John Cartwright is originally from Madisonville, KY and began his training in Evansville, IN at the Children’s Center for Dance Education. He continued his training with the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, Nashville Ballet, Ballet Austin, National Taiwan University of the Arts, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company. He has had the privilege to work with choreographers such as Steven Mills, Val Caniprioli, Adam Hougland, Helen Pickett, Amy Seiwert, and Lila York. John graduated from Butler University in May 2008 with a degree in Dance – Arts Administration and joined the Louisville Ballet that fall. He has worked as guest artist with Ballet Arkansas, the Indianapolis Opera, and as a dancer/choreographer with Louisville’s Moving Collective. John joined Thodos Dance Chicago as a work/study intern this year and is excited to call Chicago home!
As of now it’s been 2 full weeks and I love it! This is my first experience in retail work and I am really glad I am able to work in a dance supply store. It’s fun to meet so many different types of dancers and hear about their experiences. Because our store offers such a wide variety of dance apparel and accessories, I’ve had the opportunity to get a sense of the depth and breadth of the dance scene here in Chicago.
How long have you lived in Chicago?
I began my journey in Chicago in late April 2010, but I was only here part-time. During the week I was rehearsing for Thodos Dance Chicago’s New Dances, and on the weekends I had to drive back to Louisville for rehearsals for another summer project I was doing with a few dancers from the Louisville Ballet and Louisville’s Moving Collective. It wasn’t till early July when I was finally in Chicago full-time, and by the end of July I had finally moved all my things! I’m happy to finally be in one place, and I love it here!
What are your goals as a dancer/choreographer?
As a dancer, every day I’m honing my technique, trying to get my body ready for the day, and constantly trying to find different ways to approach the movement. Beyond that I strive to keep dance fresh for me, whether that’s exploring a different style of dance or a different teacher. As a dance performer I’m trying to make my movement bigger, look effortless, and make it real, genuine. In my choreography I try to make dance relevant to our lives. I like to tell stories with my dances. Whether it’s narrative or abstract, there is always a thematic story or idea behind my movement. I hope that one day my choreography and dancing will take me around the world, as I love to travel!
What inspired you to be a dancer/choreographer?
I started dancing as part of a musical theatre summer camp in my hometown of Madisonville, KY, and after the first day the dance instructor asked me how long I had been taking dance lessons. When I told her that I had never taken a dance class before she immediately got me a registration form for her studio and I began taking ballet with her that fall. I think I have always had a knack for performing and being creative. In first grade, when asked what we wanted to be when we grow up, I told my teacher that I wanted to be famous! As a child I always made my siblings dress up in costumes with me and make-believe we were in a castle somewhere fighting dragons or American pioneers discovering the Wild West. I was just lucky enough to be encouraged by my 8th Grade English teacher to do the summer camp, and lucky enough to have a ballet teacher see some potential in me. As for my choreography, that didn’t come till later, in college. It was at Butler when I began to work with professors who were constantly creating new works on us, and it was there when I began to learn about famous and important choreographers. I suddenly realized that I could create too, and that just fed my passion for creativity and make-believe that had always been there!