Author Archive

off the plane and onto the dance floor

It’s been a while since I last blogged.  I wish I could say that that was due to work keeping me moving.  I definitely had a lot of work to do, but none of it had me moving, other than an amazing dance party I went to right when I got back to New York.  I even did “chicken fighting” and almost fell onto the speakers.

I suppose my physical moving locations from New York, to London, to Brussels, and the reverse does affect my thinking and moving.  But I can’t yet grasp it.

I could definitely grasp the pen, when earlier today I signed a lease on an amazing new apartment in Brooklyn!

Jillian Peña, 2009 MR artist-in-residence,, i love you

history resonating in my body

My favorite thing about London is how easy it is to get to other places.  I decided at the last minute to hop on the 2-hour train to Brussels for the week.  Amazing.  After seeing a couple friends, I attended a rehearsal performance for the new collaboration between Jerome Bel and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker.

I’m going to refrain from the long and critical conversation I’d like to have with you about it.

After my last post about architecture, I found myself extremely focused on the surroundings of the theater, La Monnaie, which was built more than 3 HUNDRED years ago.  It got me thinking about how no matter what, each piece presented there carries with it a heavy history.  Of course this is true at any theater, even relatively new ones in New York.  I’m curious how this affects the performance, both for viewers and performers.  My body felt different there.  I brought different attention.  It wasn’t just about expectation.  It was how my body reacts in a huge opera house filled with paintings and so much more.  This was the piece for me.

Jillian Peña, 2009 MR artist-in-residence,, i love you


I went to a talk last night by Alfredo Jaar, a Chilean artist living in New York.  He’s incredible, and if you have time:  Something I really loved and felt resonated with me was that he started by saying, “I’m an architect, but I make art in the art community.”  Although I can’t claim it like he can, I might try “I’m an architect, but I make dance,” or perhaps I should go for “I’m a choreographer, but I make architecture.”

He also referenced that old idea that an artist only ever makes one work, and each of their works is the attempt to fulfill that one piece.

Jillian Peña, 2009 MR artist-in-residence,, i love you

Practice and Research

I’m in a “practice-based research” program, but a friend at another school said that that modality is old-school, which is why she chose a “practice-led research” program.

Why the persistence of duality between practice and research?

Especially in my dance practice, if there’s one thing my body is doing, it’s research.

I need more research.

Jillian Peña, 2009 MR artist-in-residence,, i love you

Appropriating a Past that is still in the Present?

I’m staying with a woman here in London who is a professor of drama at Queen Mary, where they have a rad department and “drama” actually means performance art.  She told me today that a group of her graduate students have formed a contact improv group.  They feel that what they are doing isn’t necessarily the form itself, but an appropriation of the form.  They are working with a certain nostalgia about its origination.

I don’t know, I thought this sounded interesting, and I’m curious about what this looks/feels like in comparison with present contact.  I’m going to try to go while I’m here…

Jillian Peña, 2009 MR artist-in-residence,, i love you

Where am I and why am I here?

Hi hi everyone! So when asked which month I wanted to blog at MR, I chose this month of February because I knew I’d be back in London for a bit, which would give me the time and space to reflect. I thought it would be particularly interesting given my relationship to the dance community here, which is NO relationship.

When I first moved here, fall 2007, to start my PhD at Goldsmiths, I was visiting friends in Brussels and was out to dinner with a couple of PARTS faculty. I asked them about dance in London—if they knew people whose work I should see, or classes I should go to, etc. They both laughed, exchanged glances with each other, then turned back to me, “London!!! Why are you there? No, we don’t know anyone there.”

So although I tend to ignore dance while I’m here (other than in my studio and in my dreams), I’m curious to look at this issue and see where it comes from. Is it just snobbery, or is it warranted? What are the differences in the London and the New York dance community? Why is my work in one and not the other?

Jillian Peña, 2009 MR artist-in-residence,, i love you

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