Alex Ketley

Alex Ketley is an independent choreographer and the director of The Foundry. Formerly a classical dancer with the San Francisco Ballet (1994-1998), he performed a wide range of classical and contemporary repertory including the work of William Forsythe, James Kudelka, and George Balanchine in San Francisco and on tour throughout the world.

In 1998 he left the San Francisco Ballet to co-found The Foundry in order to explore his deepening interests in choreography, improvisation, mixed media work, and the collaborative process. With The Foundry he has been an artist-in-residence at many leading art institutions including Headlands Center for the Arts (2001 and 2007), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (2002), The Yard (2003), the Santa Fe Art Institute (2004 and 2006), the Taipei Artist Village (2005), ODC Theater (2006), the Ucross Foundation (2007), and the Vermont Performance Lab (2014). The Foundry has produced fifteen full evening length works that have received extensive support from the public, funders, and the press, as well as a number of single-channel video pieces that have screened at international video festivals. ??

As a choreographer independent of his work with The Foundry, Alex Ketley has been commissioned to create original pieces for companies and universities throughout the United States and Europe. For this work he has received acknowledgement from the Hubbard Street National Choreographic Competition (2001), the International Choreographic Competition of the Festival des Arts de Saint-Saveaur (2004), the National Choo-San Goh Award (2005), the inaugural Princess Grace Award for Choreography (2005), the BNC National Choreographic Competition (2008), three CHIME Fellowships (2007, 2008, and 2012), two Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography Residencies (2007 and 2009), the Gerbode-Hewlett Choreographer Commissioning Award (2009), and the National Eben Demarest Award (2012). His pieces and collaborations have also been awarded Isadora Duncan Awards in the categories of Outstanding Achievement by an Ensemble (2009), Outstanding Achievement in Choreography (2011), and Outstanding Achievement by a Company (2011 & 2012).

For 2011, in addition to commissions from Ballet Leipzig and the Juilliard School, his AXIS Dance Company work “To Color Me Different” was presented on national television through an invitation from the show So You Think You Can Dance. With The Foundry in 2012, he was deeply engaged in a new project entitled “No Hero” which explored what dance means and how it is experienced by people throughout more rural parts of the United States. The video projection Alex created for No Hero was nominated for a 2012 Isadora Duncan Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design.

In early 2013, he was a visiting professor and artist at Florida State University and in the fall began an appointment as a Lecturer at Stanford University’s Department of Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS) Division of Dance. He was also awarded the first Princess Grace Foundation Choreography Mentorship Co-Commission Award (CMCC), which he used to work on a collaborative project with Miguel Gutierrez in 2014 exploring rural communities throughout the Deep South.

Along with his direction of The Foundry and his various independent projects, he helped Summer Lee Rhatigan create The San Francisco Conservatory of Dance in 2004, an organization where he still serves as an advisor, teacher, and the Resident Choreographer. Stemming from a classical foundation, the school is deeply invested in advanced students learning and growing though the engagement of contemporary choreography.

Returning Choreographic Fellow | August 16-29, 2015

Deep South Fall 2015

Alex Ketley returned to MANCC to continue to develop Deep South, the third in a trilogy begun with No Hero and No Hero: Vermont. Ketley traveled throughout the rural South in summer 2014, as part of a MANCC offsite residency, to investigate what dance means to those outside the confines of the studio and concert stage. Immersing himself again in the world apart from concert dance offered similarities to the previous projects, while highlighting the unique history and culture of the South.

While in residence, Ketley met with FSU History professor Dr. Andrew Frank, to further understand and develop context for his experiences. He also worked with School of Dance students from Dr. Hannah Schwadron’s Global Perspective on Dance class. Students were able to see a run of the work and then participate in movement, writing and speaking exercises, helping them connect to  the thematic concerns of Deep South. Ketley offered a work-in-progress showing to the Tallahassee community at the end of the residency. The work is slated to premiere in Sarasota at FSU’s Ringling Museum’s Historic Asolo Theater Nov 6-7, 2015.

This residency was funded by the inaugural Princess Grace Foundation Choreography Mentorship Co-Commission Award.

