I’m Britta Joy Peterson, and I am a Dance Artist. I grew up in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, in a home where I climbed trees, built forts and tap danced on my grandmother’s driveway. Minnesota was, and is, my creative foundation. As a teen I spent hours in the studio dancing, on stage performing, and in rehearsal rooms singing and playing my violin.
My undergraduate experience at Gustavus Adolphus College in southern MN formed my multidimensional approach to dance making. I was introduced to new cognitive and creative processes through classwork, performing, choreographing and directing.
I was fortunate to spend time in New Zealand, where I fell in love with dance improvisation and studied Pacific Arts. I remember one of my mentors, Michele Rusinko, saying to me before I left for my six month trip to NZ, “In order to make output, we need to take time for input.” While in NZ I found a new sense of time, slowed down, and took in the inherent research that comes from living on a new continent.
Returning to the states, and also Minnesota, I spent two years delving into exercise therapy and rehabilitation, following my own spinal injury. These two years also were fertile in my theatrical choreography development. Now, I have I worked with hundreds of people in 30+ shows, master classes and workshops. My work as a choreographer and director ranges from classics such as West Side Story, to originally developed concepts seen in A Grand Night for Singing.
I spent three years in the southwest completing my MFA in Dance from Arizona State University. This experience solidified my artistic voice, allowing for a ‘creative pressure cooker’ of sorts. I concentrated on artistry and pedagogy, which are inherently interwoven in my practice as a Dance Artist. This label fits my blended approached to the creative process of making dances, and the creative process of teaching dance. During my studies I also honed in on my core values of people and movement–these two driving forces are what continuously bring me back to dance making and teaching. Sharing experiences while in class, in rehearsal, or in performance allows us to engage with each other, and we leave with newness–maybe a little, maybe a lot.
My nomadic lifestyle then lead me to Seattle. I was lured to the bustling epicenter of pacific northwest art by Velocity Dance Center, where I worked as a Teaching Artist and the Office + Operations Manager of the organization. I was constantly surrounded by incredible artists and organizers who continue to push the boundaries of dance. My time with Velocity was punctuated by passionate performances with established and emerging artists, lush residencies in the mountains, ravenous hunger of professional students in my classes, and artist driven administrators who educate while they innovate.
Currently, I am based in the wild west of Wyoming. I am full time faculty and the Director of Dance-running the Dance Program within the Performing Arts Department at Western Wyoming Community College. I work with students in Modern, Jazz, Ballet, Dance Composition, Pedagogy, History and Somakinesis courses, serve as the Artistic Director and choreographer for the college’s dance company – Desert Dance Theatre, and serve as the Resident Choreographer for both the Dance and Musical Theatre programs. Check out Western here, on page three. I am also honing a new academic platform for dance performance, called the Propelling Professional Performance Project with collaborators from across the country. I’m beginning to sense that home is where my body is, and that I’m always working through a sense of home-coming, where I find myself. I am always looking for collaborators, for input for new work, and outlets for past work.