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Each individual carries with them the weight of distinct physical experiences, memories, and character. In my work as a dance artist, I hope to make dances that speak compassionately to personhood; to investigate human connection, relationships, desires, and emotions through felt experiences. Over the past year, I have been discovering this through a feminist lens, as my work touches on ideas of subjectivity and sensuality, gender politics, and sexualization of the human form. Through sinewy, evocative, theatrical, and nuanced movement, I strive to produce work that ignites senses of familiarity as well as discomfort and surprise in the viewer.
In September 2015, I began a process which aimed to explore the body as a memoryhouse (or a dwelling) and to present it in a theatrically exciting and unusual way. I wanted to make a work that was cathartic for myself and my dancers, and passionately honest and generous for the viewers. “The Art of Dwelling” is a 25-minute dance work performed by Madeline Hopfield, Philip Paris and me. The piece is a culmination of my investigation into physical memories of sexual trauma, as well as the objectification of the dancing body in performance. I was interested in having these two lines of inquiry live side by side; allowing a conversation to unfold between them. Working with Maddie and Philip, I was curious to explore what physical memories they could access individually through our process of making a dance and how they could exist as free agents within a structure that I would design and compose. We worked through various improvisational scores that prioritized moving from an emotional state, and drew upon personal memories to generate written and choreographed material. Simultaneously, I cultivated a private practice where I could explore the relationship between my dancing body, my archival body, my sexual body, and my traumatized body. I was curious to work from a psychological and emotional state in my dance practice as this was something that almost always felt forbidden.
In the spring of 2016, I continued this investigation of physical memory and objectification of the female body into a second dance work. “pink body blues” performed in May 2016, extends the conversation to a greater range of feminist issues. The most significant element of “pink body blues” is the cast: eight female-bodied performers, diverse in performance background, body type, gender, sexuality, and race. They represent a myriad of different voices and bodies existing within a theatrical landscape I composed, and create a dynamic sense of contrast alongside one another. We worked to develop personal narratives and anecdotes from our distinctive memories and pivot them against archetypal troupes of femininity. The piece was crafted to expose both the dishonesty and authenticity in grotesque performances of femininity; caricaturing ourselves and stereotypical female roles as a mode of subversion. Throughout the process, I was striving to reveal a sense of honesty in the piece. It was important that the work dealt with vulnerability and a state of not knowing. The final work reflected the process, as there was room for ambiguity, confusion, and failure as well as moments of virtuosity, beauty, and tenderness.
Although my work throughout the past year is primarily concerned with the politics of gender, I ultimately strive to create performance work that speaks to a vast psychological and emotional landscape of humanity–– beyond concerns of sexual trauma, femininity, “girlhood” and “womanhood.” I create dance from intuitive, emotional feeling states to mirror my social environment; to unearth honesty through physical and emotional intelligence, even in the smallest degree, will allow me to feel satisfied with the work I have made.
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Yugler, Susannah Bette, "Pink Body Blues: Grotesque Femininity, Gestural Feminism, and Objectification of The Female Body in Performance" (2016). Senior Projects Spring 2016. 170.
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