Spotlight Iowa City: The queen of dance at the UI

BY MARISA WAY | APRIL 05, 2010 7:30 AM

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Stationary. This word means nothing to Deanna Carter in either her professional or personal life.

Whether it is flying between continents, across the stage, or through ideas, the one thing that Carter understands better than any other is how to move. With all this time spent in the air, one might wonder: Does she ever spend any time with her feet planted?

“She is able to do what she really loves to do,” said Ann Stevenson, a longtime friend of Carter’s. “That completely grounds her.”

Stevenson has known Carter since she was 22, when she shared an apartment with the then 17-year-old Carter in New York City. The two were drawn there from their hometown of Seattle to study their passion: ballet.

Carter will soon travel back to New York City to showcase her work as a choreographer for Ballet Builders 2010. The event, from Friday to April 11, will feature the work of five choreographers, including Carter. Members of the dance company Ballet Quad Cities will present Carter’s piece, “Ash to Glass.” Carter’s work was picked from a pool of approximately 200 applicants.

Carter first found out she had been selected for Ballet Builders 2010 in December. However, before she could accept the opportunity, she had to determine if it was even feasible to go. She would be required to bring her own dancers, and traveling to New York City from the Midwest would bring some hefty travel expenses. Ballet Quad Cities, where Carter is resident choreographer, raised the money required to send the dancers to New York City.

Whether Carter was the one onstage, or the person backstage choreographing the dances, she said, dance has been a presence in her life since childhood.

“I’ve been choreographing since I was 11,” she said. “I thought that was what people did. I would make my friends come over on the weekends, and my dad would move the furniture around.”

Carter’s ambitions eventually grew from performing in front of family and friends to include work on a more global scale. She spent 14 years choreographing in Europe and worked with various dance companies in Mexico. Despite these extensive travels, she has found exactly what she was looking for as an assistant professor in the UI dance department.

“One of the things that attracted me about the University of Iowa is that it values creative researchers in choreography,” Carter said. “It’s also been a pleasure to be able to collaborate with the music department and the theater department. I think it’s really important for emerging artists to be able to learn from people who have done it in the field.”

Despite the passion she possesses for her work, she said, it is not without its challenges.

“Things are rough for the arts right now,” she said. “Nobody has money right now … arts is the first thing that seem to become unimportant to society.”

Stevenson said Carter’s ability to succeed has followed the woman through her life.

“Deanna can do well at anything,” she said. “She puts her all into anything she does.”

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