From 2015-2017, I worked as the Andrew W. Mellon Interdisciplinary Choreography through the Movement Matters Residency at Middlebury College. This residency was a 44-month institutional exploration at Middlebury College that sought to foster artistic creation and curricular development at the pedagogical nexus of embodied learning and scholarly interests with a special emphasis on increasing global understanding. During my time as the artist-in-residency, I collaborated with students, faculty, staff, the local community, and my professional colleagues beyond the institution to 1) choreograph dance works and teach movement-based classes and workshops with a broad range of participants, 2) develop interdisciplinary projects, 3) host residencies with national and international artists, and 4) develop curricular lessons in programs across campus. This program was made possible by a major performing arts grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Learn more about the residency activities at go/movementmatters.
Research and Questions
In my work as a dance artist, I make efforts to honor diversity and create spaces for inclusion in regard to race, gender, sexuality, ability, and class by using improvisational methods that begin with tasks, scores, directives, images, and metaphors with which each participant has their own experience and from which a spectrum of unpredictable movement possibilities emerge. We can encounter tenderness, vulnerability, disruption, messy intersections, contradiction, curiosity, skepticism, fear, and hope. These methods also offer a meaningful way to generate choreographic material that draws from the personal experiences of the people with which I am working. Through this practice-based research, the moving body can act as the site to abstract what is familiar and be guided by intuition and impulse to try and access the subconscious. We then have the opportunity to notice or interrupt physical and mental habits. These noticings and interruptions can help us follow tangential information that lead us into liminal zones and offer the possibility of uncovering new information related to identity, perception, and being in our contemporary, global circumstance. Among our percolating questions are, how might these spaces help us uncover or offer tools for self discovery, building community, navigating disagreement, establishing and re-negotiating boundaries, and recognizing structures of mobility, oppression, and privilege? How might these ‘heightened’ experiences offer us anchorage in our modern moment of rapidity, acceleration, and high productivity. How do these experiences alter our approach to academic pursuits and creative interests, as well as our daily lives, that help us engage in the world with full bodied listening and arrive at more nuanced understandings?
Mission from Professor Owens
— moving bodies to process difference; embodying movement to produce differently —
we build coalitions of challenge and acceptance, working through the dialectic of mirror and reflection, but liberating them from each other. We mirror free from reflection, following movements of the other, getting out of our heads and into our bodies. By learning into the other, we create a richer understanding and experience of the body, our own and of others. We reflect free from mirrors, drawing these new embodied sensations and knowledges into a space safe for creative imagining, sheltered from the hungry eyes demanding immediate product. In this tug of war, we push and pull our bodies, our minds across and through disciplinary and institutional boundaries.