Artist Spotlight No. 8: Ashley Menestrina
Know first about Ashley Menestrina, a dancer + choreographer and No.8 of 13 presented artists during Volume V, Issue I. Ashley is happy to be part of a community that accepts deviation, originality, and commitment. Read more about Ashley on our Artist Spotlight.
Three words that describe your choreography:
Expansive, Multi-dimensional, Available
Ashley Menestrina is inspired by the physical limits of the human body, deconstruction of classical shapes, and raw human emotion. Ashley is a graduate of Point Park University, and is currently performs with BARE Dance Company and Amaris Dance.
About Ashley's Creative Process
I always find myself in a constant state of development; most always, I find a movement vocabulary from improvisation and then choreograph key sections independently from one another. I incorporate transitions once I have set music to the movement and culminate details that enhance the intent of the work. I believe in the indescribable ability that movement has to bring about feeling. It is refreshing to be part of an outlet that accepts deviation, originality, and commitment.
Do you work in other mediums other than dance? Any other special talents?
I used to study black and white photography in college. Abstract photography used to be a keen interest of mine, and I hope to rekindle that discipline in the near future.
What artists are you influenced by? Why so?
I am inspired by many artists. The choreography of Andrea Miller, of Gallim Dance, is authentic and raw; every time I witness her choreography I feel inspired. Her use of improvisation to develop material makes for refreshing, original movement. I am also influenced by Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz, of MADboots Dance, both as dancers and choreographers. They display such commitment to their goal of promoting gay issues through a showcase of intricate gestural work and physicality. The movement vocabulary of Gaga, a technique developed by Ohad Naharin, artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company, is also another influence. Ohad Naharin, as an artist, is skilled in displaying motif, rhythm, repetition, and most of all, contorted virtuosity. His perception on how the body is able to move allows his dancers to seem almost inhuman. I appreciate the use of every inch of the body through use of visualization, whether it is "floating in the air" or "struggling to move through mud."
What is your most memorable moment as an artist, thus far?
My most memorable moment as an artist thus far was my performance of “Always a Creature” at WAXworks. It was the first moment I put my choreography on stage; that moment later acknowledged that I should cultivate my artistry to the fullest extent. I have a voice as an artist, and it's exciting that I can now recognize it from this moment.
We’re all physical beings! What’s your favorite part of the body and why?
My favorite part of the body is the spine. The connectivity, fluidity, and strength that is present in the vertebrae provides such a wide range of movement. Articulating the spine leads to a conversation between the upper and lower body. To fully invest in the physical capabilities of the body, one must utilize the spine in a way that almost always evokes an emotional response.
Say what you want to say! Have a quote you live by?
I live by a quote by Albert Einstein that reads, ”I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious”: I firmly believe that exploration through a burning curious desire is what brings our talents to the surface. It is not okay to rest comfortably on the skills that come easily to you. Instead, it becomes necessary to approach each and every situation with an open mind, an open heart, and the self-confidence to learn from mistakes.