Louisa Koeppel didn't realize what was in store when she attended Project: Motion's first dance concert at the original downtown version of TheatreWorks, which was located on South Main in the current home of the Village Art Gallery. She was a 14-year-old "bunhead" studying ballet.
"My ballet teacher wanted us [her students] to see modern dance, so she took us," Koeppel says, reflecting on the unexpected, undeniably life-altering moment. "I remember sitting in the audience thinking, 'Oh my God, dance can be this way too?'
"I was so wrapped up in ballet — much to the chagrin of my mother who had been a modern dancer," Koeppel says. "Then this changed everything for me. Two years later, while I was still in high school, I started dancing with them."
This summer, Memphis' enduring modern-dance company Project: Motion turns 30, and the dancers and their fans are celebrating with STIR! A 30th Birthday Celebration, which is both a party and performance at the Jay Etkin Gallery, featuring new works and new faces in addition to original company members and remounts of popular favorites.
"The goal is to make it a fun cocktail party atmosphere, then throughout the night dances pop out," says Koeppel who's dancing in a new work by Playhouse on the Square choreographer Courtney Oliver and recreating "Spoons," a whimsical piece about losing a spoon in the garbage disposal. Other choreographers include Emily Hefley and Wayne Smith.
"Stir! A 30th Birthday Celebration for Project: Motion" at Jay Etkin Gallery. July 8th-9th, 7 p.m. $12. Projectmotiondance.com