An Interview with Kara Davis, on LINES Ballet Discovery Project

Discovery Project was on the move this year! We conducted our first Discovery Project in our own home at LINES Dance Center in San Francisco CA, Tampa FL., Dallas TX and also held a private workshop in West Palm Beach FL. We were graciously welcomed by our hosts, students, and community and felt honored to work with a talented and diverse group of students and communities from around the country! Our 2016 Discovery Project faculty included Master teachers Peta Barrett, LeeWei Chao, Sandra Chinn, Kara Davis, Arturo Fernandez, Maurya Kerr, Dexandro Montalvo and Caroline Rocher. Congratulations to our 2016 Discovery Project Scholarship recipients Jane Anthony, Mahalia Brookes, Tea Devereaux, Maia Kaimakliotis, Eleni Loving and Shelby Russ. – Tammy Cheney, LINES Summer Program Director

Read more about the LINES Discovery Project in this feature with faculty member, Kara Davis:

What is your favorite part about being a faculty member for LINES Discovery Project (DP)?

I get inspired so much by the teachers I work alongside, the way they teach, how their ideas energize and inform my own teaching.  I love working together as a team with them.

What is one memorable moment with a student during DP?

There is a 10-year old in my class in Dallas right now that is just drinking up information.  It’s so inspiring to see her taking ownership of her dancing and not being intimidated by the fact that she is surrounded by 14 year olds.  She isn’t “following” anyone either; her example of self-reliance is contagious in the room!

What is a challenging experience during DP?

Sustaining my energy over 4.5 hours of teaching.  I get a lot of energy from the students’ enthusiasm though.

How do you think dance influences the students you teach on DP?

Dance physicalizes the push to go beyond what one feels they are capable of doing, thinking, and creating for oneself.  Because DP is such a jam-packed intensive, the dancers have to work fast to take in all the information they are given. There is such little time to absorb everything and not a lot of time to fall into doubt, self-criticism, or resisting new approaches to movement.  Having dancers work with dancers from other communities that they have just met inside this circumstance generates a quickened level of trust that is beautiful to witness.  Because they have to present what they have been working on only four days after meeting one another, they are much more expedient about opening up to one another.  In contemporary partnering I always have them work with someone they didn’t know before coming to DP. The partnering I teach them is not gender specific.  I love watching young girls getting excited about learning how to lift someone, male or female.  Sharing weight, being responsible for someone else’s body, being clear with how to touch someone else physicalizes trust, makes it palpable, tangible.  Ultimately, that’s what gets “performed” during Sunday’s showing.

What do you wish your students on DP would continue to do/pursue after your workshops end?

Learn about one another’s dance practices and life experiences; continue their friendships.  Inspire one another to try new things in dancing or otherwise. I hope they avoid hardening into narrow conformist approaches to dancing and living.  I hope they continue to look for questions rather than collect answers.  I hope they come away understanding the richness of process rather than the momentary satisfaction of arrival.  I hope they continue to broaden their sense of what it is to be powerful, beautiful, honest, and open.


The Discovery Project addresses ways to use dance to bridge gaps created by diversity of experience, perspective, culture, and socioeconomic background. We aim to contribute to the overall awareness and support of dance in communities all over the country. The program was initiated in 2008 with an inaugural project in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since that first successful project, our program has broadened to include locations as diverse as St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; and Oakland, California.

While the Discovery Project season has concluded for the year, we are beginning to organize and plan our 2016 Discovery Projects. Interested schools and organizations should contact Program Director Tammy Cheney to discuss the possibility of Discovery Project visiting your community in 2017!

Video by Aaron Bonner
Cover photo by Monica Sue Nielsen