Tecumseh High School grad makes her way into Seattle art scene
Kate Wallich knew by her sophomore year at Tecumseh High School that she wanted dance to be the center of her life. With the support of her parents, she transferred to Interlochen Arts Academy for her final two years of high school to help make her dream happen.
Seattle was the collegiate destination for Wallich, and the dance focus was very different from her dance experience in Tecumseh and at Interlochen. “After Interlochen, I got a full-ride scholarship to Cornish College of the Arts,” Wallich said. “The art world here in Seattle is very experimental. When I first moved here it was difficult for me. It was hard to make that shift. As I was making the shift I realized it was more interesting to me.”
After college, Wallich began working with local choreographers as a dancer and also creating her own work. Choreography has been a joy for Wallich, despite the long hours and financial challenges.
“Making work was the first thing that made me really happy,” said Wallich. “Over the past four years, the amount of work has skyrocketed. There’s something that excites me about making work.”
In February, Wallich presented her first full-length original production, “Super Eagle,” to the Seattle art scene. Working with her company, Kate Wallich + The YC, “Super Eagle” was performed at the Velocity Dance Center and commissioned as part of Velocity’s Made in Seattle series.
“This evening was an hour-long show with no intermission,” Wallich said. The work explored love from the state of bliss through tragedy.
Wallich worked closely with Lavinia Vago to create the work. “She’s a freelance dancer and she co-directs the work with me,” said Wallich.
Pop culture is an area Wallich likes to draw from in her work, especially the decadence and extravagance found in the world of pop culture. Her work doesn’t just focus on specific physicality, but explores the structure or the potential found in movement.
She said her boyfriend Jacob Rosen’s career as a cinematographer has influenced how she approached dance pieces. “There’s something that can be really cinematic about dance,” Wallich said. “I like to toy with audience.”
Seattle audiences have definitely responded to Wallich’s creative expression and execution. Local press sings the praises of Wallich and The YC for their creativity and innovation in dance.
Although Wallich is gaining respect for her work in a metropolitan area that likes to nurture artists, she still has to find a way to pay for her work. “I apply for a lot of grants,” said Wallich. “Budgets for dance can be up to $50,000 or $70,000. Most of my income comes from teaching. It’s definitely a project-based lifestyle.”
She has received assistance from groups presenting her work, like the commission from Velocity for “Super Eagle.”
“I feel like that’s part of the reason I really like Seattle,” Wallich said. “There are people that want to support the arts here. This city is a wonderful place to make work in. I do feel very committed to this city. There’s just momentum here right now and I feel a part of that.”
As much as she likes Seattle, Wallich is willing to travel to different places when funding requires temporary relocation. “The goal is that my work can take me to these places I want to go,” said Wallich.
One place that intrigues Wallich and her boyfriend is Detroit. They both like the direction the city is taking with the arts.
“I would love to be a part of the potential of Detroit,” Wallich said.
Being close to her family would be a definite plus for Wallich as well. “I hate being so far away from my family,” she said. “I try to come back once or twice a year. My family is my rock for me.”
From the start, Wallich had support from her parents, Pat and Kim, with her career in the arts.
“I’ve been dancing since I was three. I started dancing at Dance Steps Studios,” she said. “My parents have been overtly supportive of me and I really thank them for that. They are a huge inspiration for my work.”
Wallich also has great memories of life growing up in Tecumseh. As much as she likes living in the bustling world of Seattle, part of her craves a different way to create.
“I have dreams of not being in the city,” said Wallich. “It’s great to be in a place that is quiet. I like nature. I like being alone in a lot of ways.”
That dream will have to wait as Wallich is already busy on her next work. A new visual artist will be working on innovative set designs and there will also be a new composer as Wallich’s previous composer is now touring as a musician.
“I’m about to begin my next work in June,” she said. “I’m taking new steps with the new piece. It’s going to be great to have a new group to work with.”
To all the young artists in Tecumseh, Wallich encourages tenacity as a way to succeed. She knows how finances can create roadblocks, but believes determination and focus can help any artist get what they need to create.
“There’s money out there to support your dreams,” Wallich said. “There’s a way to do it.”