Breeanne Saxton isn't afraid of taking risks. Last spring she left her comfortable contract with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company to pursue a freelance career performing and choreographing in Berlin. The bold decision has turned out to be an auspicious one: Within just a few months of moving, she had a piece accepted into the popular Artlake Festival in Lichterfeld, Germany. No matter where she's living, Saxton's clean, intentional movement and avant-garde choreography are turning heads.
Saxton with Brian Gerke in Nichele Van Portfleet's Stranger Kin
Dat Nguyen, Courtesy Saxton.
Hometown: Salt Lake City
Training: Rowland Hall independent school, Bountiful School of Ballet, University of Utah (BFA in modern dance)
Early dance education: Saxton spent most of her childhood as a gymnast before she transitioned into competitive cheerleading and theater at age 11. It wasn't until middle school that she was introduced to dance, but her late start didn't hold her back. "Gymnastics was huge for my development," she says.
Her path to Ririe-Woodbury: Shortly after Saxton graduated college, Daniel Charon, Ririe-Woodbury's artistic director, who'd worked with her as a student, asked her to fill in for an injured dancer. Thus began a sporadic guest artist relationship before Saxton joined full-time in 2018. Aside from performing works by Ann Carlson, Joanna Kotze, Doug Varone, Raja Feather Kelly and Charon, she also danced Alwin Nikolais' pioneering choreography. "His work is so profoundly interdisciplinary," says Saxton, "and I often think back to Nikolais as I make my own work."
On moving to Berlin: Having an affinity for the progressive, theatrical performance trends found in Western European dance, Saxton was drawn to Germany. "There's a lot of risk associated with choosing to leave a company and work for myself, but I am cultivating a body of work that I believe in," she says.
Saxton's ACKNO wledge & accept
Danny Brown, Courtesy Saxton
Breakout moment: In August, Saxton's ACKNO wledge & accept, a piece that uses live animation and puppetry to depict mass hypnosis, was presented at Germany's interdisciplinary Artlake Festival. "Every time someone says yes or validates your hard work, it's a new breakout moment," she says. "I'm really investing in the true, intense, gritty passion that I have inside of me."
Dream collaborations: Saxton would love to work with choreographers Wim Vandekeybus and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, as well as the Brussels-based dance-theater troupe Peeping Tom. She also hopes to eventually start her own company.
What her former boss is saying: "Breeanne approaches work from a singular point of view," Charon says. "Hiring her was a no-brainer, and I was sad to lose her. I think she will make a real impact on the world with her choreography."