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Dance artist Mina Estrada hopes to push the boundaries of dance in Wichita

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Torin Andersen

Dance artist Mina Estrada wants to push the boundaries of dance in Wichita. And as managing director of Harvester Arts, she also wants to help artists find stable employment and get a paycheck while pursuing their passion. Estrada talked with Torin Andersen about her love of experimental dance, and some upcoming events designed to showcase art through movement.

I'm a dance artist. I grew up in Central Texas. I got my undergrad degree at Texas State University in Dance. I got my master's degree at Temple University in Dance. I've devoted myself to dance, but also I've devoted myself to arts administration. I started doing it at one of the universities I was teaching at, Drexel University, in Philadelphia. I was teaching dance, doing choreography, and then, the head of the program asked me if I wanted to become the concert producer, which involves organizing all schedules, all the studio spaces, hiring the graphic designers, the costume makers, doing all the ticketing, like it's a full blown admin job. I did it and was amazing. I didn't realize I had that, like, that serious skillset. I don't know that any artist thinks that they have that skillset until they are challenged.

Here at Harvester Arts, I'm the managing director. I've been doing this for almost a year now. I'm doing the programming here, managing the space, working with artists. And it just happened to be, it was a serendipitous moment where I wanted to be more and they needed somebody to be more.

Courtesy of Mina Estrada

Starting in December, we are gonna be celebrating as many of the artists as possible who have been doing Artist Inc with us. I think this is the fourth one that we had just finished this year in May. And it's a cohort of about 25 artists in the community of all disciplines who come in for eight weeks to learn more about the business side of being an artist. So in the gallery we're gonna have work, floor to ceiling, salon style in the gallery. So the opening reception for the gallery will be December 3rd, six to eight. And then we'll also have performances at seven o'clock on December 4th, which is Sunday for all the performing artists that wanna join us. And then again, there might be some on Saturday the 10th. 

I'm trying to convince all my dance friends to come to Wichita because even though it's a small community, it is robust, it is filled with people who are really highly inclined to be experimental, which is my bag. I wanna be with people who are experimental, improvisational, who are trying to really find something deep and rich in the moment that they're in it. And this community is filled with it. We have legitimate professional level dancers in this community who are also highly experimental. So as a dance artist, I have been freaking thrilled. 

Even though it's not a perfect space for dance, it's still a, it's a space for dance. And so many of the community dancers have told me like they recognize that they can push themselves artistically inside of this space without any judgment, which is really just all I could ever wish for.

Torin Andersn explores the local arts scene every First Friday. You can read more at kmuw.org.

He has more than 20 years of experience shaping and documenting the arts in Wichita.