by Carolyn Arnold
Expect an encore from Katherine Loh ’12, a professional ballerina who recently finished a successful season dancing with CelloPointe, an innovative company that fuses chamber music with contemporary choreography.
Loh, who has been dancing professionally since she graduated from high school, began performing with the company in the fall of 2012, soon after she graduated from Fairfield University. A ballet teacher involved with CelloPointe steered her towards the company.
The performances of CelloPointe are unique in that the musicians and dancers perform on stage together, creating an intimate atmosphere and a stirring combination of the traditional and avant-garde.
Working with the company has been an amazing experience for Loh. “The environment and the people are very supportive and it’s a great opportunity to work with world-class musicians and choreographers,” she said.
Chamber music is a form of classical music meant for a small group of performers. It’s an intimate style of music that has been described as similar to conversations between friends, which is fitting because of the shared focus of the musicians and the dancers on stage.
“The company is an equal collaboration of choreographers, musicians, and the dancers,” Loh said. “A lot of times other companies are more focused on the choreography or the dancers, but here the musicians are equally represented.”
Loh took her first ballet lesson when she was five years old and knew by the time she was in middle school that she wanted to dance professionally. She has trained at the Atlanta Ballet Center for Dance Education, Studio Maestro, in New York City, and the Joffery Ballet. As a professional ballerina, she has danced both classical and contemporary roles for the Charleston Ballet Theater, Connecticut Ballet, Staten Island Ballet, and Neglia Ballet Artists. In New York, she has danced for Continuum Contemporary Ballet, Some Dance Company, and Morales Dance.
Despite the demands of her schedule when she became a professional dancer, Loh also pursued her college degree at Fairfield University as a part-time studies student. While she lived and danced in Charleston, S.C., she would take online courses. During the summer, she would stay with her parents, who live in Fairfield, Conn., and attend courses on campus.
Loh admitted that her college experience was “kind of unconventional” but it worked well for her despite the added commitment. “I found it really refreshing. I was so focused on ballet that school gave me a little bit of an escape.”
Working on course assignments also helped relieve the nerves present for upcoming performances. “I would have to concentrate on writing a paper or taking an exam, and that would serve as a bit of a distraction from the pressures of an upcoming show,” she said.
Loh graduated with honors and a degree in communication and a minor in English — very impressive, considering the fact that the majority of her days were filled with dancing.
Although CelloPointe has concluded its season, people can still see Loh perform with other companies she dances for, such as Staten Island Ballet and Somes Dance Company. She has also recently begun to teach ballet to teenage students in New York and Connecticut. Altogether it can be a lot to juggle, but Loh takes it all in stride. This summer she’ll be dancing for CelloPointe again and looks forward to performing with the dancers and musicians again.
“Performances give me a feeling of freedom. During rehearsals we stop and go, analyzing and repeating, in order to make each step as perfect as possible. When you’re performing onstage you have to let go of that mindset a bit, and be in the moment with your audience.”