“I have this huge dream of buying a warehouse and living in it and having dancers rehearse in it all day long,” said choreographer Meredith Cabaniss as she gazed into her coffee cup for a brief moment before breaking into a youthful grin and continuing: “But right now, we’re just a bunch of people in our twenties who have no money.” It’s early on a Monday morning, and the 25-year-old UCSB graduate — fueled by a series of upcoming creative projects and a very large cup of joe — has plenty to say about the state of Selah Dance Collective, the contemporary dance company she started in 2013, when the ink was still fresh on her diploma.
“The truth is, nobody really teaches you how to run a company, so I’m just doing it trial by fire here,” she said. Though her nine-member company is barely three years in, Cabaniss is already carving out a deliberate and highly ambitious plan to start gaining reputable traction as a company, “creating dance that actually means something.”
How she might stand out among a sea of emerging choreographers is a question she ponders with the intensity of an artist who views success as a continuous series of battles to be overcome, the through line to her work that began with the 2015 debut of Wages and continues with her latest work, Endgame, premiering this weekend at Center Stage Theater. “It’s something I’ve had in my life as a recurring theme,” she admitted.
With Endgame, and inspired by the artists and concepts that emerged during the historical 1913 Armory Show in New York City, Cabaniss sets out to explore the idea of reality versus illusion and how they might be expressed through physicality and movement. The results will be unveiled over a 25-minute piece filled with edgy athleticism that still feels “accessible and relatable to people,” she said. To round out the program, Cabaniss has invited four choreographers — a selection of former colleagues spread across both coasts — to debut work as part of a collective exchange among artists, a model that has served her well over the past three years. “Dance is way more about connections than I ever thought,” she said with an earnest smile.
Endgame takes place Friday-Saturday, March 31-April 1, 8 p.m., at Center Stage Theater (751 Paseo Nuevo). Call 963-0408 or see centerstagetheater.org.