Everyone who has danced with Annex over the past ten years has been instrumental in the company’s transition to a new city and sustaining Annex Dance Company as an integral member of Charleston’s arts community. During the month of May we will be featuring interviews with some of our past and present company members in honor of our Ten Years in Charleston!
In Annex Dance Company’s first season (2007-08), Francesca Marinaro was invited into the company as an apprentice. She became a full company member after her graduation from DeSales University, and performed with Annex for the remaining two seasons in Pennsylvania. She and founding company member Courtney Kay were instrumental in the transition of Annex to a Charleston-based company. We asked Francesca to reflect on her time with Annex and share how her experiences led her to where she is today.
What was your favorite part of dancing and creating with Annex?
My favorite part of working with Annex was Kristin’s constant creativity. Every show was different and we were always working on new ideas and collaborations. She was always inspiring with how she could take an idea and make it come to fruition. It was wonderful as a dancer to have that constant motivation and watch beautiful work unfold while collaborating with so many talented people.
What is an experience/memory with Annex that you feel has shaped you as an artist?
One of the experiences with Annex I will never forget is when we would travel to perform. I remember our show at Steps in NYC, our performance at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival (a few years before the company moved to Charleston) and our many teaching moments ! It was always incredible to be in a new place and share our work without doubts or fear. It absolutely shaped me into an artist who loves traveling and working with new communities and sharing work. I always loved different cultures and I cannot thank Annex enough for giving me such incredible opportunities to see new places while growing as a dancer.
Which piece do you find that you cherish and look back on often? And why?
I think it’s very hard to pick just one piece … but it may have to be the piece entitled, Swirl. I remember the movement being so beautiful and incredibly freeing as a dancer. Challenging us technically but also emotionally. I can still remember wearing these gorgeous green dresses and the way the fabric moved around us. It was a “swirl” of beautiful movement and emotions. This was also the last piece my grandmother was able to see before she passed and I will never forget the smile it brought to her face. Swirl is always the piece I come back to when I need to remember why I still dance and create.
How do you feel Annex shaped your career?
Annex was the company that truly gave me the belief in myself as an artist. Kristin has this ability to challenge me and push me to keep growing while instilling confidence and value in oneself. I felt that my presence in the company was important and that confidence continued into creating my own work. Kristin always taught me hard work, perseverance and to never have doubts or fears. The belief in your work and the value in your mission has always fueled me to keep creating and sharing my voice. I am forever grateful for all of the memories and the incredible foundation the company gave me as a young artist. There are just not enough words to express my gratitude other than to say that Annex is always in my heart and am so honored to have been a part of its journey.
What was it like to help transition the company to Charleston?
When the company relocated to Charleston, I was privileged to come and work with the dancers who Kristin had met and invited to perform with Annex. It was both exciting and bittersweet to teach my role in pieces and work with Kristin as she shifted to a company of new dancers. Annex is a family and I was excited that the family would be growing and to think of the endless possibilities ahead!
What are you doing now?
Reflecting on my time with Annex always gives me so much gratitude for how I became the artist I am today. I am the Co-Artistic Director of a contemporary dance company based out of NYC entitled, Drye/Marinaro Dance. The mission for our company is to move with passion and purpose and we have been creating for over nine years performing throughout the east coast. The company is affiliated with our performing arts center, Fusia Center of the Arts, in which we offer both recreational and professional training programs for dancers, actors, and musicians. It has been an incredible journey so far and I am so grateful that Annex continues to support me as I will always remain connected to Kristin and the company!