This is the season for change for longtime Cincinnati Ballet Principal Dancer Kristi Capps: She’ll soon retire from the company that’s been her home since 1996, marking one of the longest tenures of any dancer with Cincinnati Ballet.
Her final performances with the company will take place as part of The Sammy Project! bill. Appropriately, the Ballet’s Artistic Director and CEO Victoria Morgan choreographed an intimate pas de deux for Capps to dance with her husband and partner of many years, former Cincinnati Ballet Principal Dancer Dmitri “Dima” Trubchanov.
CityBeat: How are you feeling right now?
Kristi Capps: It’s coming up quite quickly! I was confident in my decision. I’m fine. I’m excited. I’m just kind of taking one day at a time, honestly. I’m not foreseeing how the last day’s gonna be. I don’t know — I just want to be in the moment until it’s over next week.
CB: What have been your favorite roles to dance?
KC: My dream when I was younger was I always wanted to be Juliet. Going through the acting of (Romeo and Juliet) definitely felt like I learned a lot from it. And it was even better getting to do it again, because the second time you’ve done it, you can either expand or change it.
CB: The most challenging roles?
KC: I didn’t ever have the dream necessarily of doing the full-length Swan Lake or Giselle. Those to me just seemed quite untouchable just because of the legacy behind them. I was fearful of stepping into (those roles). I mean, Swan Lake is a really challenging ballet; it’s just hard all the way through in different ways. And I would never say that I did a role really, really well, but … I’m glad I overcame my fear of those roles. They are just the epitome of classical ballet. All the greats do those.
CB: What prompted your decision to retire from Cincinnati Ballet?
KC: There were other things I wanted to do: I really wanted to go back to school and finish getting a degree. I really like yoga and I really wanted to explore that a little bit more. I feel I can maybe use my voice in a different way now. Also, Dima and I were apart for a year and we don’t really want to be apart any more. I’m happy and I’ve had a wonderful career here. … I don’t want to completely, completely hang up my shoes, but you never know, maybe I will.
CB: What kept you with Cincinnati Ballet all these years?
KC: A lot of it was I always continued to be challenged.
Victoria (Morgan) has given me the opportunity to stay, and she’s allowed me to do it as long as I’ve wanted to do it. I mean, really this has been my family here, with the dancers and cast and wardrobe and crew. After a certain amount of years being somewhere — it’s not that I got complacent or got comfortable — but it was just my family, and it’s where I was nurtured and supported. And also Dima and I met, and it’s just kinda how the cards fell. Yeah, it’s my home. It was my home. It is my home. (JM)
Krista Gregory, gallery director for Aisle Gallery
Krista Gregory helped found Aisle Gallery in 2007, and just returned from maternity leave to balance a career in the arts and motherhood.
CityBeat: How was Aisle Gallery created?
KG: It started off as a hallway off of the frame shop I’d been working in since graduate school. We formed in September 2007, first using the hallway and later expanding into a studio room that had previously been rented out.
CB: What kind of background do you have in art? Why open a gallery?
KG: I received a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from University of Cincinnati’s DAAP. After that, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. Even with coursework in art education, I couldn’t find a teaching job outside of adjunct positions. I’d been working at the frame shop for years, and Bill Renschler had the idea to start showcasing local artists. I jumped on it — it meant I’d be employed, making a living and doing what I want to be doing.
CB: You’re the head director and curator for Aisle Gallery and you just returned from having a baby. What kinds of challenges does that bring? Any worries about managing the gallery and being a new mom?
KG: There’s so much support and flexibility here, so I think I’ll be fine. In fact, if anything, I think I’ll be better off. The experience (of motherhood) has already, I think, made me a richer person …The experience really brings out a nurturing side — I care about things a little bit differently now, and I think that will help my perspective (at Aisle).
CB: What kind of unique perspective do you think you bring to the gallery? Why is that important?
KG: I have a real concern for showcasing local talent. It’s really easy to lose sight of the people creating work around you [in Cincinnati] when there are artists in New York City or Los Angeles gaining so much more recognition. Of course what’s happening in those places are important, too, but there are so many great things happening here. (HM)
Justine Ludwig, curator at Contemporary Arts Center
Justine Ludwig has been with CAC for two years and recently finished curating her first exhibition, Mumbai (female) artist Shilpa Gupta’s first solo museum show, A Bit Closer.
CityBeat: Are you an artist yourself? Is making art your first love?
Justine Ludwig: I’ve been interested in art ever since I was a child. I studied studio art and art history in college. There are people who are much, much better than me, and what’s really important to me is being able to find really brilliant artists and showcasing their talent. I still make art sometimes.
CB: What kind of unique perspective or value do you think you bring to CAC?
JL: Every curator brings his or her own perspective, and I love that the gallery becomes a laboratory for us to try out new things. For me, I really want to focus on embracing the community more. We’re looking to showcase more local artists. I’m especially really interested in the voice of DIY culture in Cincinnati.
CB: How did you find out about Shilpa Gupta? Other new, innovative artists?
JL: Shilpa is a new media artist from Mumbai. I did my thesis work in graduate school on how India doesn’t really have a strong system for funding contemporary art. I spent three months in Mumbai living to work on this project, doing studio visits and immersing myself in the contemporary arts scene … I travel quite a bit to research contemporary art and look to possibilities for future exhibitions.
CB: Why is your job as a curator so important?
JL: We become cultural translators — we bring stories of life together.
CB: What prompted you to become a curator? Why go this route instead of creating art yourself?
JL: It was Raphaela Platow who really inspired me to move to Cincinnati and work with CAC. I met Raphaela in Massachusetts — she was a curator at the Brandeis Rose Art Museum. I took this job specifically because I believe in her vision wholeheartedly — when the opportunity came, it was too good to pass up. What I really embrace about Raphaela is that she’s willing to take risks, experiment and try new things.
CB: What about you? Any risks and experiments?
JL: Right now I’m working with Rosson Crow to create an entire body of works to exhibit motorcycle culture. It’ll be a mixture of design and fine art — large paintings will create a set to explore “Wild America” through motorcycle culture. (HM) �