Abby Chellis

what are some things you believe?

This is a piece that consists of pieces — moments, thoughts, movements, choices, impulses, questions, prayers. One body, yes, but more than one space and more than one time. A year ago, I had an idea of what my capstone process and culminating product would look like. And I thought I had a general idea of who I was too. But then, circumstances shifted, plans changed, and my research had to happen differently than expected. More moment-to-moment rather than scheduled rehearsals, more “I dance when I want to dance”, less pushing myself too far and in too many directions. My understanding of myself varied by the day, as did my heart for what I was doing. Losses were felt in new and different ways. At times I felt secure, at others, overwhelmed and adrift. Through collecting my dance in pieces, and taking them apart, and piecing them back together, I have chosen to acknowledge that multiplicity rather than fight it. So this year was not the year I thought it would be. This work is not the unchanging whole that I thought I would make. This is a piece that consists of pieces — I have learned to see myself through them, and I hope you learn to see yourself too. 

Artist Statement

Collecting and connecting, opening and uncovering. Dancing is a gentle untangling, a processing, an engaging with more than one kind of practice. I begin by collecting the movements, the thoughts, the moments of sensation that matter to me, and then bring these into conversation with an inseparable faith and an interdependent writing process. What results is a dance that attempts to worship what I know to be true and to simultaneously honor my many wondering and wanderings. Balancing casual and deliberate, my movement choices mirror the lifelong process of untangling life, what feels difficult more often than it feels easy, but also feels right, and true. In making and sharing my process, I invite others to collect and connect, open and uncover, with me.

Introducing Abby

Abby Chellis is a dancer, choreographer, and stage manager whose experience of performance began at the age of 3 in a small town in New Hampshire. Dancing first in the backyard studio of Valerie Newton, she trained initially in ballet and later expanded to modern, improvisation, and composition in high school primarily under the instruction of Kay McCabe. After thirteen years on the stage, she became increasingly intrigued by the world of production and the off-stage elements of performing arts. Abby has gained extensive experience in stage management of straight plays, musicals, dance performances, and other public events. While earning her Bachelor of Arts as a double major in Dance and Spanish at Mount Holyoke College, Abby’s creative involvement continued to range from technical to choreographic to performance based. It is through these areas, intersecting with her faith and writing practices, that Abby processes who she is and how she experiences the world around her. As a choreographer, engaging in the vulnerable practice of making dance for the stage is how she invites others to come alongside and join in her processing. 

A patterned blanket is spread on green grass, a laptop covered in stickers, an open notebook with writing, a partially empty iced coffee, and two dirty bare feet resting on the
blanket. One red sandal is left alone next to the blanket.

Thank you to…the many friends who have listened, prayed, and loved me through this process…my roommates, for letting me take over our basement and putting up with my frustration while editing…Sophie Clingan, Evelyn Kirby, Olivia Shields, and Grace Thompson for engaging with my process in its earliest stages…and to my fellow seniors — Aggie Johnson, Anna Hendricks, Hannah Nagy, Izzy Kalodner, Olivia Lowe, Rin Elwell — I am endlessly grateful for each one of you, for your supportive presence and our many calls, emails, drives, docs, chats, and more…Thank you.