Kate Hadfield and Cara Terry began their partnership in dance 21 years ago at the Beverly Rogers Academy of Dance in Paducah, when they were just 6 years old.
They continued to train and compete alongside each other through middle school and high school before joining the University of Kentucky Dance Ensemble in college.
In 2011, the lifelong dance companions founded their own contemporary dance company, Movement Continuum, with three other dancers on a shoestring budget. Hadfield is artistic director and Terry is assistant artistic director.
With some seed money from a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, Movement Continuum was able to mount its first show, Flaming Youth, which enjoyed a sold-out run. The following November, the troupe mounted an ambitious production, Smoke and Mirrors, with a complex circus-themed narrative, intricate costuming and heavily theatrical lighting and scenic designs.
"We've had five total performances and we've sold out four of those," Hadfield says of the burgeoning dance company, which has focused on producing one large-scale performance each fall.
Now in its third season, the company is ready to add an annual spring show to its programming, which will debut this weekend at the Downtown Arts Center in a production called Finding Home.
Hadfield describes Finding Home as a stripped-down, minimalist version of Movement Continuum, the opposite of the glitzy spectacles they mount each fall.
"Our November shows are very extravagant," Hadfield says. "I write a story line; everyone is assigned specific characters. There's a lot that goes into them, not just the choreography but the props, costumes and lighting."
"For instance, Smoke and Mirrors was a circus," Hadfield says. "We had a ringmaster, a bearded lady, Siamese twins and an epic battle between good and evil."
In Finding Home, Hadfield and her fellow dancers eschew all theatrical embellishment and get down to the heart of the matter: raw, honest dancing.
"It is just dancers, a floor and that's it. No pretense, no narrative." Hadfield says. "There is minimal costuming, minimal makeup, minimal lighting. I call it the acoustic version of Movement Continuum."
"It is very refreshing to scale down," she says. "It's refreshing to think, OK, I'm a dancer and I'm dancing and I'm not thinking about how I'm a ringmistress in charge of this entire circus and how I have this crazy story line. All I am thinking about is my own personal path in history and how that connects to the movement."
The theme of finding home is loosely based on various emotional interpretations of love.
"We wanted to do something that was very honest and very raw, something that everyone can connect to, and that inevitably was love," Hadfield says. "We thought it would be really nice for the springtime and new beginnings and beautiful weather to have a message of hope and connection and relationship and how important those are to us as a company, because we really feel like we are a family."
"We start rehearsals at 1 and will leave studio at 11 or 11:30," she says of the work that goes into each show.
"We wanted a show that would show the emotional connection between us as a company of dancers and all of the things that we've been through together as a group and as women and best friends," says Hadfield, who with Terry is a co-director of choreography.
Hadfield and Terry have won multiple awards for their choreography. Most recently, the pair racked up three choreography awards at the Talent on Parade regional dance competition in Nashville.
Finding Home features an expanded company of 10 dancers, some new to the troupe after auditions earlier in the year.
Hadfield says the dancers hope to authentically convey the complex array of emotions associated with love and that the musical selections vary wildly, from Janis Joplin to Damien Rice, to reflect this.
Hadfield says Movement Continuum's growing audience will appreciate the intimacy and honesty of Finding Home.
"The people who consistently come and see our performances, they're going to be able to get an honest sense of who we are as people," Hadfield says. "These are our personalities, this is what we look like, this is how we feel.
"I've been trying very diligently to tell all the dancers to look at how we look in rehearsal, how we look as people, as women doing something we are passionate about, not just as entertainers."
IF YOU GO
What: Movement Continuum dance company's first springtime show
When: 7:30 p.m. May 10-11
Where: Downtown Arts Center, 141 E. Main St.
Tickets: $13. Call (859) 225-0370 or go to Lexarts.tix.com. Pay-what-you-can pricing available one hour before show time.
Learn more: Kentuckymovement.com