I place myself in the tradition of experimental dance artists starting with the early modern dance pioneers and continuing through to the radical artists spawned in the Judson Church era. These inquisitive artists used a rigorous investigation of the body as a vehicle to reconceptualize the nature of form and to constantly re-negotiate the relationships between art, environment, power and place. I am committed to this legacy of being a constant inquisitor and devotee to the rigor of process. Situating myself in the American tradition of examining the frontier—the border between wilderness and civilization—as a dynamic arena for embodying the contradictions of freedom and power, my dance work navigates the territory between what is wild and civilized.
In the navigational dance project BIRD BRAIN I make dances that are informed and created by the process of navigating along the migrational journeys of animals. By literally following a similar time frame and spatial pattern the dancing is responsive to both the micro and macro events that affect the animals migration. My observation of animals as well as scientific research into their navigational tools and perceptual abilities informs my own approach to navigation as a dancer. This process has been rich and complex starting from a deep investigation of the senses and navigating the bodies systems – (Gray Whale Migration); to creating dances within and of particular places (Osprey Migration) to investigating the energetics of flocking and adaptive systems (Ducks and Geese Migration) to creating interactive systems within the container of a theatrical setting as well as pointing to the relationship of the theater’s building to its environment (Flight of Mind). I started this project feeling bereft – that wilderness as I understood it no longer existed in the world (or soon wouldn’t). My understanding of wilderness has evolved into something intertwined within our own consciousness and interaction with the environment. Wilderness or wildness is a state of dynamic adaptability constantly that surrounds us whether in the massive effect of Hurricane Katrina, of the micro affect of endangered butterflies returning to the Twin Cities Ammunitions Plant or the emergent systems of the World Wide Web. Am I compounding wilderness and nature? The usefulness of the term “nature” has become complicated for me as I struggle with the dialectic of nature/not nature. What is not nature? Wilderness becomes a more amenable concept for me in that it alludes to something untamable, unknowable and challenging, and it is a very human concept. Wilderness as a concept seems central to human evolution. Dancing is a powerful medium for addressing our “nature” and is one of the places I experience wildness.
My current artistic concerns have brought me back to the urban environment. In order to support my own work as well as creative interdisciplinary collaborations with other artists, researchers and designers I have incorporated as iLAND- Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art Nature and Dance.