15 Anniversary Artist Interviews: Kelly Bond

Capital Fringe has had a strong dance presence from the beginning of the festival’s history. Just ask Kelly Bond – who debuted a full-length work titled Sill at the inaugural Capital Fringe.

Bond is a performer who is based now in New Orleans. But she already had a burgeoning following when she became one of the festival’s dance pioneers in 2006. The Capital Fringe guide in that first year described Sill as “a bizarre glimpse into an enigmatic and charming world fill of unpredictability and delight,” in which “dancers interact with distinctive visual elements that question the perspective of reality.”

Bond recalls that “Sill was an idea for a work that I had in mind already, and then sort of applied to presented it at Fringe – right at the beginning of my thinking about it. With the hope of premiering at it Fringe.”

She adds that there was an element of recruitment as well. “I had a conversation with (Capital Fringe co-founder and then-executive director) Damian Sinclair…. I remember him reaching out and saying: We are starting this festival and I’d love to talk to you about it. So we met and had drinks and he just talking about what they had planned in what they were hoping for the festival to be income. And yeah, I definitely felt pulled to be a part of that.”

Bond says that the Fringe model proved amenable to her own experience. “The ‘quick up, quick out’ element was the part that I was accustomed to,” she remembers. “I was still so young and early in my career at the time. I had really just presented work as part of showcases, and in those, you always just have such a short amount of time.”

Presenting Sill on the main stage at Woolly Mammoth made Bond “super excited.” But it also provided her with what she calls a “unique and growing experience.” Not only was it her first evening-length work, but “it was the first time that I was in a venue where I was the person in charge, and not leaning on the person who was organizing a showcase.”

While Bond says the run at 2006 Capital Fringe “was a chance to learn a lot on the producing side of things,” she also recalls that the support for artists that has been a hallmark of the festival was there at the beginning.

“There were some challenges, for sure,” she says. “But, overall, I felt like I learned and I was I also supported. I felt like The Fringe was there for me.”

In particular, Bond says that Fringe was devoted to getting people to give the new festival a try.

“I think [Capital Fringe] did a good job promoting the festival in its first year,” she says, “and trying to get people there. One of the great things about Fringe is that people come and see work that they would not see otherwise… I felt really happy – and really proud of the work in the end.”

Bond returned to Capital Fringe twice more over the festival’s history, with Elephant in 2010 and Colony in 2012. She also participated in a Fall Fringe at the invitation of Founding Director, Julianne Brienza.

“I still I still consider myself to be a Fringe person, whatever that might be,” says Bond. “It’s a scrappy, but also beautiful, community experience. And I have opened myself to experiencing that in other places.

“I still occasionally reach out to Julianne, and say, ‘This is what I’m doing.’ It’s just a relationship that has continued over time that I really value.”

– Richard Byrne