Expanded Artist Statement
My movement style is influenced heavily by post-modern, modern, and counter techniques. I situate my work within experimental and post-modern traditions. I strive to engage in serious play. I aim to have fun in the process of making, to view rehearsal as a lab, a place to explore. I aim to make work that uses elements of comedy and playfulness, while centering on serious and important topics pertaining to politics and identity. I see my work in dialogue with work that strives to make political statements by exposing and exploding societal/cultural norms (Penny Arcade, Cynthia Oliver’s “virago-man dem”, Mary Grace McNally’s “Not for Picking”, Vanessa Anspaugh’s “The End of Men, Again”).
While I tend to be drawn to movement that is large, kinetic, and specific, I hardly ever create movement and give it to others to learn- my process is generally collaborative, with all of us generating material together. I’m always actively negotiating my relationship with the people I work with. I’m constantly trying to strike some balance between mutual exploration with no sense of hierarchy, and creating something with my own specific visions and voice. In the way I work, no one is replaceable. The work is built over time, together, in a layered fashion, so that each person is inextricably woven into the fabric of the dance and community.
I like the idea of a self-sustainable work and a self-sustainable community. Ideally, I would work with the same people for hours each day, to solidify the community that I strive to create when making work. I am only interested in making work that reaches into our lives, and which our lives reach into, and that includes our relationships with the people in the work. I don’t want to be able to leave the work in the studio, I want it to have a real effect on everyone involved.
I am interested in the power and expressiveness of both “dance-y” and pedestrian movement. They are both important in the exploration of what movement and our physical selves do on a daily basis in our lives. Touch and partnering are a large part of how I work. Touch/partnering is integral to my process both as a mode of community building, idea exploration, and movement generation. I am very much influenced by the intricate partnering and patterning that is often present in the work of both David Dorfman and Doug Varone. I am also influenced by work which uses text and voice (Bill T. Jones, David Dorfman’s “Aroundtown”). In my own processes I love working with live music and dancers who can sing, play instruments, etc.
I curious about disrupting norms of performance. Instead of hiding effort/making movement look effortless, I work to expose visible effort. This also connects to my interest in performance quality and specifically how we use our eyes and faces, which are integral to expressing/hiding effort. Both the ideas of visible effort and exploring the face/eyes come up in my current work in which I’m exploring vulnerability, and if/how vulnerability can truly exist in a performative environment, without become performed.
Along the lines of disrupting norms, I’m immensely influenced by work which questions the traditional proscenium setting and performer/audience relationship (Isabel Lewis, Yasmeen Godder’s “Climax”, Inda Walsh’s “homespun”, Gerard and Kelly’s “Reuseable Parts/Endless Love”). I constantly question the traditional proscenium stage and audience/performer relationship, in order to examine and determine what type of performance set-up and audience/performer relationship the work needs.
Questioning the traditional power structures and connotations implicit in the traditional proscenium performance setting also leads to one of my main goals as a dance maker and member of the dance world, which is to make dance spaces more accessible for non-dancers/non-artists. How can we create spaces where EVERYONE feels welcome? How can we language our work in a way that is accessible without dumbing down or eliminating ideas?
One of the dilemmas I often bump up against in making work: I am constantly in negotiation with the desire for a process-based process, and the act of working in a performatively driven art form. How can we be in a process to explore and learn with vigour and honesty, while knowing that our exploration will lead to a performance, and while gearing our exploration towards that performance? While I do value process and exploration, I also want to make work that can be shared. I believe that one of the jobs of dance, as a form that works with the human body, is to shift our perceptions of how we are capable of existing in the world. And if that can’t be shared widely, it seems to defeat the purpose.
Related to performance, I am also intrigued by performance itself and what being in front of others does to us as people and as performers. I puzzle over if/how what we do in rehearsal, prepares us to perform. Doug Varone says that putting a work on stage/in front of others is the beginning of a process, not the end. Therefore, I find it crucial to put work in front of others before any official showing. We must prepare ourselves to perform, by engaging in performance practices. I work to emphasize in process that performance is a part of the work and not just the culmination. By doing this, I hope to cultivate a performance quality of ease, humanness, playfulness, and adaptability.