by Dave Warner

Another dance company has made its way to Upstate New York and is spending time in the area, in the Just Dance Studio in Little Falls.

Emily Kessler is the director of POGO Dance Projects. The company was established as a container for her endeavors in choreography and collaboration. She utilizes a background in art history as a line of inquiry into the shaping of spatial architecture with movement.

Kessler is also interested in exploring how dance without a direct narrative structure can act as a vehicle for shared experience through performers and audience members alike.

Hannah Straney made them aware of the area and said, “She is finishing the last couple of days of her two-week residency up here.”

Kessler said that they’ve been working around Cazenovia, St Johnsville, and Utica in addition to Little Falls.

“We’re working on three pieces. Two are brand new, and the one we’re working on today in Little Falls is an evening-length work that is focused on ideas of nostalgia, home, and longing. We’re pulling out these ideas of places that maybe we haven’t been able to access because of the pandemic, or places we call home that we don’t get to visit anymore. Old houses, old artifacts, and memories.”

Kessler has been choreographing for six years, but in early 2020 is when she founded her company. “We had all of this stuff set up and we were super excited and then the pandemic happened. So many other people have a similar story though.”

She said that they were really cut short at that point. “Last fall we put on a free show in a park in Brooklyn and we’re continuing that work again this year to just try and bring free accessible dance to audiences of our community. Also, since we’ve been up here, we’ve been able to work with the communities giving masterclasses and showing students of Utica Dance a little of what we’re doing here.”

Kessler said that their main focus is creating work, but what is important to them as well, is sharing what they’re doing, making that choreographic process available to other dancers who might not have the ability to create at a high level that her group is capable of.

“The choreographic process is often elusive – where do the steps come from? What makes a dance? So a little bit that we’ve done with the workshops is teaching some improvisation – demystifying it for the students,” she stated.

Kessler said, “Little Falls seems very sweet and nostalgic. The way that Hanah has talked about it and the way that we’ve experienced it – I have felt very comfortable and at home here.”