I craft contemporary dance works through a patient, collaborative process. My casts keep audiences on their toes with sudden shifts between nuanced gestures, over the top physicalities, meditative moments, and absurd exchanges that are awkward, honest, hilarious, raw, and virtuosic. To build a group and generate movement material, I draw from methods in dance, theater, bodywork, visual art, writing, with the aim of expanding the range of who can dance and what can be considered dance to celebrate a range of bodies and experiences. There is play between what is familiar and unexpected. Dancers move in silence then break into choir-like singing and guttural grunting. Performances may be partnered with original music tracks ranging from mash ups of found sounds to rock bands to atmospheric electronica. Elaborate sets made of cardboard boxes may be destroyed; a trampoline and chairs can be reconfigured. We may be colorful in exaggerated pedestrian looks or muted in oversized rompers. On occasion, the fourth wall is broken through a sensitive gaze, intimate conversation, or a prop given as a gift. My collaborators and I consider ideas like borders and boundaries, our experiences of Asian identity and belonging, and the potential for contradictory elements to exist in a single moment. By starting with questions or concerns, dance-making is a way for me to explore what exists between and beyond known categorizations and cultivate curiosity toward what is different or unexpected.

What people have said about the work:

“Maree’s work takes a leap from seemingly ordinary movement(s), and blossoms into a lively celebration that honors each collaborator’s unique human contribution.”
– Liza Sacheli, Director of Mahaney Center for the Arts

Just wanted to tell you how spectacular last night’s performance (I’m not sure “performance” is the right word–embodiment?”) was. I have never  been so drawn in and engaged before! I started out wondering, “are they all dancers? Are none of them trained? I usually find myself looking among the dancers for the “best” one, trying to decide whether my eye is “good enough” to tell the difference.  It never occurred to me to ask that last night. This time all I saw were the bodies, all of them perfect, the movements and the emotions they drew out of me. It made me look at dance in a whole new way. One body was as beautiful as another. One movement as lovely as another. I know I am attempting to express this without the proper vocabulary, but….wow!!  Just wow. Thank you. Thanks for a memorable evening.
Virginia Bates, audience member in response to Movement Matters: Two Years in Process Performance Presentation





19 thoughts on “Projects

  1. Dear Maree-

    I wrote the following pros in reflecting upon my final MFA Project “The Anathema Project.” I thought this might be a source of inspiration in your process of generating material:

    “There once was a young and shy little boy (more girl than anything) who saw the world through a looking glass – raw and open. In a moment of stillness he yearned and ached to plummet into darkness and engender the depths of compassion. As he so desperately fell away, a dull and wrinkled draping caressed the face of an ephemeral shadow,” echoed the burning giraffe as it blazed its spine beyond the cold blue desert on the far edge of consciousness.

    Feel free to use this in way you see fit. Your project sounds absolutely fabulous. I respect your artistry and have no doubt in your creative process. Trust away…

    All my best, Eran-

  2. i am going to send you via email a pdf of a scan of notes from a solo I made in 1987. The notes are a sketch of the floor pattern of the solo, drawn for the benefit of the lighting designer. the numbers on the sketches refer to the “phrases” in the dance – phrases of movement literally taken from phrases of a journal entry. The solo was titled “Confidences”. Perhaps this floor pattern will live on in some mash up way? I can send you the journal/score too if you want but probably TMI. Sorry, i don’t know how to upload a pdf to your site? check your email.

  3. just listened to a talk radio show on the relationship of man , nature, and god. the idea was that god gives morality or ethics, nature does not . but nature may make us feel closer to god at times. is man reverting to the worship of nature over god? If man did not exsist than what is the point of nature or the natural world. Is the natural world there for the use and enjoyment of man ? and if we begin to worship nature over god what happens to our morality and ethics. provacative questions. don’t know if this is useful to you . but there it is.

  4. as far as pure dance goes you know that i like graceful movement . senuous movement . an obvious point or story or idea. and a diversity of music. i am mostly a traditionalist in my thinking and enjoyment. i believe in traditon as tevia sings in fiddler on the roof.

  5. The studio felt less lonely today. Aspects of the creative process can sometimes feel isolating or can leave me feeling somewhat trapped within the confines of my own mind. Having a folder full of input from others helped to dissolve that feeling; it felt more as if I were interacting with someone in the room. Michael’s Laban score reminded me how quickly a “new language” can erase itself from my memory. At first, I felt attached to trying to recall the symbols exactly. About halfway through the reading of this information I remembered that I was in charge of the situation and that interpretation was at my discretion. While replaying recordings of the explorations I was noting tendencies in timing, quality, the “held” nature of my movements, and draw towards gesture. I read through Eran’s prose and underlined the following: “raw and open,” “stillness,” “dull and wrinkled draping,” and “cold blue desert.” Raw and open led me work with gestures related to the mouth, opening the mouth; it made me think fresh, flesh, not manicured, raw meat, the inside of a grapefruit, uncut versions, blunt, in your face. Lynn’s writing regarding “tradition” crept in while I was moving with Eran’s thoughts and I ended up tacking on ballet-esque material. My mother’s definition of tradition related to dance being story ballet or more narrative/recognizable popular dance forms. Finally, SVPP’s Confidences floor patterns. The words “ear to floor open up again” caught my eye and I traced the floor pattern with my ear while pushing myself across the floor. Towards the end of the rehearsal, I found myself questioning the validity of working through a process like this, again. Lately, this seeps into most of my investigations, which makes me question why I recently feel the need to ask.

