Performing ‘Cutty Sark’ with Aberdeen Performing Arts, Sep. 2022. Credit: Newsline Media.

I am an experienced dancer, improviser, and choreographer working in a range of styles. From age five I trained at a pre-professional level in classical ballet, and from nine trained in contemporary dance, predominantly Graham, Horton, and Cunningham technique. I hold an undergraduate dance degree from Bates College, where my major involved technical movement training, choreography mentoring and experience, and education in dance theory and history. In the summers of 2012 and 2013 I completed the Bates Dance Festival Professional Training Program.

As a choreographer, I am interested in creating multidisciplinary work combining spoken word performance and movement. In 2012 I began experimenting with melding these art forms in various ways, including having dancers speak aloud while performing (and thus witnessing the effect of speech on movement/breath) and using poetry (live or recorded) as the soundscape to live dance performance. I have been particularly influenced in this practice by Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Some of my dance-poetry projects have included:

  • ‘Cutty Sark’: Commissioned by the Scottish Storytelling Centre & Edinburgh City of Literature for Figures of Speech: Music (2022)
  • ‘Breathing Space’: Commissioned by Brand Calibre for their 2021 Mental Health Awareness film campaign (2021)
  • Commissioned by Glasgow-based poet and filmmaker Sarah Grant to choreograph movement for her solo show and film “Spark” (2018)
  • Performed in the poetry/dance project FLOW! (Edinburgh 2015, Elgin 2016)
  • “Polos”: Cinepoem created in collaboration with Per Jonsson (2015); performed live onstage at the Edinburgh Fringe (2016)
Still from ‘Breathing Space,’ commissioned by Brand Calibre Glasgow, spring 2022.

I am currently interested in performance and choreography opportunities in Edinburgh and across Scotland. In particular, I would love to work with spoken word artists on developing their movement practices. To collaborate, please get in touch here or email me directly via kathryn.a.ailes (at)

(L-R) Kelsey Schober, Katie Ailes, Tara Das in Talia Mason’s “Empty House,” 2013. Photo credit: Phillis Graber Jensen.

‘Dr Ailes [does] a tremendous feat in pairing spoken word with choreography, incorporating score to align with said movements. Precise, fusing a few traditional movements with a more elaborate and condensed ballet, with occasional harsh strokes of aggression in her movements, it’s a building recital, where the frustrations grow and eventually explode in a euphoric and freeing manner.’ —Corr Blimey, reviewing ‘Cutty Sark’ performed at Figures of Speech, Scottish Storytelling Centre, spring 2022

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