Philippa Kaye '02
Choreographer and dancer
Artistic director, Philippa Kaye Company
Foundations/Motivations: Worked as professional dancer, began choreographing
Experiences: Explored her distinctive choreographic voice
Results: Wrote about, produced, and performed dance works
Since the age of six, Philippa’s life has been filled with dance. There was only one brief stretch in college when she stopped dancing so she could study art. It didn’t last long. She just couldn’t live without dance. After college, she danced professionally with independent choreographers in San Francisco and New York City. She began choreographing dances through The Field, a community of independent artists, and decided she wanted to deepen her craft. She considered large university programs far from New York City. But with faculty members who actively perform, the promise of personal attention, and its proximity to the city, Sarah Lawrence won out.
B.A., Studio Art, University of California-Santa Cruz (1992)
Before Sarah Lawrence:
Philippa’s work was presented by the 92nd Street Y and various venues in New York City, Philadelphia, and Concord, Massachusetts. She created site-specific outdoor works for Dances for Wave Hill and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. With five other women, she co-founded Limbic Six Dance Company, which performed from 1996 to 1999.
When Philippa came to Sarah Lawrence, she didn’t want to spend time copying other choreographers’ dance styles. “The teachers constantly challenge you to find your own voice,” she says. “That’s really what I was there for.” Her professors encouraged her to write about dance, to push her creativity, to consider methods outside the history of dance, whether by using a mathematical theory or by incorporating video. And because the professors are actively involved in creating performance outside of Sarah Lawrence, she respected their guidance. With New York City so close by, Sarah Lawrence draws frequent guest artists, Philippa notes. “Even the substitute teachers are good.”
About a week into the Dance program, Philippa began thinking about her master’s thesis. “It’s exciting to know that you’re going to have an audience and that it’s all your own work,” she says. “You’re allowed to investigate a lot of possibilities.” Her thesis evolved into a group piece whose title, “Big MonST3r,” evokes a computer password. She describes the piece, which incorporates live-feed video, as “a humorous response to the technological boom, its over-stimulating streams of information and subsequent paranoia.”
With the experience she gained at Sarah Lawrence, Philippa spent two years writing dance previews for The New Yorker. At the same time, she continued to make dances and perform through her Philippa Kaye Company. In early 2004, she self-produced two works she had done for her thesis, along with a new multimedia work, at Williamsburg Arts neXus (WAX). Most of the production’s dancers were from Sarah Lawrence, and the audience included three Sarah Lawrence faculty members. “Sarah Lawrence was part of my progression as an artist,” Philippa says. “It didn’t exactly change the way I view things—it enhanced it.”
M.F.A., Dance, Sarah Lawrence College (2002)