We had the good fortune of connecting with Mallory Baxley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mallory, how do you think about risk?
Taking risks is one of the most freeing things that an artist can do. When you decide that failing won’t make or break you, you can indulge in being fearless. For many years, I desired to make work that I thought people would like. I wanted to make work that emulated the work of the artists I admired. I tried to follow a specific formula each time I started a new work because I didn’t allow myself to think beyond the resources at my disposal, whether that be time, number of dancers, space, money, etc. Fear held me back. I made the same work over and over and over. After 10 years, I set out to complete a project that I had been dreaming of since I started working professionally in the industry. The project took over a year to conceptualize, design, visualize, strategize and complete. I asked for help, I considered options that I had never fathomed before, and I worked with artists and people that I trusted. Instead of following my old formula, I let go of the old perception of what I thought my work needed to be or look like. After years of making dance work after dance work and churning out final products, I learned that this work had been a work in progress over the course of my entire professional career. I had finally allowed myself to take risks that had been haunting me all along, and the result was a personal victory and the my proudest work yet.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a Choreographer, and currently the Artistic Director non-profit dance organization, Zoetic Dance Ensemble in Atlanta, GA. I was trained by original Zoetic dancer, Ellen Tshudy, and began working with Zoetic professionally in 2010 the semester before I graduated from the University of Georgia with my BFA in Dance. It had been a dream of mine to work with Zoetic, so when I took over as Director in 2015, I was far exceeding the goals I had for myself with in the company. I was drawn to Zoetic for their mission of celebrating the feminine spirit. I was inspired by their movement aesthetic and female-centered approach. I had never been around such strong, empowered women. They empowered me to be myself, to move with freedom and to explore creatively with fearlessness. I continue to overcome challenges as Director. The lessons I have learned have been ones that have allowed me to step into my potential as a leader, and to fully bring the vision I have for Zoetic to life. I am inspired to continue the legacy of Zoetic through my unique style and vision and continue to champion women through movement and dance. My brand supports and uplifts the individuality of women and their journeys, celebrating the stories of each.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Atlanta has been my home all my life! In a non-COVID world, here are my recommendations: Catch a show at the Fox Theatre. Make a day out of walking and exploring the Beltline and shopping at Ponce City Market. Catch a late night drag show at Mary’s in East Atlanta. Explore the shops at Little Five Points and grab a burger at the Vortex. Also be sure to stop into Junkman’s Daughter for some unique finds. Downtown Decatur is one of my favorite areas to grab a meal at Brickstore Pub or Leon’s. And no visit to Atlanta would be complete without grabbing a burger from the Varsity.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to the women of Zoetic Dance Ensemble, Melanie Lynch-Blanchard (founder), Amanda Jaquez, Ellen Tshudy, ChristinaNoel Reaves and Joanna Futral. These women have shaped me as an artist and as a woman. Zoetic was founded in 2001 and these women are the origin of the company. I have been lucky enough to have been brought into their sisterhood and mentored by each throughout my life since I was a teenager. They continue to be inspirations to me as I aim to carry out their legacy through my work in Zoetic. Additionally, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my parents, Paula and Henry, who have been involved in my journey with Zoetic since the beginning. It has been a privilege to be supported in my dreams, and I have them to thank for being behind every step of the way.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zoeticdance/; https://www.instagram.com/m_baxley/
Daley Kappenman (Daylilies Photography); Christina J Massad