Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival


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In this episode, recorded during the first week of NYC’s COVID quarantine, we spoke to Kyla Barkin and Aaron Selissen about their journey of building a dance company together, their latest project, Accidental Suite (which was scheduled to be presented on March 20th but postponed due to the virus), and the complex topics they explore in their work – including graduate-level mathematics! (You can see a documentary about the mathematics piece here and more dance films from their Titles Project on the Barkin/Selissen vimeo page!) We were particularly inspired to hear how Kyla and Aaron draw their audience members into an experience and create a sense of community that has in turn earned them a dedicated – and growing – base of diverse fans. 

Kyla Barkin was raised in Tempe, AZ and studied with “La Mariquilla” at the Academia de Ballet Flamenco in Granada, Spain, before receiving her B.A. in Dance from UCLA. She has toured and presented work internationally, and she is the recipient of multiple awards.

Aaron Selissen is originally from Green Bay, WI and received his B.F.A. in Dance Performance from Butler University. His choreographic work has been presented across the U.S., and his teaching and performance career has taken him across the US and abroad.

BARKIN/SELISSEN PROJECT (B/SP) is a New York City-based contemporary dance company that Kyla and Aaron founded in 2009 to present their choreography through live performance and workshops. The company strives to remove barriers and create a shared experience between the creative team and audience members, allowing for a more inclusive and memorable event. 

Kyla and Aaron have also created dance films. Accidental Suite premiered in June as 1 of 5 dance films in B/SP’s Titles Project, and the audience voted to have it expanded and presented live. The extended version was scheduled to premiere at Riverside Church on March 20th, but it has now been indefinitely postponed due to the Coronavirus. Featuring 9 dancers and an original score by Zac Selissen, it is a 75-minute celebration event including 30 minutes of live performance wrapped in a pre and post party. This performance installation evokes chance encounters, near misses, and the magnetic push and pull of relationships from start to finish.