Five questions with: Hannah Weeks, Nimbus Dance Works dancer from Iowa City

Iowa Dance Festival: Contemporary Ballet with Nimbus Dance Works

Coralville Center for the Performing Arts — Saturday, May 12 at 10:30 a.m.

Iowa Dance Festival Dance Concert (with pre-show conversation with members of Nimbus Dance Works)

Coralville Center for the Performing Arts — Saturday, May 12 at 6:15 p.m.

InterDance is celebrating the 12th year of the Iowa Dance Festival with a day of master classes leading up to a closing concert featuring Nimbus Dance Works from Jersey City, New Jersey, and including work by local choreographers. The day high-kicks off at 10:30 a.m. with a class in circus hooping with Lindsay Moon, founder of the Eastern Iowa Circus Collective. Nimbus Dance Works presents a contemporary ballet master class at 1 p.m. At 3 p.m., Ashley Bassett, a dance graduate student at the University of Iowa, will offer an all-ages hip-hop class.

Hannah Weeks, a former student at the University of Iowa, Nolte Academy of Dance and City Ballet of Iowa, comes home to Iowa City with Nimbus Dance Works. She’s in her third season dancing with the company, which was founded in 2005. Other dancers traveling with Nimbus to the festival include founder Samuel Pott, Justin Perez (Orlando, Florida), Victoria Santaguida (Toronto, Canada) and Devon Louis (Washington, DC). Prior to the 7 p.m. closing concert, company members will participate in a pre-show conversation at 6:15 p.m.

Tickets for each of the three classes are $17. The concert is $7 for children 12 and under, $12 for students and seniors and $17 for adults. A $27 festival pass offers access to all events.

Weeks has been with the Nimbus Dance Works company for three seasons and serves as a dancer and the assistant director of programming. In addition to the UI, Nolte and City Ballet, she also studied at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Alonzo King Lines Ballet Training Program. She answered five questions for us about dance and home.

Tell me a bit about the company you’re with. Why did you chose it? How does it dovetail with your own artistic ideals?

I dance for Nimbus Dance Works which is a contemporary dance company based in Jersey City, New Jersey. I don’t know if I chose it as much as it chose me. I attended the audition on a whim while I was visiting my brother who was already living in New York at the time. I wasn’t intending to move to the east coast but Nimbus’ artistic director, Samuel Pott offered me a contract, so I stayed! I really enjoy the repertory at Nimbus. We do a lot of work by Sam and get to work with guest choreographers to create new dances. We also do some important historical dances like Charles Weidman’s Lynchtown. One of the things that is really great and unique about Nimbus is how important community impact is. We do a lot of work in Jersey City and surrounding areas providing dance and dance performance to underserved populations. In addition, many pieces in our repertory have audience or community engagement components. It has been so enriching to go into a community for a performance and have a multi-dimensional, bilateral relationship with the audience. We get to learn about who they are and that often makes the performance much more special!

How often do you get back to Iowa, not for work? How does it feel to be returning for this event?

I try to come back to Iowa as often as possible to visit my parents — it usually ends up being about twice a year. I have an odd but good mix of feelings about returning home for the Iowa Dance Festival. I remember participating in the Iowa Dance Festival for the first time when I was 12 or 13 and being so excited and inspired by the artists who were teaching and performing — I think that year there was a company from Spain and a company from Chicago. The Festival opened my eyes to how many different possibilities there are in dance. I am very grateful to Sarah and Eloy Barragan and Nora Garda for continuing the celebration of dance and for providing Nimbus the opportunity to perform in Iowa. Perhaps there will be young dancers in the audience who will be inspired like I was.

Hannah Weeks performs for Nimbus Dance Works. — photo courtesy of Nimbus

What do you miss most about Iowa City? What do you love most about your new home?

The way the air smells, and Summer of the Arts! I actually find many similarities between Jersey City and Iowa City — of course there is a bit more intrigue in the politics of New Jersey!

What was the most important/useful thing you learned from your dance teachers here in Iowa?

So many things! Probably the most important is staying focused on your goals but also remembering to find joy in hard work.

What’s one thing you wish people in New Jersey understood about Iowa, dance in Iowa, or Iowans?

There are a lot of really cool things that happen in Iowa — the general assumption is that it’s a cultural dead zone but it’s not!

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