  • Aline Wachsmuth
  • Sarah Woods
  • Sarah Woods works with video images of Miguel Guttierrez
  • Alex Ketley talks with his collaborators
  • Marlie Couto
  • <i>Deep South</i> rehearsal
  • Courtney Mazeika explores material while Alex Ketley observes
  • <i>Deep South</i> rehearsal
  • Ketley develops material for <i>Deep South</i>
  • <i>Deep South</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Deep South</i> rehearsal
  • Marlie Couto
  • <i>Deep South</i> rehearsal
  • Courtney Mazeika
  • <i>Deep South</i> rehearsal
  • Ketley speaks with FSU School of Dance professor Dr. Hannah Schwadron
  • FSU School of Dance students reflect on <i>Deep South</i>
  • Ketley speaks with FSU History professor Dr. Andrew Frank
  • <i>Deep South</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Deep South</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Deep South</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Deep South</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Deep South</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Deep South</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Deep South</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Deep South</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Deep South</i> work-in-progress showing
  • Ketley leads post showing discussion
Collaborators in Residence: Marlie Couto, Courtney Mazeika, Aline Wachsmuth, Sarah Woods [Dancers]

Returning Choreographic Fellow | June 9 - 28, 2014

Deep South Spring 2014

Returning MANCC Media Fellow Alex Ketley continued the work he began with No Hero, a dance project using video, music and live performance to document dance across the Pacific Northwest, including rural localities. To continue his research in examining dance outside the studio and concert stage, Ketley turned his attention to the American South. He partnered with Returning Choreographic Fellow Miguel Gutierrez and the two spent nearly a month traveling through the South, including Texas, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, exploring what dance and concert dance means and can mean to rural communities. Performers Michelle Boulé and Sara Woods joined Gutierrez and Ketley during their travels. 

As in No Hero, the project uses dance as the prism to study the beauty, confusion and economic and social stratification that shapes the diverse American landscape. The choreographers and collaborating artists will later return to MANCC to develop the new work and FSU’s Ringling Museum’s Historic Asolo Theater hosted the world premiere in 2015.

This residency was funded by the inaugural Princess Grace Foundation Choreography Mentorship Co-Commission Award.

  • Co-choreographer Miguel Gutierrez
  • Alex Ketley performs in a diner
  • Collaborator Michelle Boulé dances with area dancer
  • Collaborator Sara Woods performs in a restaurant
  • Miguel Gutierrez sings outside a barber shop
  • Gutierrez explores movement during travels in the South
  • Alex Ketley and Miguel Gutierrez
  • Alex Ketley

Collaborators: Miguel Gutierrez [co-choreographer], Michelle Boulé, Sara Woods [performers]. Slideshow photos by Alex Ketley

Media Fellowship Project | Fall 2012

No Hero

Returning Choreographic Fellow Alex Ketley continued his development of No Hero, a study on our country and all its tremendous diversity, beauty, confusion, and stratification economically and socially.

Feeling he could no longer only create dance in the hidden confines of the dance studio, Ketley and company members of The Foundry traveled extensively throughout the rural west, sharing dance with strangers and trying to find out what dance means to the lives of people in small towns throughout the county. While making work in shopping malls, mountains, hotel lobbies, small diners, abandoned buildings and rural towns, Ketley documented his encounters, recording the thoughts, observations of many along the way. In July, 2012, he presented the material at Z Space @ Theater Artaud in San Francisco. Rita Felciana wrote in the SF Bay Guardian “Hero is piece of pure Americana, a tender and amusing tribute to ordinary people and the role that dance may or may not play in their lives.”

The following fall, Ketley returned to the original sites to share his research, documentation, and performative work with those he encountered and begin mapping the next phase of the project.

This Media Fellowship Project was made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Choreographic Fellow | August 9 – 25, 2009

Theater-Irrelevant Project

Ketley explored the idea of creating a single mixed-media work that challenged the Foundry’s notions of site-specificity. He aimed to create a new piece that would be modular by design and free from the confines of a formal theater space. While in residence, he worked on distilling movement vocabulary deliberately chosen for its effectiveness in a diversity of situations, venues and cultural contexts. The two primary focuses of this residency were the development of movement in the studio, and testing the effectiveness of the work in different locations throughout the city.

Collaborators in Residence: Les Stuck [digital-media artist], Christian Burns, Andrea Flores and Claire Granier [dancers]. Slideshow photos by Kathryn Noletto Felis.

Featured Artist

Faye Driscoll

February 22 - 24
Carolina Performing
Arts, UNC Chapel Hill


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