  6. Hi Maree,
    Wanted to send something. This has been sitting around for a while. Maybe interesting, maybe not. Happy studio. xo, Jonelle


    A theatre woman
    after 30 years accepts an award
    Her clothes no longer fit
    She wears leggings

    Woman, woman
    she cannot escape
    her bovinity, her
    elastic chew, dull punches
    sending dust up in puffs
    from dough

    her voice laid down in confidence:
    like jewels in ash over coals.

    How much of the evolution of an art
    is about economy?
    Her drink sacrificed
    to ring the table

    I read
    instructions for moving your bones
    separate from, then together with, the muscle,
    all warming under the skin
    the effect is a semi-solid: the space,
    near gelid, the body, of a single solution

    I see
    in the round
    a theatre-goer mouthing the words
    as I thickly sift
    the batting wrapping my there-ness

    I am
    a woman alone
    sniffing the lids of spice jars

  7. I am going to give you some objects. Once I make them. Give me some time.
    I love you and I am actually taking classes in your department and I still don’t see you! Wah!
    take care,

  8. I’ve recently discovered the poems of Saul Williams. I’ve listed 3 below:

    Two autumns
    and I have not
    changed enough
    I don’t trust the man
    that i am becoming
    he seems too much
    and seldom is
    i simply stopped
    writing of truth
    when my truths
    no longer sounded

  9. I guess I have been a little timid to write anything. I was not really “clear” what I was suppose to do or say or how to go about it. So I steared clear. But than I got this friendly post, a little nudge and you know what?!? I am rather excited to be posting. Although, I am still doubting what it is I “should” be saying. I suppose that is the point..

    Anywho, I find inspiration usually while I am driving and I start daydreaming. Colors, textures, sound, movement. Things usually float around in my head for a few days, than I will say my thoughts outloud to someone (usually not mking sense at that point). I find this helps to allow the idea to manifest, allow the universe to help you out with it. My most favorite thing is catching myself creating movement in the middle of my room or the kitchen. So strange how movement jst literally takes me over. I find creating small snippets of movement that feel so natural on ur body can be more powerful than busting out tons of material for the sake of material. Try going to the studio and giving urself only lke 10 mins. Use all the above stragies before you get there and practice jst those few moves. You mght jst suprise urself. Hope this helps frick.. Love and Light!! HB

  10. I am finally posting my “text/language/image” based input. It is two excerpts from Anne Carson’s “The Glass Essay.” I am offering them as movement directives in the sense of Butoh-fu or the constant narrative of a Gaga class. But with Carson’s poetry instead.

    “I took up the practice of meditation.
    Each morning I sat on the floor in front of my sofa
    and chanted bits of old Latin prayers.

    De profundis clamavi ad te Domine.
    Each morning a vision came to me.
    Gradually I understood that these were naked glimpses of my soul.

    I called them Nudes.
    Nude #1. Woman alone on a hill.
    She stands into the wind.

    It is a hard wind slanting from the north.
    Long flaps and shreds of flesh rip off the woman’s body and lift
    and blow away on the wind, leaving

    an exposed column of nerve and blood and muscle
    calling mutely through lipless mouth . . .”

    “Nude #13 arrived when I was not watching for it.
    It came at night.

    Very much like Nude #1.
    And yet utterly different.
    I saw a high hill and on it a form shaped against hard air.

    It could have been just a pole with some old cloth attached,
    but as I came closer
    I saw it was a human body

    trying to stand against winds so terrible that the flesh was blowing off the bones.
    And there was no pain.
    The wind

    was cleansing the bones.
    They stood forth silver and necessary.
    It was not my body, not a woman’s body, it was the body of us all.
    It walked out of the light.”

    If the poetry itself feels too daunting, I’m thinking of little directive translations like:
    “Stand as if in strong wind, as if flaps and shreds of flesh are being ripped off and lifted away in the wind.”
    “Call mutely as if through a lipless mouth.”
    “Stand as if against winds so terrible that flesh is blowing off your bones, without pain.”
    “Let your bones stand forth silver and necessary.”
    “Walk out of light.”

    Maybe the “translations” from the poetry are more useful?
    I didn’t realize until I was deriving the directives how much there is about “standing.” Might be a point of interest, the differences in standings. And then the “walking out of light.”

    Love. It’s going to be beautiful.

  11. “The whole thing, small and dainty in proportion, and fresh, somehow charming instead of impressive. There seems to have been in Etruscan instinct a real desire to preserve the natural humour of life. And that is a task surely more worthy, and even much more difficult in the long run, than conquering the world, or sacrificing the self or saving the immortal soul.”

    – D.H. Lawrence ETRUSCAN PLACES

    A recent inspiration for my own choreography. Enjoy and be well!
    xoxo Sarah

  12. Abby’s Selections from Posts:
    Build brightness,
    Cinanmon swirl, lighting a cigarette and building brightness.
    Step right, circle left arm back with claw.
    A woman along sniffing the lids of spice jars.
    Sad, lonely older woman opening things she’s not supposed to, but sneaking it.

    I don’t trust the man that I am becoming.
    Nudge with the whole body.
    Laugh with your fingers.
    Laugh with your guts.
    Go down, down, down.

  13. More select words by Abby:
    you guts

    Select words from Lisa:
    build brightness
    mason jars
    cold blue desert
    find the edges

  14. maree’s selected words:
    your fingers
    your guts
    light your cigarette
    elastic chew
    i am a woman alone sniffing the lids of spice jars
    i don’t trust the man i am becoming