This article originally published in the May/June 2015 edition of The Encounter.
No artistic director. No rehearsal director. No rules.
The women of Tbd never meant to upend tradition. But when the renegade collective of modern dancers got together last March, they accidentally dismantled a time-honored power structure that had, up to that point, mostly dictated their every flat back, tendu, and chasse.
If you ask them, they just wanted to keep moving.
“Everyone here wants to dance so damn bad that they’ll do just about anything,” says Kat Fackler, 25, one of Tbd’s many co-founders. “No one can stop dancing. No one can not do it.”
What’s more—and perhaps as a byproduct of their do-it-yourself attitudes and passion for modern dance—the collective has waged an almost guerrilla-style exhibition on the Omaha arts community, taking their dreamlike choreographies out of the world of dance and onto the oft-cramped cement floors of music venues and art galleries.
“We’d like to see modern dance have a much stronger presence here in Omaha,” Fackler says, reflecting on Tbd’s past performances with area bands and artists. “Rather than be a surprise that modern dance is going to be included on a bill, we’d like to see it as the main attraction.”
Tbd, or “To be determined”—a once-placeholder that barely saved the troupe from having to share their name with a meat salad (their insignia remains a small dish of salmagundi)—Fackler says, was the obvious step after their former leader, Maya Taylor, left for the more humid pastures of New Orleans. She says the comfort level between the 10 group participants was such that each dancer’s movements and artistic vision could be trusted in a more democratic creative process.
Jim Williams, 59, the former Midwest Correspondent of 25 years for Dance Magazine and a hobbyist dance photographer, has been documenting Tbd since its inception. Williams says he’s been involved in modern dance for a long time and senses something special about the eclectic troupe, which ranges in age from 20-somethings to 40-somethings.
“These are all people who are very trained and their technique is very good—so they’re actually worth looking at,” says Williams. “I admire them because they’re committed to doing the art form rather than just going for what you might call the lifestyle benefits of being able to say you’re an artist.”
For now, Tbd is concentrating on what they describe as their “main event,” which will take place on May 9 at Motion 41 Dance’s Encore space. The collective won a spot on the show through OMAHAgraphy, an annual national choreographer’s competition.
It’ll be just be one more way for Tbd participants to celebrate that side of themselves that has to keep moving.
“I don’t even know what I would do if I didn’t have this group to go to,” says Kara Gillmore, the self-described “old person” of the collective who has been dancing for over four decades. “It’s like my secret second world.”