Barnard dance professor Caitlin Trainor is back on campus after working to hone her craft with the Dance Omi International Dance Collective.
The collective is a residency that brings together a handful of choreographers from across the globe for a three-week collaborative exchange in Ghent, N.Y. This year, the participants were from Belgium, Ecuador, France, India, Israel, Germany, Jordan, and the United States.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime award given to artists around the world,” Trainor said.
Founded in 2005, Omi provides 10 dancers and choreographers of all styles with a space to devote to experimentation. The program provides meals and housing for its artists so that they are “completely unfettered by the tasks of daily life,” Trainor said.
Although Trainor was selected to participate in the competitive program, she hadn’t always planned on dancing professionally. While she began dancing at an early age, she wasn’t aware of the existence of modern dance or of the possibility of dancing professionally until she was 19, when she took her first modern class. Her decision to become a professional dancer was “brazen and irrational,” but she came from a family that “didn’t pressure me to do something economically viable,” she said.
After graduating from Skidmore College, she attended graduate school at Mills College, where she was mentored by Barnard Dance Department Chair Mary Cochran. Cochran eventually asked her to take up a position as a modern dance instructor at Barnard. She also runs her own company, Trainor Dance.
Trainor does not recommend a career in dance unless someone is adamantly motivated to pursue it.
“The obstacles have been many,” she said, adding that the dance world is “full of rejection.” She attributed the difficulty of making it in the dance world to “the scarcity of resources,” which causes contention between dancers.
With her own company, Trainor is generally “under various stressors,” which stem from funding issues as well as internal and external rivalry, she said.
Because rehearsal time in the studio can be costly, she is also hypersensitive about using it as effectively as possible.
With the dance collective behind her, Trainor is applying for a grant to go to Israel next summer to continue her work with one of her collaborators, Yoni Soutchy. She’s also working on several other projects, one of which will be performed at the Riverside Church theatre in November.