Brenna Mosser / by Altered Esthetics

Brenna Mosser is a local emerging dance artist. She trained and earned degrees at the Perpich Center for Arts Education, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, UK, and at le Centre National de la Danse Contemporaine in Angers, France. After completing her education, Brenna spent two years in the Conservation Corps, an Americorps program focused on environmental restoration projects in Southeast Minnesota. As well as creating her own dance works, Brenna currently dances for ARENA Dances, Alternative Motion Project, Threads Dance Project, Bernadette Knaeble and Jennifer Glaws. She teaches Jazz and Modern at the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts in Winona, MN. In her free time Brenna enjoys reading, rock climbing, and going to Rochester to restore a prairie on her parents' property.

Belly , 2015. Photo by Alain Papillon.

Belly, 2015. Photo by Alain Papillon.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on?

I have two branches of my work: that as a dancer and that as a choreographer. I am a very physical dancer. I am inspired by sports - spontaneity and strength as well as fluidity of motion to complete a task. I like to move fast and I love to find creative ways to fall. I am also very interested in circus arts, so you will often find me working on my handstands to warm up. I get to share my wild energy with numerous choreographers in town from ARENA Dances to independent choreographers such as Bernadette Knaeble and Jennifer Glaws.

As a choreographer, I draw inspiration from the environment and from science fiction. I spent two years in the Conservation Corps, which allowed me to practice a different kind of physicality (chainsawing, moving logs, hiking bluffs etc.) as well as learn about the ecology and geology of Southeast Minnesota. My current work, Regeneration, deals with the manipulation and destruction of our landscape. At the same time, it explores possibilities of how humans can exist harmoniously within their environment.

On the Rocks , 2016. Photo by Kim Haroldson.

On the Rocks, 2016. Photo by Kim Haroldson.

How did you decide to become a dancer?

I have been dancing ever since I was a little baby bouncing to country music on the radio. I tried not dancing for a time and did not enjoy how expressionless and meaningless I felt. It has been permanently a part of my life ever since.

Describe your choreographic process.

My choreographic process usually begins with a vision of an image that I want to produce. From there I build a story to that image, which may or may not be obvious in the final piece. For example, in my current work, Regeneration, the original image was that of a woman buried waist-deep in the ground high on a mountain and reaching as far as she could into a valley. The story I put with this image was of a creature millions of years in the future that had evolved from humans on a different planet. It had been stranded there after an early space exploration mission had crash-landed on this unknown world. The piece as it currently stands does not in any way tell this story, but rather the abstraction of the work allows the viewer to interpret it on their own.

After playing with the image and story line, I like to create a movement vocabulary suitable for the work. I consider the range of movement qualities, use of space, and energy patterns to define a recurring move or spatial design. For Regeneration, I was working with a huge dress made out of burlap. The movement quality became very heavy, because of the weight of the burlap, and aggressive, because of the amount of material that the dancer had to deal with. The dance became about finding those moments of stillness and serenity to have relief from the heavy and aggressive movement quality.

Regeneration , 2018. Photo by Kim Haroldson.

Regeneration, 2018. Photo by Kim Haroldson.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

Art is not a finished product, it is a process. I find this especially true for dance in the Twin Cities when I see choreographers revisit work they have created and allow the piece to change and develop. This has given me faith and validity in my own work to present it as it stands - to allow it to be imperfect so that I can continue to investigate it in the future.

Is there any medium you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t yet?

I have always wanted to create a work based on the lighting. It is very difficult to be able to rehearse in a space with lighting capability due to finances or lack of resources, so oftentimes lighting gets added during technical rehearsals the day before or the day of presenting a work. If I ever get the chance it would be a dream come true!

The artist dancing in  Threshold , 2010, by Mathew Janczewski, ARENA Dances.  Performance on 11/10/2018 at the Fitzgerald Theater. Photo by Dan Norman.

The artist dancing in Threshold, 2010, by Mathew Janczewski, ARENA Dances.

Performance on 11/10/2018 at the Fitzgerald Theater. Photo by Dan Norman.

Who are some of the Twin Cities artists you enjoy?

I am a huge fan of the people I dance for! Beyond that I love the work done by Black Label Movement ( and Shapiro and Smith Dance Company ( because of their raw physicality.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

In the near future, you can expect to see me at the Lab theater the first weekend of March, the week after in Kalamazoo, MI with Jennifer Glaws at the Midwest Alternative Dance Festival, and in April with Threads Dance Project. I will also be producing a new work that will be shown at ARENA Dances' CandyBox Festival early May 2019!

Image of artist by Armour Photography, 2018

Image of artist by Armour Photography, 2018

For more of Brenna’s work, check out

Follow Brenna on Facebook at Brenna Mosser Dance Works.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Interview written by Sophie Buchmueller, edited by Sarah Kass.