I consider my class a powerful way to shift roles of student, facilitator/teacher, and accompanist. Using somatic visualization and exercises as a starting point, we confront our bodies and experience vocalizing as expansive resonance, movement as creature-like transformation, and performance as social disturbance. I create a space for improvisation that is both safe and dangerous: safe for the full expression and observation of the self, and an open portal to express dangerous parts of oneself–the dark, rebellious, and derelict. In this context, I make clear that there are no assumed boundaries or rules, and I instruct as I participate, breaking the barrier between student and teacher.

My interdisciplinary workshops combine voice, somatic/body based principles for performance, and work with performative objects. Working with the partner concepts of affordance and emergence, we will investigate how the performative body and voice afford us a multitude of possibilities for action and enable fascinating systems of interaction to emerge.

Most recently, I toured my interdisciplinary workshop DESIRE/REVILE. Some notes on that: As an interdisciplinary, improvisational performer and workshop facilitator, I am captivated by the underlying motives for any action. In workshops and lab-based environments, often it is assumed that we should follow our “interests” or “intentions,” when in fact our in-the-moment actions are a result not of clear-cut decisions but our relationship to the organism of bodies, room and objects around us colliding with what’s inside us. What do we want and why? What if we derailed ourselves, worked with our own insincerity, faked ourselves out, played tricks? Is it possible to create a realm where as much as possible is valid and nothing is right?

Last year, I worked with Matthew Gantt, electronic composer, who creates a sonic setup of amps and mics that he then distorts and loops as a means of both orienting and disorienting students to the space and their own voices. Students can interact with and interrupt this setup, as it is not relegated or entirely controlled.

By working with internal, somatic exercises, then placing different “nodes” of objects and bodies in relationship to one another, the notion of learning expands from body/object to environment/body as well as body/body.

Rather than an already-existent system in which participants are cogs, the activity of the participants themselves create systems are possible when cause and effect are constantly shifting positions (from object to sound to voice to body to room); thus, the situation of the class is one of emergence.

I always desire to teach a mixture of people. I have taught university students in Beirut (NAHNOO) and Puebla (UDLAP), performance artists, singers, theorists, babies, poets, families, always with the aim of creating contact points between different kinds of people and experiences, and a temporary sense of community.

This work has spawned from three years of my performance workshops taking place in New York, Chicago, Puebla (MX), and Beirut. Recent workshops were produced through University of Kentucky-Lexington, where I was a guest artist, and The Exponential Festival. Past classes were at CLASSCLASSCLASS at the New Museum, as well as the Performancy Forum Quinquennial at Grace and GET YOUR A$$ IN CLA$$ at Abrons Art Center.

photo credit Laura Bartczak


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