Daniel Costa is the artistic director of Daniel Costa Dance. Costa moved from New Jersey to Seattle in 2015 and has presented work through platforms such as 12 Minutes Max, Full Tilt, Next Fest NW, Men in Dance, and BOOST Dance Festival. His core company took shape after receiving the James Ray Residency, which culminated in a performance at Seattle International Dance Festival in June of 2018. Costa’s work reflects a contemporary style that frequently utilizes floorwork, as well as improvisation in both the creation process and performance of the work.
“We need new pathways,” states Costa, referring to his hope for growth of Daniel Costa Dance through a few new programs in the upcoming season. Costa is a 2017 DanceCrush recipient for performance and community presence. It is fitting that his new endeavors focus on improving opportunities for the local dancers in his company through artistic inspiration that expands beyond his own choreography. Costa explains:
“The next thing is working on bringing repertory to Daniel Costa Dance. We’ll have a [yet-to-be-announced] artist from New York City choreographing on us that I’ve been really influenced by and some of the dancers, Liv Fauver and Hilary Grumman, have also been influenced by. The idea is to have other artists setting work on us too, so dancers from Daniel Costa Dance who want to choreograph are going to be given an opportunity to choreograph.”
Costa hopes to create a situation where outside artists influence the company’s creative, compositional, and technical practices. “I love supporting the local artists, but I also want to shake up the pathways in our bodies. I’m feeling kind of stuck in mine.”
Costa admires the Whim W’him company model, and hopes to emulate some of it in his own company. “I love that artistic director choreographs usually one piece in a program and there are two other pieces typically choreographed by guests, both locally and outside of Seattle. I think it’s just important because these are folks with different perspectives and then also very different aesthetics and movement languages. We can get really stuck in our bubble and it’s not invigorating. I think it really does something to my brain when I’m learning new work. I was way more successful choreographing when I was dancing for Alex Ketley for Men in Dance. Right now while I’m not dancing for anyone.”
Costa similarly hopes to expand the leadership structure within his company, inviting new perspectives on the administrative side as well as the creative side. “Leading alone is very challenging. I think it can get really lonely. You have the company, you have audiences, so everyone perceives that you are together and connected. But actually, what I’ve learned this past year is I need other people leading with me. Not just help from collaborators, I need people to be with me, one or two other people. We’re looking for a managing director, which would be more of an administrative role so that I can focus as an artistic director. I would love to have a three-person counsel including myself, a counsel for dance. Who do we bring here? Where do we show work? What do we prioritize?”
Costa has spent the last two years choreographing in the festival circuit of Seattle, but the next step for Daniel Costa Dance is self-producing. Costa sees this as a potentially difficult, but important task in terms of producing work that stays in line with the mission of Daniel Costa Dance. “I think that it can be challenging, with the festival format, to invite audiences to see your work when it’s a gamble what else can be in the festival. That can influence the audience member as you’re trying to build a support system and a donor system.” Costa desires to have more control over the work that his choreography is shown alongside. “There have been instances where I find other works culturally inappropriate, and then I’m left a little sad and confused why I’m still doing the festival thing. That’s why I’m moving away from it. I think that in the end, it’s actually going to bring me more support. It’s just going to cost a lot more at first.”
Costa is looking towards company growth also in the form of new dancers. “I see bringing in other folks that are very different, even in possibly technique and aesthetic, who can rehearse with me maybe on other projects.” Having more dancers means he can have more flexibility working with who happens to be available. It could also bring in more diversity to the company in both movement and gender. “There are no male-identified dancers in the company right now, so I would want to bring in some, if there are dancers that work for me and for the group.” Whether or not dancers work for the group is his utmost priority, regardless of gender or identity. He plans to hold an audition for new dancers in early January.
We can look forward to Daniel Costa Dance’s continued evolution as these additions in leadership, company artists, and repertory are implemented throughout the upcoming season. Learn more at danielcostadance.com.