Current Dance/Performance/Somatics Reviews
Here is an engagement with my 2021 online Movement Research/MELT workshop, Home Launch. Fabulous to see this discussed – it is so hard to find words for the experience of these ecosomatic choreo-dreams. Catherine Wagley in ‘Bodies that Move: On Process Over Product,’ in CARLA:
“Typically, Movement Research, a dance and movement laboratory, hosts MELT workshops each summer and winter in person in New York City, but the pandemic forced programming online, making it accessible to those of us located elsewhere. Early on in her MELT class, which she titled Home Launch, artist, disability culture activist, and scholar Petra Kuppers asked us to make a “nest” as a launch pad for the dream journeys, trances, and intuitive collaborative dances we’d undertake throughout our time together—a week of one-hour-a-day meetings. My nest was a yoga mat on a carpet, but others appeared to curl up on beds or couches.
Kuppers has a calm, comfortable moderating style, the result of years of practice. The Olimpias, the performance group she cofounded in Wales in 1996, often invites the public into their performances (“there isn’t really an audience position,” Kuppers has said of The Olimpias’ actions; “you kind of step into it and you do it”). The group calls itself a “disability performance artist collective”—Kuppers dances from a wheelchair—and creates workshops and opportunities for those with cognitive, physical, or emotional differences to move together.
In leading Home Launch, Kuppers made no assumptions about what a body could or should be able to do, an approach that invited all of us in attendance to similarly toss off expectations of ourselves and others. She also made sure to let us know that she had borrowed certain exercises and terms from others—friends, past collaborators, and influences, including performer and choreographer Ishmael Houston-Jones and scholar Donna J. Haraway. Such acknowledgment grounded our time together in something bigger, communal, and complex; threads of connection ran off-screen, beyond the virtual space we temporarily shared, weaving an amorphous web pregnant with information that we, the participants, could plot our way through at our own speed. …
I have found it helpful over the years to think of art as something that is for rather than about life, a tool for living, though not in a self-improvement way. While highly-stylized self-care products have to provide feel good solutions, however short-lived, art needn’t improve anything in any quantifiable way. Instead, art can help to pick aspects of life apart, or make us feel differently. This can be hard to remember at times, given its status as a constructed, exclusive commercial object—though easier to conjure while lying on the floor in your own living room with your eyes closed.
During one of the dream journeys Kuppers led, she invited us to imagine our blood flowing. Imaginary blood didn’t have to be red, she pointed out, and I imagined my blood the exact color of my nearby yellowish-gold couch, picturing liquid pumping through its worn cushions, and delighted at how in touch I felt with my home, in an irreverent, unstructured sort of way. More delightful still was the fact that others had also sought out this amorphous, weird kind of togetherness—here we all were, “in our bodies,” and in our nests, mostly just to explore what it meant to be here.” (Catherine Wagley, CARLA, Bodies that Move: On Process Over Product 2021, 23: 18/19) https://contemporaryartreview.la/ (Click carla > Issue 23 )
Recent Interviews/Practice Reports
For a different kind of insight into my working practices, here is an interview/discussion of my queer/eco/arts teaching (2021)
Disability Dance: The Power of Difference: a conversation between Petra Kuppers and Sydney Erlikh. Part of X Dance Festival, Finland. Full Video of the Conversation. (2021)
Essay about our drifting performance practice, co-written with Stephanie Heit, in Ecotone Magazine.
Community Arts/Dance: A PBS documentary segment about Petra's community dance practice