With bodies built for brilliance, these five St. Louis performers take artistic expression to unexplored heights.
The Master Of Movement
Dawn Karlovsky is one of St. Louis’ most intriguing and in-demand modern dance choreographer/instructor/performers. Karlovsky had been dancing in San Francisco when she took a job at Webster University as a visiting professor 12 years ago. From there, she transferred to her current role as a dance instructor at Washington University and consortium artist with ANNONYArts, among other roles. Her choreography carries a signature abstract style, but she’s always trying to change up her dances by pushing boundaries with movement invention and often does so in her ever-experimental collaborations with local visual artists, poets, actors, dancers and musicians. Most recently she partnered with musician Tory Z Starbuck to co-create the sound score for “Closer,” a live video and on-stage performance with New York-based choreographer Megan Nicely and cellist Tracy Andreotti on one of her personal favorites, “Finding Space.”
The Unstoppable Wordsmith
Selena J — Spoken Word Artist/Radio Personality
To say Selena J has a way with words would be an understatement. When this supercharged spoken word artist gets behind the mic, she weaves her contemplations on life’s trials and tribulations into pure poetry. She performed her poetry for the first time in college and continued to cultivate her talent to what eventually led her to the airwaves as an on-air radio personality. She landed an internship position at the former R&B/Hip-Hop station 100.3 The Beat in 2001 and two months later was hired to do overnights. She has hosted and produced “Soulternative,” the first neo-soul and spoken word show in St. Louis and Majic 104.9’s “Rhythm & Life,” a show she solely dedicates her time to now.
The One-Man Wonder
Tom Brady— Performance Artist/Composer/Sculptor/Choreographer
A performance artist who constructs the sets, composes the music and choreographs the routines for all of his pieces, Tom Brady has pulled off many impressive feats in his career. Raised in a family of musicians and college educated in fine arts, Brady halted a strong run at notable NYC art fixtures in the 1970s to focus on his family. Years later, he returned to perform at COCA and then opened his own studio, Satori (meaning enlightenment), and went on to produce elaborate performances like “3Row Poles to Enlightenment,” a piece he first performed in Milan in which he balances and contorts himself upon three rows of six poles. He most recently orchestrated “Prodigal,” a 90-minute performance in Forest Park featuring three stages and 21 performers.
The Big Talent Under The Big Top
Sasha Alexandre Nevidonski — Equestrian-Aerial-Ballet Artist
Of all the wonders a circus brings, Sasha Alexandre Nevidonski is truly one of them. His aerial-silk equestrian act—a graceful blend of strength and artistic beauty suspended from silk, and at times, atop a horse—gives audiences a true original work. A career that started at age 5 with gymnastics in his homeland of Kazakhstan, Sasha perfected his craft with the Moscow Circus School at 15, and had his circus debut in South Africa at 21. The Big Apple Circus brought him to America in 1997, and after adding an equestrian addition to his act, he joined Circus Flora in St. Louis in 2005 and is now a crowd-drawing mainstay under the big top.
The Hottest Act In Town
Laura Speichinger (aka Sturdy Gurlesque) — Fire Performer/Burlesque Dancer
Five years ago, this former school teacher left the classroom to try out a totally different line of work: setting herself on fire. A group of fire performers at the City Museum first sparked her fascination with the flame, and soon after she traveled to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada where her studies intensified and she landed her first big fire-spinning gig at the Saint Louis Zoo. She’s gone on to choreograph and perform captivating bits, including her now-signature move—fire eating—and has since turned up the heat at places like Atomic Cowboy, combining burlesque dancing with fire for a variety show that doesn’t look like it will be dying out any time soon.
Art Direction By David Hsia
Art Assistance By Victoria Millner
Makeup On Sturdy Gurlesque Provided By Nettie Kelley, Nettiekelleymakeupartist.com
Photographed at Satori Studio in Midtown. Special Thanks to Tom Brady for lending his beautiful space to this photo shoot.
Sasha Alexandre Nevidonsky
Sasha Alexandre Nevidonsky
Laura Speichinger (aka Sturdy Gurlesque)
Photo credit: Photos by Wesley Law