Kazlyn Nielsen is an exquisitely talented doe-eyed beauty who hails from the great state of Utah. She is a witty and humble vegetarian with a pair of the greatest legs I’ve ever seen. Kazlyn is currently a corps artist in her 5th season with Ballet West, and one of four choreographers selected to participate in their choreographic program, Works from Within. The program requires the choreographers to create a work on their peers between 15-20 minutes long, with full creative reigns on choosing their music, costumes, lighting and dancers. Kazlyn is the only female choreographer participating this year, and I’m thrilled to be in her piece and have the opportunity to share some insight into the mind of a young, multi-talented artist and friend.

What originally inspired you to submit an idea to be considered for Works from Within?

I got a nudge to want to create something even though I wasn’t sure what exactly. I went with my instincts and decided to just go for it and submit my proposal.

Do you see a future for yourself in choreography after/during your career as a professional ballerina?

Because I’m just starting out, I don’t necessarily see a future in choreography just yet. I’m not sure where it will lead me but it would definitely be an interesting and exciting path if I do chose to pursue it in the future.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of this process?

Transitioning what I feel and see in my mind into movement that can be presented well on stage. Also, being in charge of dancers for once instead of actually being the dancer has been a very new experience for me.

What’s been the most fun/eye-opening part of the process?

Watching the dancers bring the movement to life and making it their own! Seeing where my choreography leads me and how it evolves from it’s original idea. The results are not always what I expect so that can be exciting.

Describe the experience of choreographing for and directing your peers.

Directing my peers is definitely a new experience for me. It’s about finding the balance between being an assertive director, and still being a respective co-worker. I’m also working on growing a stronger voice while in the front of the room. That’s been a bit of a challenge for me because I usually tend to be a more soft spoken person. I’m used to listening and taking direction. It’s empowering but also strange being in charge.

What, if anything, do you want to convey through your choreography? How do you want the audience to feel when your piece is over?

I hope to convey a sense of stillness, a breath of peace amidst this often crazy life. I want the audience to feel a sense of quietness in their hearts, maybe just a moment of relief from their own lives.

What do you believe to be the reason(s) for fewer female choreographers in dance?

I think it’s already a social norm in the dance world (or the world in general) for men to be in a position of power. I hate to say it, but it also seems like men enjoy being in control and in charge and have a much easier time with it than women do in dance.
If there is one thing you could change about the professional dance world, what would it be?

Less negative criticism and more positive support. We’re all artists after all!

….couldn’t agree with you more Kazlyn! I think it’s very important that we continue to empower and encourage women to be “in the front of the room”……My pointe exactly.

Main photo by Luke Isley