UpByFive Interview: Cailin Manning

I met Cailin Manning two years ago, and I swear she was dancing the moment I met her. Cailin is a passionate and kind individual who willingly shares her art with the world every day. She is talented, creative, and a pleasure to watch. In this interview, she gives us a look into her creative world and the drive that keeps her moving.

Interview as told to and edited by Maggie Tarasovitch.

1. Tell us about your work and what you specialize in.

I am a Dancer, Choreographer, Videographer, & Director based out of Nashville, Tennessee. I train in and teach mostly modern/contemporary style dance, yet I grew up training in tap, jazz, hip hop, musical theater, modern. I believe that the exposure to the different types of performance & movement, has shaped my movement into what it is.

Watch this 60-second clip of Manning’s Choreography Reel.

While attending Ohio State University, I fell in love with choreography. Finding the risk in choreographing – whether that’s choreographing without music or choreographing to one piece of music and resetting it to ambient sound scores or choreographing in a field by a lake for a site-specific work, etc. – has made my work more holistic and has opened up new ways to creating for me.

2. What is it about your art that makes you so passionate?
Dance has simply always been a constant in my life. There’s not a moment in the day where I don’t dance, whether it’s an 8-hour rehearsal on Sundays or grabbing groceries and tapping my feet in the aisle along with Publix’s killer Spotify playlist. It’s always been the thing that makes me feel powerful and whole.

I believe that dance, and art in general, has a lot of power both for the performer, creator, and viewer. I found my passion as a performer a long time ago, and recently I have been diving into my passion for the creation of the art – especially what I can say with it that can make people think. 

3. What is a project that you are extremely proud of? What is it about your art that you find sets you apart from others?
From Four to Two is a ten-minute-long piece choreographed based on anthropological research into our physical and somatic evolution from animal to human and how that effects our innate movement senses. This piece was presented at and won the BellaMoxi Choreographic Festival in Chicago in 2016.

Watch Manning’s full “From Four to Two” piece above.

I think that the fact that it was a longer piece and more extensive piece of work stands out because, nowadays, things are thrown together so quickly and we don’t take the time to invest into what we are creating. I loved working on this for a full year and diving extensively into the research, both in and out of the studio.


4. What skills do you use to continue to promote your art?
I’ve become very keen on social media usage and how you can use it to promote yourself or a business- there are online seminars and podcasts and articles that touch on a lot of SEO tricks and how to build an online presence.
The whole Adobe Packet is a must for self-starters. I taught myself how to use Premiere Pro for video editing because it’s next-level for any of the capabilities I need. Adobe Photoshop and Light Room are easily learnable through YouTube tutorials and great for creating simple logos or graphic design and personal branding.

5. In terms of client acquisition, what has been your approach?
I’ll get asked to set a piece or video a dance for someone just by word of mouth and knowing people- it really is all about who you know and whether or not they respect your work.

     So, my approach has just been to keep making good & honest work.

6. What obstacles have you encountered so far?
My biggest setback came when I had knee surgery. Even before the surgery the doctor didn’t know if I would be able to dance without pain, but said he was sure that if I continued to dance after surgery, I would deteriorate the cartilage more and would eventually have to get a knee replacement. Those months and years were rough as I was relearning and retraining my body and figuring out how I could continue to dance and make this work while trying to avoid knee replacement surgery.There were a lot of doubts about whether or not I could actually do this or if any of this is even worth it or if I should just get a “normal person career,” but I just couldn’t imagine doing anything else.I guess if I had to give it a name: perseverance is how I faced that, and I’m still facing it.

     What motivates me to keep pushing is that despite knee surgery, despite my aging body getting creeky, and despite any cons that come with the dance world, there is no other feeling that compares to moving your body with or without care.

7. What advice would you give someone who is anxious to start on their own like you did?
I just try to make money doing and making things that have value and give me purpose. Working as a dancer, artist, choreographer- any of it- is definitely not your normal nine-to-five. It’s unpredictable and, with that, you just have to trust in what you are doing.

     If you feel in your gut that there is nothing else you would rather do in life … than you just  have to go for it.

8. And, of course we have to ask. Are you UpByFive?
I’m actually a night owl – most of the good choreography and class planning comes from those late nights, so I can’t say I’m UpByFive, but normally 6:30ish!

Find Manning on Instagram @cailinleighchoreography and at Cailinleigh.com

Questions? Contact Maggie@UpByFive.com

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