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G FORCE | KELLEY DONOVAN

Challenging moves

LARRY OSGOOD Kelley Donovan runs her own dance company from Boston - and New York. LARRY OSGOOD Kelley Donovan runs her own dance company from Boston - and New York. (LARRY OSGOOD)
By Megan Tench
Globe Staff / March 13, 2009
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In 2006 dancer Kelley Donovan sold her Malden condo to live, eat, and sleep in various sublets from Boston to New York. When she needs quick cash she sells her furniture - she has no use for it anyway.

Donovan is living her dream, choreographing and staging new works in New York for her own company Kelley Donovan & Dancers.

Keeping a company going for more than 10 years is challenging enough. Relocating was a bigger risk for the 42-year old, who doesn't have the svelte look of other dancers.

But this distinctiveness quickly drew notice from The New York Times. "Larger-bodied than most professional dancers," a Times critic wrote this year, "she turned that into a sculptural asset through her gorgeously fluid, strongly rooted movement. . . . Ms. Donovan felt like a force of nature."

"Borrowed Bones," the piece she did in New York, comes to Cambridge's Dance Complex this weekend.

"I feel satisfied with giving up the sense of security to do what I wanted to do," Donovan says by telephone from New York. "And I feel really good about being here and being immersed in the dance environment."

For years, Donovan had been teaching modern dance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at UMass-Boston. Wanting to commit to her own company and produce her own works, she realized she couldn't do it all.

"I decided I would come to New York and make a piece," she says. "I kept my fingers crossed. My experience has been when I take risks things seem to fall into place, the forces of the universe line up. It's worked out great."

Yet it means a two-city existence. With dancers both in Boston and New York, Donovan keeps a busy rehearsal schedule, with little time to think of other things like marriage and children. "It's just not for me," she says.

"Borrowed Bones" begins with Donovan on stage alone, making a series of strong and compelling movements. She slides across the floor, jumps and crashes on the ground before she cedes the rest of stage to her dancers.

Donovan says she doesn't care much for reviews that refer to her body size, but says she's growing accustomed to it.

"The first time that happened, I kind of felt it had nothing to do with the work and I kind of resented it a bit," she says. "I am the way I am and it's obvious I can still dance. I think it says more about the audience's expectations about what they think dancers should look like. Who came up with the idea that we are all supposed to look the same way?"

MEGAN TENCH

KELLEY DONOVAN & DANCERS Present "Borrowed Bones" at the Julie Ince Thompson Theatre,

The Dance Complex, March 13-15.

Tickets $20. 781-420-3893,

www.geocities.com/kdonovan02139

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