You are reading excerpts from Andréa Spearman’s recorded conversation with Alyssa Mitchel
10 in 10 theme music: Bright, upbeat pop music that you may hear in a teen-centered drama series.
[Theme music plays, then fades out slightly to play in the background of the introduction]
Andréa Spearman: Welcome to 10 in 10 with Andréa Spearman where we have short and lively dialogues with our local dance community.
Welcome! Today we are chatting with dancer/choreographer Alyssa Mitchel, who teaches contemporary dance and ballet, and has commissioned work for local companies including Bay Pointe Ballet, LEVYdance, Mark Foehringer Dance Project SF, and more. Her outdoor production, Here. Now. will be premiering at the San Francisco Exploratorium in November 2021. Find out more by visiting her Website: http://alyssaevemitchel.weebly.com.
[Theme music fades back in, then gradually fades out entirely as Andréa begins to speak]
Andréa: Who inspires you?
Alyssa Mitchel: I have two choreographers in mind, Liz Roman and Janice Garrett. Both of them have been amazing mentors to me. They’ve inspired my choreography.
Also my math teacher, Liz Caffrey [Andréa: Oh wow] she helped me with my learning differences. She was my 8th grade math teacher and continued to tutor me in high school.
Andréa: That’s awesome! Never would have thought of a math teacher. Okay, what’s your secret spot in town?
Alyssa: Okay well my SPOT in town right now for the past year during the pandemic and even now is the Exploratorium in the Embarcadero. I’m gearing up for my outdoor shows…I have a partnership with the Exploratorium, the show is gonna have 10 dancers. I’ve been there rehearsing outdoors and it’s open now too.
Andréa: Yaay! Nice plug! So then that goes into the question, what’s your favorite Bay Area institution? Is that the same answer? (leans into the camera and gestures to her eye in a knowing way)
Alyssa: Ohh there’s so many. I definitely love the Exploratorium, going along the lines of math and stuff. Being a math tutor in addition to choreographer which both involve a lot of counting, I love how interactive it is. There’s also a lot of motion stuff, so it ties together movement with science and math.
Andréa: Dancing indoors or outdoors?
Alyssa: It used to be indoors, but this whole year has made me develop a passion for dancing and being outdoors. I’ve gotten into running and have done 4 half marathons. [Dancing outdoors] brings in unexpected [elements]. You know, a crowd that you would never expect if you were just taking a class. The connections I’ve made with people has been really cool.
Andréa: Very true. Intricate costumes or all black?
Alyssa: Intricate costumes. I used to love wearing all black, but this past year working with a costume designer for the first time and being able to come up with cool patterns has really made me develop a passion for getting a little adventurous and not just choosing something simple.
Andréa: Another artist is delayed to the show, you have to take the stage to fill the gap. Do you freestyle to music or silence?
Alyssa: I think music. Definitely music. Even if it’s recorded, there’s something about music that inspires the movement. I’ll be able to show a different style of movement depending on the music.
Andréa: What’s a piece of advice that has stayed with you over the years?
Alyssa: Focus on your own journey and process. Each person is so unique and you never know what will come up for you if you keep taking it day by day. Trusting the process and not comparing your journey to someone else’s.
Andréa: Agree. Very much so, agreed. What’s a future goal or dream?
Alyssa: Right now, [as a choreographer] I’m working towards my first outdoor production which is a goal I’ve had for a really long time. Looking in the future, I’d love to choreograph on other companies in different states. I want to be able to travel and choreograph abroad. I love the Bay Area so much, but it’s important to go to other communities and draw inspiration and take what you learn back to homebase.
Andréa: So what haven’t we asked that you want people to know?
Alyssa: How I work as a choreographer. I love collaborating! In the past few years, when I first started choreographing I really wrote down EVERY single step, this goes THERE and I’ll teach this part HERE. I’ve really developed a style of choreographing my own phrases but then having dancers come up with prompts that have to do with the piece. Also working with musicians and costume designers, everything is more collaborative. There’s a good balance between my own ideas and listening to other people. I think that’s really allowed me to grow.
Andréa: Last thing, Show us your favorite dance move!
Alyssa: Oouu okay! (stands up from her seat)
[Video transitions to show Alyssa standing up in her home with the camera aimed down at her feet.]
Alyssa: There’s my laundry ha!
(she proceeds to do a barefoot tap timestep)
Stomp, hop, step, flap stamp stomp, the timestep.
[Alyssa returns to her seat]
Andréa: Thank you so much for sharing that with us!
[Theme music fades in]
Alyssa: Yes! Thank you for including me in this, that was fun.
Andréa: Thanks everyone for tuning into 10 in 10, the first of our experimental column for In Dance, with Alyssa Mitchel!
If you’d like to get in touch with Alyssa Mitchel, please follow the links below.
This conversation appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of In Dance.
In Dance is a publication of Dancers’ Group.