Alum Highlight – Alex Martin, Dance ‘96
We’re honored to highlight our alum Alex Martin, Owner of Synchronicity Events. Alex graduated from Cornish in 1996 and has helped shape the Seattle arts community ever since! Read on to learn more about Alex, her passions, and her events business.
The following is an interview with Alex Martin, Dance 1996 (she/her). Owner Synchronicity Events
Describe growing up and your childhood.
My parents went back to the land in the mid-70s, and I spent my baby years on their remote property in the highlands above Tonasket, Washington … and then the bulk of my childhood and teen years in Okanogan, Washington. It’s a small town with an interesting and diverse mashup of hippies, ranchers, orchardists, native folks (the Colville reservation is just across the river), and Latinx families who originally arrived to work in agriculture but are now a huge part of the community. I spent a lot of time at the swimming pool, at the local dance studio (ballet, tap and jazz!) then later in the art room at high school, in rehearsal with the community musical theater productions and the community orchestra (I played violin) and browsing for long afternoons at the thrift store. In high school I was the art geek, the music nerd, the dance diva all rolled into one!
Tell us about why you decided to pursue art and why Cornish?
On a trip to Seattle when I was 14, my family was driving through Capitol Hill and we passed the original Cornish building on Roy Street … and my parents said “Oh, honey, look there’s Cornish. It’s a college where they teach art!” I was floored, because I had no idea going to college to study art was even an option. In my mind I was like “OK … IT’S FINAL. THAT’S THE COLLEGE FOR ME”. I never wavered. Many tense discussions with my folks later, I prevailed and enrolled in the Dance department in 1993. I thought it was heaven.
What was your most important takeaway from Cornish?
My fellow students and I worked so hard and through pure force of will and the coaching of our professors, we reinvented our bodies, we re-programmed our nervous systems with whole new patterns of moving, we built new sensitivities to balance, touch, rhythm, new methods for invention and composition. But the thing that sticks with me the most is the incredible skills I gained in collaboration and facilitation. I feel confident I can walk into any room and meet new people, and if we all want something to happen, we can definitely make something happen TOGETHER! That carries across all the things I’ve done, not only artistic endeavors.
What is your current career and how did your art lead you there?
For about a decade after graduating I was actively performing, choreographing, and producing dance. I was co-director of BetterBiscuitDance and one of the co-founders of Open Flight Studio in Seattle. And during that time, to cover expenses I made some money as a costume designer, and I also started a side-hustle taking contract work to help nonprofits with their benefit auctions and events. Events have been my main money-making gig for about 20 years now! I launched a new business, Synchronicity Events, 3 years ago with a strong vision to help local non-profit orgs hold their Best Event Ever. Currently, I have 8 employees and we’re producing roughly 75 events each year (most of our events have been virtual and via livestream since March 2020, of course).
When I’m envisioning an event, I feel a super-strong connection to my training in choreography I’m in charge of planning how people will move through a space and through a defined block of time. What’s the rhythm, what’s the composition, what do we encounter first and second and third, what’s the narrative, what are we learning as we go, what do we want to occur? So I think I take quite a different angle on experience design than event planners who come from a visual-design background. My events are built in all dimensions, and in time, and with an emotional arc.
Tell us your vision for the future of our arts world.
This has been such a brutal time for performing artists and audiences! I am watching closely to see how our local arts presenters are tip-toeing in to the fall 2021 season and navigating public safety while trying to fill their auditoriums, and it makes me eager to see how site-specific work and less “traditional” ways to deliver the work to audiences may rise to more prominence. I put the quotes around “traditional” because let’s get real, people always danced outdoors and danced everywhere and danced WITH each other, and they always will … dancing indoors on stages (for an audience sitting still) only dates to the French court of Louis XIV, and who really needs that anymore?
Our world is in a massive shift due to climate destabilization, and as our global societies live through the coming decades, I know artists can make work that provides a balm and a point of reflection and renewal. I also think artists can provide road maps to help people build new identities, courage, resilience. I hope artists can forge even more powerful visions, and more innovative ways to bring the work to audiences, and more thoughtful partnerships, and more flexible communities who are not banking on any type of “normal” to succeed. I think that artists who are more enthralled with facilitating a collective expression and empowering a community (rather than making an individual statement) may rise in the future. We shall see!
What else would you like us to know?
My employees like to rib me for having “A Degree In Dance” … and I love it! I’ve been consistently grateful for the education I received at Cornish. I believe there’s more insight, more ability to analyze and strategize, more sensitivity, more business skills, and more people skills packed into my education than if I had spent my college years doing anything else.\
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