Why Do Fish Swim? – Martha Connerton, 2018 ASC Creative Renewal Fellowship

Categories: Blog
By Michael J. Solender
This is choreographer Martha Connerton in her studio. Photo by Nancy Pierce.

Martha Connerton has never known a time where dance was not an integral part of her life.

“The full 60 years of my life have been spent in the field of dance,” says Connerton, a dancer, choreographer and educator. “Why? Ask a fish why it swims. I was dancing around the house before I ever took a lesson. First as a young student of ballet from the age of eight, then as a professional ballet dancer and budding choreographer with Pacific Northwest Ballet and Louisville Ballet, next as a working ballet/modern dancer and choreographer in New York into middle-age, and as a maturing artist and director of a dance company.”

Since moving to Charlotte in 1993, Connerton has extended her talents across a wide span of dance, theater, cultural and educational programs touching the community through its children and others who don’t routinely encounter the beauty and power of dance and performance art.

Connerton’s extensive accomplishments include founding and serving as artistic executive director of her eponymous contemporary dance company, Martha Connerton/Kinetic Works. Here, Connerton has created, choreographed and performed more than 30 original works.

She’s served as guest choreographer and been commissioned by the likes of the North Carolina Dance Festival, Charlotte Ballet, the Chattanooga Ballet, the New York Theatre Ballet, the Louisville Ballet and Charlotte Symphony.

She’s engaged thousands of area children and adults through her active learning performances, school residencies and teacher workshops. She’s also instructed at several higher education institutions in the Carolinas, such as UNC Charlotte, Winthrop University, East Carolina University and UNC Greensboro.

Connerton says at this stage of her career she’s transitioning her work towards dance-related activities and projects absent deadlines and firmly established end goals. She’s gratified for the recognition of her achievements and community contributions that accompany her ASC Creative Renewal Fellowship, noting she’s still actively creating and that the fellowship will allow her to focus on new projects she’s excited about.

“I have been writing a series of dance-along children’s books that promote active reading and listening,” says Connerton. “I’m planning to create a video that shows children actively participating in the story to be packaged with the book, giving a guide to using it effectively.”

A new choreographic project also has her attention.

“I’m interested in creating movement theater works that purposefully tell a story about a particular issue,” Connerton says. “A new idea was spawned by news of the assassination of a Sufi spiritual singer in Pakistan two years ago by affiliates of the Islamic State (ISIS).  It has stirred me to research relations between Arabic religious and political groups and their bearing on Western culture and follow this line of research with the goal of creating a theater/dance work.”

Don’t think for a moment Connerton is slowing down with her creative pursuits. She’s simply shifting gears.