PODCAST 158: Hope Mohr
Release Date: 6.5.23
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Activism, Dance, and Co-Leadership with Hope Mohr
Episode 158: Show Notes.
Dance, movement, performance, and art-making can play many roles in one’s life. And how they are expressed can change shape over the course of a career. Our guest today, Hope Mohr, has woven together a life of art and activism as a choreographer, curator, and advocate. She has had a fascinating career journey, dedicating herself to both dance and activism and finding new and innovative ways to integrate the two. We talk with Hope about the inexorable pull that dance has exerted on her throughout her life and how her feminist awakening in college inspired her activism. She tells us about the leave of absence she took from studying law (on more than one occasion) to pursue unmissable dance opportunities with legends like Lucinda Childs and Trisha Brown, and shares how she finally completed her law degree before founding a presenting platform called The Bridge Project. Hope goes on to describe the project’s transition to co-ownership, changing their name to Bridge Live Arts, why she chose to leave after 15 years, and what it’s been like returning to work as an independent artist after so many collaborative projects. Our conversation today covers urgent and meaningful topics, from dismantling existing power structures and redistributing power within dance to returning to yourself and learning how to listen to your inner voice as an artist. To learn more about Hope’s fascinating journey and bigger questions about dance and power, be sure to tune in today!
Key Points From This Episode:
- Hope’s upbringing in San Francisco and her early love of dance and ballet.
- An overview of the dance projects, companies, and training that Hope has been a part of.
- The leave of absence that Hope took from law school to pursue dance opportunities (on more than one occasion).
- Hope’s dedication to dance and activism throughout her career.
- Learn about The Bridge Project, a presenting platform Hope started in 2010.
- How the project transitioned to a model of co-leadership and was renamed Bridge Live Arts.
- Hope’s decision to take the bar exam (and pass it) just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Why Hope has continually found herself returning to dance throughout her life.
- Her feminist awakening and how it led to her activism and work as a lawyer.
- Reflections on the cycles of burnout Hope has experienced and what keeps her going.
- How Hope moved back to the Bay area and started her own studio.
- The focus of Hope’s work as a choreographer: motherhood and navigating the world as someone who identifies as female.
- An overview of the curation and collaborative work Hope has done for Bridge Live Arts.
- What informed Hope’s decision to move away from Bridge Live Arts; tending to herself as an artist and making space for a more equitable distribution of power.
- Locating these changes in the bigger, national conversation around a redistribution of power, race, equity, and co-leadership in dance.
- The need for grants and other means of support to fund a transition to co-leadership.
- Hope’s return to being an independent artist and her latest new work.
- The most significant challenges Hope has faced in her career, along with her biggest highlights.
“I think I’ve always had a very hungry mind and a real passion for social justice work. So that has been a throughline. But dancing has always been my first love. So yeah, it’s been a real calling for me. It still is.” — Hope Mohr
Hope Mohr (she/her) is an artist and advocate.
As a choreographer, Mohr makes work that “conveys emotional and socio-political contents that ride just underneath the surface of a rigorous vocabulary.” (Dance View Times). Her performance work has been presented by Movement Research at Judson Church (NYC), 18th Street Arts Center (LA), Highways Performance Space (LA), Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore), di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art (Sonoma), Moody Center for the Arts (Houston), and in the Bay Area at SFMOMA, ODC Theater, Counterpulse, ICA San Francisco, 836M Gallery, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
As a dancer, Mohr trained at S.F. Ballet School and on scholarship at the Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown Studios in New York City. She performed in the companies of dance pioneers Lucinda Childs and Trisha Brown. While dancing in New York, Mohr also freelanced with Liz Gerring, Douglas Dunn, Trajal Herrell, and Pat Catterson.
In 2007, she founded Hope Mohr Dance (HMD). In 2010, she founded HMD’s presenting program, The Bridge Project. In 2020, she co-stewarded the organization’s transition to a model of distributed leadership. In 2022, the organization changed its name to Bridge Live Arts and its mission to creating and supporting equity-driven live art that centers artists as agents of change. In 2023, Hope transitioned out of Co-Directorship and into Affiliated Artist status with Bridge Live Arts. She now works as an independent artist fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas.
Hope teaches contemporary dance technique, creative movement, movement for actors, and cross-disciplinary practice that puts dance in dialogue with visual art. She has taught at PARTS (Brussels), the Trisha Brown Studio (NYC), 18th Street Arts Center (LA), and in the Bay Area at Stanford University, American Conservatory Theater, Shawl-Anderson, ODC, and the Lines Ballet/Dominican B.F.A. program.
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Podcast produced by: The Moving Architects
Interviewer: Erin Carlisle Norton