Traditionally, choreography and design have been seen as distinctly separate practices; the “décor” of a dance is expected to support the “main event,” while remaining separate from it. Classical ballet scenography often relies on backdrops that purposefully avoid encroaching on the space for movement. The constructed architectural framework of the frontal venue or proscenium frame is generally accepted without critique.
In contrast, contemporary dance choreographer John Jasperse has treated design and dance-making as a unified and inseparable practice. While much of his work has been created for traditional performance spaces, he has repeatedly questioned those venues, at times engaging in a programmatic redefinition of the original architectural setting/context in order to draw attention to the perceptual paradigms that such architecture proposes.
This talk will explore these concerns as they have evolved in the history of Jasperse’s work, focusing on the reflexive relationship between experiences of embodied presence in space and the constructed design environments within which they occur.
John Jasperse is a dance artist and choreographer based in New York City. Through the support of the non-profit production structure John Jasperse Project (formerly John Jasperse Company), he has created 15 evening-length works and numerous shorter works. He has created commissioned works for the Baryshnikov Dance Foundation’s White Oak Project (2000), the Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv, Israel (2000), the Lyon Opéra Ballet, France (2002), the Irish Modern Dance Theater, Dublin, Ireland (2002), the Montana Suite Project for Headwaters Dance Company, Missoula, MT (2007), and the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Salt Lake City, Utah (2010), as well as numerous works for students. His work has been presented at such venues and festivals as the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival and The Joyce Theater in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, La Biennale di Venezia in Italy and Künstlerhaus Mousonturm in Frankfurt, Germany, among many others in the U.S. and abroad. Jasperse was the recipient of a 2001 New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award for his body of choreographic work. John Jasperse Company received a collective Bessie Award in 2002 for sustained achievement as an ensemble. Jasperse was the 2011 US Artist Brooks Hopkins Fellow and has been awarded many prestigious prizes and fellowships, including those from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts (2003), the Tides Foundation’s Lambent Fellowship in the Arts (2004), John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1998), the National Endowment for the Arts (1992, 1994, 1995-6), and the New York Foundation for the Arts (1988, 1994, 2000, 2010). http://johnjasperse.org/
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