Keely Cobb

Around the Stage is a new modern dance company based in Reno. The company’s show Synopsis of This is presented August 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m., and August 19 at 2 p.m. at Reno Little Theater, 147 East Pueblo St. Tickets are $10-$15. Keely Cobb is Around the Stage’s artistic director.

Tell me about the new company. Where did the name come from?

Around the Stage is similar to “outside of the box.” It’s called Around the Stage because we think about everything that’s happening all around us. We’re taking everything that’s happening in society, and what’s happening in our personal lives, and putting it on the stage. Everything that happens around the stage we’re putting on the stage.

Sometimes modern dance isn’t about narrative, but pure movement. But it sounds like your focus is on storytelling.

Yes, totally. All of my shows have used text—whether it’s the dancer talking on stage and moving through the text, while speaking, or having a voiceover that they’ve recoded in the studio of them telling a story or responding to some questions, or a text from a book or wherever. Using text is something I’ve found is really prominent in dance right now, something that’s really happening. Right now, we’re doing Poetry Movement through Artown, and we’re using local Nevadan published poets’ poetry. The dancers and choreographers selected a poem, and they use it to inspire the dance that they’re creating. … Synopsis of This, the show that we’re doing right now, I’m having dancers write their own things. We have a script. … We blend theater with dance. … Why not have the dancers stand there and read this text and see what movement comes out? That’s the choreography. That’s the dance right there. Let’s just make it bigger.

Synopsis of This is partly about dependence and independence. Tell me more about that.

We’re exploring the struggle to become independent. All of us are graduates from the University of Nevada, Reno, and all of us are right now trying to get into our career field, and we’re trying to get the job that we want. Eve Allen just got married. Some of us just got out of a relationship, and we’re trying to figure out who we are as an independent person, and some of us are struggling to pay our bills. All of the things that we are relying on to be an adult, and mark ourselves as yes, I’m an independent person because of this. Because I pay my own phone bill—my parents don’t do it anymore. Because I live on my own and don’t have a roommate anymore. These are all things that every single person has dealt with.

You said you were a recent UNR graduate. How recent?

I graduated in 2016. … I graduated with a major in theater and a minor in dance. I originally just wanted to be an actor, but dance has become my thing. After I graduated, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I self-produced my first show, The Showbiz Cabaret, at the Potentialist Workshop. After that, I got hired by the university to assistant choreograph their musical, The Music Man. After that, I got hired on by a few companies in Reno to dance and by Karen Burns Productions to be a showgirl. And then I self-produced my second show, Relations, and that’s when I started thinking about the company. And then I started working with Sierra Arts Foundation as an arts integration specialist, and that’s when it hit—this is it. I’m in the arts community. I’m a dancer. I’m a choreographer. Let’s make a company.