AN ARTIST'S STATEMENT
Improvisation and performance making are my modes of seeking, experimenting, failing, listening, being transported, dreaming. I make and perform work in an attempt to identify and embody alternate ways of witnessing and being witnessed, alternate ways of co-existing and being in community with my collaborators, and those who make up audiences to my work. I make work as a way to delve into the somatics of myth and delusion, the addiction to and catharsis of feeling comfortable. I'm interested in activating performance as a way to dismantle my own comfort through challenging prescribed ways of existing, occupying, and taking up space. I'm curious about the truth(s) possible in disorientation, the potential for magic in challenge.
There is a productive tug-of-war, a creative fire-starter, in the friction between desiring to eschew definition in my work, and embrace it. In the friction in recognizing the simultaneous impossibilities of legibility and illegibility. I both make performance and am made through performance, in the same way that I affect my surroundings, and I am affected by my surroundings. I dance, and I am danced by forces and currents well beyond my devising: I am in a constant collaboration with space, time, physics, history, imagination, and the energy brought and shared by each person in the room, be they collaborator, or audience member. I am interested in the space between what is seen and what is felt, when the eyes can touch, the skin can see, the back of the neck can listen. I’m interested in the space shared by sight, imagination, embodied history, and projection, and the requisite tensions they create. I’m interested in trusting what is barely visible or invisible, and searching for how I can dig into it, how form can be used merely as a vehicle or frame for a committed but constantly shifting action, a listening, a reflection, a container for an energetic content. I attempt through performing and performance-making, to remain open to integrating the physical often fleeting knowledge that is experience itself, without a preconception of what that knowledge will be. I attempt to quilt together ways of knowing that can only exist through action. I aim to contend with the impossibility of attaining preconceived plans, but to acknowledge the value in making them, that that value shows up somehow, somewhere.
I make work 'about' many things: queerness, gender, abstraction, ritual, healing, memory, intimacy, violence, whiteness, and their intersections. Sometimes this content is explicit and sometimes it's not- but it always seeps into the work, as it is inherent to my being. While the majority of my training is in dance and movement forms, I'm not sure that my work is always or often 'dance', or that I really care what genre or box it is put into (dance, theatre, performance art, sound installation, etc.). I believe the tools of each of these, while in some ways distinct, are intimately related, and I want my audiences to trust their own experiences of my work, from their own reference points. I'm not interested in dictating what it is that should be taken away, though I do want to take responsibility for my choices, and what I ask people to watch and enact with me. I believe it's critical to credit my lineages of study: modern and post-modern dance forms, West African and Afro-Caribbean Diasporic dance forms, Flamenco, and some training in experimental music (mostly voice) and theater. I recognize the flaws in attempting to name influences and lineages of training as broad strokes- that each is comprised of the names and work of so many individuals I have been lucky to learn from. Additionally, everything I go see, everything I read, every person I talk to is a different kind of influence- whether I am inspired, moved, bored, or angered by what they offer, I learn more about what it is that I am after, as a person, and as an artist, and I am shaped through these interactions.
I wonder about the distinction between self-awareness and self-absorption- I both question and accept that as an artist I will feel tension in my attempt to navigate intuition, assumption, escapism, imagination, presence, numbness, fantasy, history, comfort, discomfort. I’m interested in continually questioning how I can decolonize my art practice, as it exists in conversation with, bleeds into and out of, is born from, and births every other aspect of my life practice. I know that I've experienced the physical-energetic-somatic absorption of an invisibilized history of individualism and individual ‘invention’, the absorption of the myth/manifest destiny of ‘originality’ or 'original creation' that is embedded in the history of white supremacy as it plays out, in, and through the scale of my individual white female queer artist body/self. I’m interested in how I’ve been conditioned to seek control, mastery, knowledge, and definition in my thinking, dancing, and making. And how the authority to define (whether this is of concepts, movement-forms, physicalities, conventions, or boundaries), is so often granted because of and sought out through hierarchical institutions and models, in which 'originality', solo 'invention' and 'cutting edge' are worshipped. I attempt to use my choreographic and improvisational practice as a way to shed control, dismantle definition, to reframe what I think I know, ways I have been taught to take up space (or not take up space), what I have been taught to claim authority over. To shake myself up. This does not mean disrespecting what I or others have put time and labor into learning, articulating, or crafting. It does mean constantly questioning and challenging what I know and what I make, and questioning the origin stories, histories, and present-day practices of movement forms I've been taught about and through. It also involves failing, and accepting that I will never fully know what I don't know. It involves having trust while being destabilized, attempting to be grounded amidst shifting ground, and welcoming both challenge and delight.