100 Creatives 2013: Amy Llanes, Artistic Director of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company

Amy Llanes and Jamie Zahradnik performing Breathless.
Amy Llanes and Jamie Zahradnik performing Breathless.
Photo by Lynn Lane

At the age of ten, Amy Llanes began training in jazz and tap. Her early years in the dance studio developed into a six-year competitive clogging career. Fun fact about the artistic director of one of Houston's newest dance companies: She's a two-time national clogging champion. It wasn't until her undergraduate years at Sam Houston State University that she discovered modern dance.

After suffering a fractured back during sophomore year, she decided to pull back from jazz and focus on modern. The shift in styles marked the beginnings of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company.

During a group improvisation exercise in college, Llanes, the group leader, began to piece the created fragments together. Her instructor then asked, "When does your show go up? It looks like it's almost finished to me." With those words of encouragement, she choreographed her first full-length concert while an undergraduate. "People began to ask, when is your next show? The company was a natural progression of people who wanted to work together and create," she explains.

So what, exactly, is Rednerrus Feil? "Rednerrus is surrender spelled backwards and feil is a word scramble for life. As a choreographer, that is exactly what I try to do. My intention is to be completely open, vulnerable and surrendering of my innermost self for the creative process. Most of the works I create stem from a moment, idea or image from my own personal life or the persons immediately surrounding me."

Llanes's work is a physical melee of powerful body language, which is seen in her preference for movers over technicians. "I try to blur the line between gesture and what people consider dance moves," she explains. Her work is also very much influenced by the creative process itself, as each work develops from a different method of working than the previous one. Moving forward, Rednerrus Feil seeks to assist Houston's dance community and extend its presence within it. "We want to be able to share our art and engage with our audience to extend that relationship." And to properly introduce the company, there is a possibility that Llanes may make a return to the stage. "I haven't performed with the company since maybe 2007, but it could happen in the next year."

Rednerrus Feil dancers in Static Motion.
Rednerrus Feil dancers in Static Motion.
Photo by Jennifer Salter

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What she does: As a choreographer, Llanes aims to create work that is emotionally relevant to her audience. "I draw from my personal life and the people around me to create dance," she says. "This allows the work to be universal."

Why she likes it: Llanes's passion for dance stems from the form's self-explorative possibilities. "I'm an intuitive feeler," she explains. "I've been on a search to find who I am and what that means as far as my role in society and in the world. Dance allows me to do that. With each process, I'm investigating something personal, and with each exploration I discover something new about myself."

What inspires her: In a word: "humans." She's also interested in the relationships between humans and the actions and reactions that make up ordinary lives. "I'm interested in why we do or do not do things in life and why we react or choose not to react. The life form is the greatest work of art, and it's ever changing and ever evolving. I'm intrigued by how that change happens."

If not this, then what: While Llanes enjoys all things art and has tried her hand at many hobbies and forms of occupation, including cooking, costume design, retail, administration and business education, nothing quite captures her imagination like dance. "I have yet to find a reality outside of where I am now," she explains. Her husband says there is a three-month rule attached to interests other than her dance work. "After three months I get bored, and after six months I'm out."

If not here, then where: "I hate to be cold, so the north is out," she says. "One of the most inspiring places I've ever been is Italy. There's something fascinating about the culture and the way of life. It's a complete contradiction to the way I live. The people are laid-back, go with the flow and address the human body differently. And the relationship between genders is different. As a community I'd love to explore that way of love and the relationships that it builds."

What's next: Rednerrus Feil Dance Company is currently teamed up with jhon r. stronks's "there...in the sunlight" to present the Venturing Out series, a season of informal performances featuring work from Houston area choreographers and dance artists. Llanes's work will be featured in the final two concerts of the series, April 7 and May 19. Rednerrus Feil will then head back to the studio for a Hope Stone residency, which Llanes predicts will be a risky project that will push her outside of her comfort zone. "It's a work that focuses on a feminist approach to equality that I foresee to be extremely physical. It definitely goes against my personality because I tend not to be confrontational, and I address the subject so directly that the audience may not be able to sit still in their seats. I'm also working on a solo that addresses the self and what one may or may not do to oneself." Deep stuff from one of the city's newest troupes, but Amy Llanes, you have our attention.

Rednerrus Feil Dance Company performs in the Venturing Out series on April 7 and May 19. For more information, visit www.yaydance.org.

More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page). Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer Danielle Burns, art curator Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker Amanda Stevens, scary book author Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger Ana María Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach Billy D. Washington, comedian Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer Kelly Sears, animator and film maker Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer

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