Vulnerability is Power

 By Carolyn Cruze Photos by Mark McCambridge

After winning the 2015 Graduate Emerging Artist Award of the Department of Dance and graduating with her MFA from the UO in 2015, Katie Scherman has continued her work as an independent choreographer and dancer with BodyVox in Portland.

BodyVox combines classical ballet, modern and contemporary acrobatics, theater, and comedy to present a multifaceted dance experience. Emmy Award-winning choreographers Jamey Hampton and Ashely Roland lead the company.

“They create an environment full of laughter, positivity, and encouragement,” Scherman says of her mentors. “It’s really nice to work for people you’re excited to work for.” 

“Our goal is to take the audience out  of their daily lives and to be present as witnesses to this work of art,” she adds.  Scherman is practicing what she preaches: her current project involves a collaboration with creative professionals from different fields—none of whom have danced before. The presentation of their collaborative work premiered at the BodyVox studio in April. 

Scherman has been able to contribute to the project in multiple modes, as a dancer, a choreographer, and a teacher, thanks to her experience studying with members of UO dance faculty. She specifically sites work with Professor Steven Chatfield and Associate Professor Shannon Mockli as relevant to her time with BodyVox.

“Shannon and Steven both taught me and inspired me to be the most supportive facilitator,” says Scherman. “They revealed to me how vulnerability is really powerful because it allows you to relate on a human level, which I think develops a really great connection between students and teachers.”

Scherman also worked as a graduate teaching fellow while studying at the UO.

“I had to have a lot of hats on in addition to teaching dance classes, being a student, and doing administrative work,” Scherman says. “I think all of those hats have aided me now in my ability to find ways to be invested, and to juggle different roles.”

Outside of her schooling, Scherman has held guest residencies at Pacific University, the University of Utah, Terpsichorean Dance Company, and BodyVox’s Junior Artists Generator youth training program. She also teaches at the Northwest Dance Project. While her future plans are yet to be decided, Scherman dreams of one day opening her own company, and of contributing to dance education to create meaningful and powerful work in schools all over the country.