Amanda Hart is coming home.
The dancer/choreographer, who founded the Los Angeles-based Hart Pulse Dance Company nine years ago, got her start in the Visalia area. Now the 2001 Lindsay High School graduate is taking her company on a road trip back to where it all started for a performance Saturday, May 23, at the Visalia Fox Theatre.
Hart, who graduated from California Institute of the Arts, is one of those hyper-energized individuals who seems to fit two whole work days into one: She teaches dance at a private studio, works at an Audi dealership (her other love besides dance is cars) and runs her nonprofit company, which recently scored some ink in the New York Times and LA Weekly. We caught up with her for an email interview.
Q: When did you first start taking dance lessons?
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A: I started dancing at Susan’s Studio of Dance (now Sierra Performing Arts Center) at age 9 because I was terrible at basketball and my mom thought ballet would be a great alternative. I cried my entire first class because all the other girls knew so much more than me. But I also instantly loved it.
Q: Did you dream of being a ballerina?
A: I did when I was younger. As I grew into my body and experienced more dance styles and options in college, I knew Contemporary/Modern was the best fit for my ballet technique yet not-so-ballet body.
Q: Who was the biggest influence in your dance education?
A: Susan Pallas really pushed me to exceed expectations and never give up. Melinda Cordell danced with American Ballet Theatre (my favorite company) and had such a sweet fire, mixed with an insane amount of encouragement, visible passion for dance and love for me. I will never forget her. My mother never put up a fight against the demands of my dance schedule, my dreams to dance or any ideas of grandeur that I had. If I wanted to do it, I could if I worked hard. My mom is the strongest woman I’ve ever met and looking back on how she raised me with dance, I’m so grateful.
Q: You danced for a season with the now defunct Fresno Ballet. How did that experience impact you?
A: It was my first professional company experience and was amazing. Taking from different teachers and working with professional dancers at a young age was a great shift for my brain before I took off to college.
Q: You told me you thank God every time you make your student loan payment. Why?
A: When I started California Institute of the Arts, I was immersed into so much dance: modern for the first time, composition classes for choreography, technical processes, theater production, design, etc. It was a lot and it opened up a whole new world of dance for me. Because of Cal Arts, I discovered a hidden talent for choreographing and I learned my organizational skills were insanely useful. I also learned contemporary movement was my calling. So every time I make my student loan payment, I’m reminded of the four years of my life that set the stage for what I would do professionally with my passion for dance.
Q: Some would say it’s pretty gutsy for someone to start her own dance company, especially in Los Angeles. Do you consider yourself a risk-taker?
A: The only reason I would is because I see a lot of people NOT pursuing their passions. Being an adult is hard and we have responsibilities that make taking risks seem impossible. So I guess since I took my passion for an art form and made it my career, that is taking a risk. I know I’m lucky. But I also feel like I’m just trucking along trying to do what I do and make things happen, like everyone else. Luckily in L.A., there are more risk-takers to bump into, so I feel pretty normal in that sense.
Q: Nine years later, your company is still going strong. What has been the biggest challenge over the years?
A: Funding. Always funding. The arts, in all forms, need more individual and government support. A little goes a long way. Artists know how to stretch a dollar. So if you find art that you love, donate. Often. It makes a world of difference.
Q: Tell us a little about your dance “Spoons,” which your company will perform in Visalia.
A: “Spoons” is a dance that I created in 2012 and has become a fan and company favorite. It embodies everything I like to do with my work; positive messages, difficult movement showing off my dancers’ technique, beautiful partnering, a look into romantic relationships, hugs. How people fit together ... like spoons! We end most of our shows with it because it leaves everyone feeling warm and fuzzy. And that’s a good feeling!
Q: Will there be special people in the audience in Visalia?
A: So many! My mom hasn’t been able to make it to one of my L.A. shows in a couple of years, and my dad has never seen my work. Susan Pallas will be bringing two dances and I’m excited to have my hometown studio involved. There will be so many Lindsay High School and studio dance friends and family there. I truly can’t wait.
Hart Pulse Dance Company
- 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 23
- Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St., Visalia
- Tickets: $19-$25