The Rural We: Rowan Willigan
What do you do when you have a surfeit of talent, energy and interests in a long list of creative realms? If you’re Rowan Willigan, a dancer-choreographer-artist-photographer-teacher and food blogger (we’ve probably left out a few other activities), you do them all. Red Hook, New York born and raised, Willigan says “I’m primarily an artist, but a creative-minded person who does a lot of things and tries to find a creative avenue for all the interests I have.”
Sometimes doing all those things can be difficult and overwhelming, but I don’t feel like I have any other choice — I’m so happy doing all them. I love to be creative and work with people.
I danced with Solas an Lae, an Irish dance school in the area, from early childhood until high school graduation. I also performed contemporary dance with the company. Then I went to Bard for Studio Arts. It’s the last place I though I would go for college, but it was perfect for me.
I am the artistic director of The D’Amby Project, a dance company and school in Red Hook. We offer dance classes beginning with traditional Irish training and advancing to contemporary. We perform locally and have traveled locally, in Boston, and internationally. I also teach an art class for kids at the dance studio.
My artwork is mostly abstract painting and drawing on a large scale. I just got a great opportunity through Bard to paint a bunch of murals at the Freehand NY Hotel, which will be opening at 23rd and Lexington. They’re renovating the old George Washington Hotel and I’ll be among 10 artists painting 20 to 25 murals in the guest rooms. I’ll be there for two or three weeks, and will get to live in the hotel while I’m working.
I just take any opportunity that comes my way, so I have a weirdly wide-ranging portfolio. I’ve shot a few weddings, and I love shooting dance. I also have a service through Fivver.com. I email back and forth with a client, learn about that person’s interest, and then give sketchbook prompts to help that person jumpstart his or her creativity. I have a shop on Etsy where I sell my own artwork.
My boyfriend and I (we met at Bard) love to eat, and like to find the restaurants around here. We started a food blog because we’re always experimenting and searching out the small-operation breweries and distilleries.
I grew up in Red Hook and still live here. I’m so in love with the area, I don’t feel any desire to move away.