August Artist of the Month - Chloe Carlson of GUSTO Dance
By: Nathan Brauer
Photos courtesy of Daniel Eugene Photography
Chloe Carlson, a contemporary modern dancer, and instructor, loves to perform and share her passion with her audience. As for how Chloe discovered dance, she had started taking her first steps as a dancer at the young age of 3. She studied with the late, great Truda Kaschmann at the Wadsworth Athenaeum. Describing the early experience, she vividly remembers the feeling it sparked in her, “I still have the sensory memory of excitement bubbling up inside me as I waited to take class”.
A few years later, Chloe started taking ballet classes at the late, lovely Ann Pimm’s dance studio and continued throughout high school, saying that “I loved them!”. She was then introduced to modern dance in her first hear at Mount Holyoke College. Interestingly, Chloe explains that, “I detested modern dance initially—all of that off-kilter movement was so unfamiliar! Soon, though, modern dance cast its spell with its use of momentum, release, and asymmetry and I have been smitten ever since.”
What’s more, is that she originally had gone to college for law school. It was only until later that she says, “I dove headlong into dance when I was 40. I would never have been able to follow my dance passion without the relentless support of my husband and children, along with the years of support of gifted dance artist David Dorfman and the Connecticut College Dance Department.”
Q: “What do the arts mean to you?”
“Joy. Inspiration. Creativity. Possibility. Empowerment. Beauty. Connection. Wellness. Transcendence. These are some of the gifts with which the arts, especially dancing, have enriched my life, deepening it, giving it meaning. My lifelong dance practice has also helped me cultivate resilience. Dance is my passion and my prayer. It is an anchor, a buoy, and a jet pack.
I especially love to perform! I am increasingly drawn to presenting interactive work, plumbing more fully the audience’s and my shared experience of a performance.”
Q: “How do you think the arts can help others?”
“The arts offer all of the gifts I mentioned above. The arts offer us a bridge that invites us both to cultivate our inner world by sparking and feeding our imagination and to connect to the outer world. Inviting us to experience life on a more ineffable plane, the arts enrich and deepen our existence. They can transform us. Creating art helps us develop resilience.”
Q: “What advice do you have for aspiring artists or dancers?”
1) Be resilient and just keep going! When you come up against disappointments or obstacles, ask yourself what’s still possible for you and your art?
2) Let yourself be seen. I.e. make your creation your own. Ultimately, for me, it’s essential to see a dancer’s uniqueness shine through the movement. That’s the art part. As modern dance pioneer Martha Graham said, “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion."
3) Notice what inspires you in others’ work and use that as a springboard to develop your own work and voice.
Q: “How has the pandemic affected you as an artist?”
“The pandemic has affected me profoundly as an artist—positively and negatively. It has required me to be more adaptable in order to keep dancing. I learned to teach classes virtually and synchronously. When lockdown kept us out of studios, I reached out to the Old Saybrook Parks and Rec Department and offered classes on the Town Green. I also gave myself many classes alone on the Green. I loved that the dancing on the Green was actually an informal public art offering, with many passersby pausing to watch. This heightened visibility also made it possible for me to connect with more dancers.
In addition, I developed offerings in dance improvisation and performed on the sand bar at Harvey’s Beach as part of National Water Dance’s simultaneous, nationwide virtual performance.
Unfortunately, dancing on non-dance surfaces has taken a real toll on my body. Being unable to take and teach class in person was a big loss. It has made me appreciate even more fully the gift of dancing together.”
Chloe has always loved being a nomadic “dance ambassador”, supporting other dancers across multiple communities by taking their classes over the years. As for her current practices, Chloe is working on her upcoming fall classes: Adult Contemporary Modern (Int/Adv, registration through Chloe) at Dance Center of Old Lyme and Keep Moving: A Joyful movement Class (Open Level, registration required— oldsaybrookrec.com). She’s also exploring the option of offering beginner adult Modern Dance workshops. To everyone interested, inquiries can be made to email@example.com, and more information can be found on GUSTO Dance’s Facebook page.
Her cheerful final statements of what she’d like to share are sweet! “I love to laugh and make people laugh. I love to collaborate. And I am a mermaid.”