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The Graduate School

G-1 Communications Building
Box 353770
Seattle, Washington 98195-3770

Phone: 206.543.5900
Fax: 206.685.3234

Catherine Cabeen, MFA, 2009

Catherine Cabeen

Master of Fine Arts, 2009

Founder of her own Seattle-based contemporary dance company, Catherine Cabeen and Company.

Education

  • Master of Fine Arts Degree in Dance, University of Washington, 2009
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, 2007

Career path

  • Member of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, New York City
  • Member of Martha Graham Dance Company, New York City
  • Founder and artistic director, Catherine Cabeen and Company, Seattle
  • Freelance choreographer, dance instructor

Recent project

“Into the Void,” a show at On the Boards, a Pacific Northwest performing arts center. This interdisciplinary performance combined dance, music, sculpture, and other creative arts.

Catherine’s dance company helps to boost the area’s creative economy by providing work for artists. Although she typically hires at least one to two dancers for her projects, she brought on 11 collaborators from various disciplines—including five UW students or alumni—for “Into the Void.

Read about the show on the Seattle Times website:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/thearts/2014873872_cabeen26.html
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/thearts/2014871179_cabeenqanda26.html

Time of Healing

Catherine focused her studies on 20th century history and feminist theory during her time as an MFA student. Her interest in feminist theory had deepened during her experiences with the pioneering Martha Graham Dance Company and then in eight years as a dancer with the prestigious Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Taking on “ testosterone-driven” solo performances for Bill T. Jones, on the one hand, and iconic feminine roles for Graham, in which she often wore long dresses and false eyelashes, on the other, exposed her to the complexity of gender representation in relation to personal empowerment.

“It was great to spend the time I needed to physically heal in the library, fortifying my mind as my body rested,” she said.

While at Cornish, Catherine taught master classes at the UW dance department, prompting an invitation to join the school’s graduate program—an offer she was glad to accept.

Exploring Gender through Dance

Catherine focused her studies on 20th century history and feminist theory during her time as an MFA student. Her interest in feminist theory had deepened during her experiences with the pioneering Martha Graham Dance Company and then in eight years as a dancer with the prestigious Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Taking on “ testosterone-driven” solo performances for Bill T. Jones, on the one hand, and iconic feminine roles for Graham, in which she often wore long dresses and false eyelashes, on the other, exposed her to the complexity of gender representation in relation to personal empowerment.

“I used my graduate education to study self-representation as it unfolded for various artists throughout the 20th century, so that I could better understand how to represent my own unique perspective in my own work,” Catherine said.

UW’s Advantage

UW’s dance program held unique appeal for Catherine because it encouraged students to take courses outside the department and viewed dance as a means of shaping societies and reflecting cultural shifts. She also praised the “incredible” professors she encountered, particularly Rebecca Aanerud in Women’s Studies and Patricia Failing in Art History.

Graduate school also introduced her to many of her current artistic collaborators, and the rigorous pace left her an expert in multitasking—a veritable survival skill for running her own company.

Catherine moved to New York City two years later and received a three-year certificate of dance from the Martha Graham School in 1998. Shortly afterward, she accepted an offer to join the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.

Background

Raised in quaint St. Charles, Ill., Catherine enjoyed attending art museums and performances with her parents and running through their big yard. “I’ve always loved space and the feeling of moving through it,” she said.

She requested dance classes before she was old enough for kindergarten and continued to study ballet until age 15, when she gained her first exposure to modern dance using the Graham technique. “I was hooked instantly,” she said, citing those classes as her inspiration to become a modern dancer.

Greatest Adventure

As a performer, Catherine has traveled all over the world, from South Africa to Brazil, Australia to Portugal, Seattle to New York. But she counts building her own dance company and sharing its work as her greatest adventure yet “because it is driven by my own agency.”

Advice for Prospective Graduate Students

“Get some life experience first. School is much more exciting when your studies connect to life outside the campus."

 

Photo:  Elizabeth Lowry