through my muscles and bones. My classical training began when I was three years old in Marietta, Georgia.”

Who was your biggest dance influence growing up?

Hivewild in 'Here You Me'. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett

Hivewild in ‘Here You Me’. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett.

“Honestly, I didn’t have one particular idol growing up. I loved watching musicals, though! 

I daydreamed often about the characters who expressed themselves in song and dance. When I wasn’t in ballet/gymnastics/theater/art classes, I spent my free time in the woods and climbing trees around my house. I so clearly remember getting lost in my big imagination, pretending to be in all kinds of other worlds. That imagination and creativity I feel are what kept me dancing.”

When did you decide to move to New York City, and why?

“As I was preparing to graduate college, I was curious to learn more about the NYC scene considering it’s known as a major hub for dance in the U.S. So, I headed up to NYC in June of 2012.”

When did you found your NYC-based company Hivewild?

“I founded Hivewild in 2016, as a platform for creating formal works, support artistic partnerships and engage with the New York community.”

What is Hivewild’s mission?

“Hivewild was created with the intention of encouraging a humble space where a diverse audience is hosted in the spirit of movement acting as a conduit for conversation and community engagement. Hivewild takes as a starting point the foundational belief that all humans are inextricably interconnected. Every creature is part of the same existential fabric. Given this, how can we learn to acknowledge the contingent nature of human life, and affect it for the better? 

Hivewild in 'Savage'. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett.

Hivewild in ‘Savage’. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett.

Hivewild does so by encouraging and displaying vulnerability, empathy, humor, joy and difficulty. We believe that by tuning in to oneself, allowing oneself to feel and experience sensation – whether emotional, physical or spiritual – we become softer creatures more capable of accessing compassion and understanding. Hivewild creates works to prompt human connection, to unlock emotion, and to encourage audience members and performers to be here now, together.”

What is your greatest inspiration when beginning the creative process for a new work?

“I consistently find inspiration comes from observations and feelings that beg for a voice. As these thoughts swell, the puzzle pieces of a project develop and start to come together. Inspiration motivates conversation among artistic collaborators who share a mutual interest to be involved. From there, the work begins…”

What are some challenges you face owning and directing your own dance company?

“We recently became a non-profit, which has proved to be very rewarding but certainly a lot of work. In the midst of this transition, I’ve found challenge in striking a balance between administrative tasks and creative development. I’m so grateful, though; the Hivewild team has been incredibly supportive. We’re making exciting strides!”

Hivewild in 'Pathx'. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett.

Hivewild in ‘Pathx’. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett.

What is the most rewarding part about owning and directing your own dance company?

“Establishing Hivewild brought freedom to drive the platform toward a vision which I genuinely believe in while advocating for artists to earn wages for their creative work. It’s a true gift. Most importantly, to be surrounded by such love and enthusiasm in the name of art means the absolute world!”

Why site-specific works? What is it about being in open space?

“Although we’re not limited to working in alternative spaces, Hivewild values equally the option of presenting site-based projects. 

It’s essential to give thoughtful consideration to environment, as it plays a pivotal role in informing a developing piece. When subscribing to a work outside a traditional setting, I believe the viewer has an opportunity to embrace the unknown and to surrender to a more vulnerable experience with endless possibilities.”

How do you go about coordinating/choreographing site-specific works? How long is the process from conception to performance?

“Each project uniquely unfolds. Amongst the sprouting of a concept, finding a space often triggers strong forward momentum. From there, we begin to gather artists and collaborators. Conversations and studio time typically follow. Depending on the scale of the work, the dancers and I spend several months in process exploring movement. Time is split between research and idea sharing. The closer we move toward a premiere, more time is spent with the entire team marrying the work from different artistic mediums. It’s always a dream to have everyone together. The culmination of a process is such a special time.”

Hivewild in 'RAFT'. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett.

Hivewild in ‘RAFT’. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett.

What is a long-term goal for your company Hivewild?

“Ah, the possibilities are endless and the dreams are big! I’m staying open and available to see how time unfolds.

Hivewild is working now to accomplish our initial goals, which include the development of large-scale, collaborative projects while integrating more deeply into the community.” 

What do you consider to be your greatest dance accomplishment so far?

“Honestly, I’m most proud of choosing passion over security. Simply making the choice to fully embrace working as an artist despite the challenges that arise.”  

Hivewild in 'Savage'. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett

Hivewild in ‘Savage’. Photo by Travis Emery Hackett.

What is some advice for young dancers and choreographers wanting to create their own company?

“For those who aspire to dance professionally, a super strong technical foundation is imperative. Stay in ballet! 

Dedicate yourself to listening to the path you are being called. Your artistry will birth from you if that’s what is meant to come. There are a plethora of careers within the arts sector; you never know where you’ll find yourself.”

For more information on Hivewild, visit www.hivewild.com.

By Allison Gupton of Dance Informa.

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