How did you get your start in theatre and dance? I started out in dance as a 3-year old. A little ‘chubby dumpling.’ And really never had a second thought that that’s what I was going to do. Which I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had parents that put me in dance and stuck with me through it—because it wasn’t always easy on them to get me into good quality classes and training. I launched into my career at 16 and had a really amazing career. I had a 22-year professional career, which a lot of people don’t have.
And then I met my husband who is a creative genius. It’s his vision that fuels Wonderbound, then I make sure it can all happen.
What personal experiences have most influenced your work and style? Well, I had a lot of really diverse training. I was very heavily trained in the classical form, from a child all the way through when I started my career. For the first three years it was pretty classical, the ballet that I was doing. But then I went to Europe and I got a taste of the contemporary side of things. Then came back to Memphis and got still the classical but also the contemporary along with it. I’ve had the good fortune of working with such a large array of choreographers when it comes to dance. And good and bad doesn’t really matter, because you’re always learning, regardless. They might have been just little moments in time that stay with me. I think everything that I was able to learn as a dancer and an artist I’m now able to convey to our dancers (at Wonderbound). But also to have a breadth of knowledge that, when we’re working with our collaborating artists, that I also can use that in those terms. The beautiful thing is I’m also constantly learning from those people. So I feel like my toolkit is ever-expanding. I feel that it’s very much a two-way street. And in fact, in our reality it’s kind of a big boulevard. It’s many lanes on both sides and there’s a long line of trees in the middle that you can pass through easily. And that kind of way of entering into the world and being able to create and also view things through a different lens constantly—just because we work with such a wide array of people. But also still having all of those experiences that go back to when I was three—it’s a beautiful minutiae and 10,000 ft. at the same time.
I don’t know anyone other than my husband, because we do this together, who has that kind of daily experience with their art and the world around them. So I consider us to be incredibly fortunate. And sometimes it can be overwhelming (laughs), “It’s like, oh my God, I don’t understand what’s happening right now.” But again, that just keeps pushing you to explore new ways of thinking about things and, take it or leave it, you’ve gone through a process each time and sometimes it’s a very quick process—you have to assimilate information very quickly and put it back out into the world in the way that you have digested it, but that kind of what art is.
Okay, a fun one—you can go to an hour lunch with anyone, anywhere…where and with whom do you go and why? Oh, wow, that is amazing. ‘Where’ is hard. The who is I would honestly have to say Barack Obama. I think he’s probably one of the most intelligent human beings on the planet and it’s a shame that that hasn’t been able to come to realization. I would want to meet him someplace that has authentic Memphis barbecue. Yeah, just sit there and snarf down some barbecue sandwiches with Barack Obama. Maybe it’s on a terrace at the White House and then after we eat our barbecue we can smoke cigarettes and talk about life. That would be amazing. With barbecue on our shirts (laughs).
End of Part I—stay posted!
Dawn Fay’s professional career spanned more than twenty years, including being named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch.” In 2007, she was named Producing Director of Wonderbound where she works closely with Artistic Director Garrett Ammon on the development and creation of his new works in addition to facilitating the collaborations with Wonderbound’s plethora of multi-genre artists. Dawn plays a key role in Wonderbound’s fundraising efforts, and is deeply involved in all of Wonderbound’s community programs including the highly interactive in-school education programs and Project Generations, which brings dance into the lives of seniors at retirement homes across Denver.
Dawn is married to Artistic Director Garrett Ammon.