Author Archive

Eiko and Koma

Last night, for the first time I saw Eiko and Koma Perform at the Lynden Sculpture Garden produced by Alverno Presents in River Hills Wisconsin. The day before, I had participated in a workshop with the artists who took our grad group through a series of sleeping/dreaming scores. When Eiko & Koma arrived in Milwaukee Wednesday afternoon, three days prior to the performance, they changed the site from where they had decided during their earlier site visit. Instead of an idyllic spot near the south bank of the garden’s large pond they chose a dried out pond. The staff had to construct a low platforms in the middle of the dried pond full of dried algae. At 6 pm the performance started with capacity audience sitting around the dried pond in the remaining heat. Following Raven Eiko & Koma performed a variation of Event Fission for which they took off their Raven costumes and covered themselves with flour paste. This year marks an important retrospective for the artists who will be performing throughout the country in addition to free concerts in New York. Go to their website for performance dates.


Nearing the end of my summer in Milwaukee. Elizabeth Zimmer came to UWM and gave us a workshop on dance criticism. We went to a dance concert and then wrote a 300 word review by 9 am the next morning. Each of the 24 participants had to read their review out loud which was a humbling experience to say the least. Elizabeth spoke a lot about using descriptive language in order to show your opinion instead of blanket statements that say very little about the action. While I understand the importance of documentation and description, I also want the critic to take a stance. Now, there is a difference between taking a stance and annihilating someone’s piece in a polemic.

Juliana F. May Movement Research AIR 2011

Dance Footage

Below are some links to some wonderful footage. I am sure we have all come across these over the years but I thought I would post them again. I am currently taking a Laban Movement Analysis course so some of these are related. Mixed in are a few other random clips of interest including the work of Martin Puryear who has informed my work. Enjoy!Mary Wigman’s Witch DanceJohn Cage’s “Water Walk” on the show “I’ve got a secret.”Mathilde MonnierMathilde Monnier #2Martin PuryearMartin Puryear footage of work

-Juliana F. May 2011 MR artist in residence

Hello! first July blog post

This is my first post as the July MR blogger. I am currently in Milwaukee attending the second summer of my MFA at the University of Wisconsin. I have been writing and thinking a lot about meaning and interpretation in dance so I thought I would share a bit on this blog. Any thoughts or contributions to this dialogue are greatly appreciated.

Making Meaning
Throughout the past 10 years, I have become increasingly interested in the relationship between feeling, form and most recently, in the Aristotelian notion of Necessity. During my last process (Gutter Gate, 2011) this notion of necessity came to the forefront of the work as I began to wonder how abstraction could be necessary. What is necessary about shape, color or line and how can we define what “happens” throughout the course of a piece without being able to locate the “defining event?” I became disinterested in describing the narrative as non-linear. I felt like I was poaching this term from an historical and theoretical languaging tradition which said very little about my work and the kind of narrative I was interested in pursuing. Structurally, Gutter Gate (our last piece) dealt in a series of chaotic groupings that referenced certain interpersonal conflicts and milestones but never claimed them. It was a challenge to extend beyond and develop these “meaning” moments and not rest on the thorny defense that it’s “non-linear.”

We were also developing a rigorous movement language which kept pointing to a specific kind of time, a thinking kind of time. To generate material, we located the genitals, lower intestines and the heart and began practicing a series of Body Mind Centering exercises that focused on moving from these singular places. We also located skin and bone as vibrant and critical initiating points for the movement and I noticed how muscle and bone also seemed to cantilever off of these organs. It was about showing the body working hard, working something out on stage. You could see the body and the mind strategizing. A more intentional kind of time feels like you can see me, the maker, working. The viewer is able to see the necessity in the timing because the action of learning is related to a task. The “doing” or learning body replaces the performing body.

Treading between a cooler aesthetic and a hotter emotional inclination, my thinking about content has shifted for the new group work I am researching. How do I locate the “event” or cause of a particular dramatic action without falling into a kind of reasonable logic that will negate the structural risks I want to take? Instead, I want these “conceptual” or more emotionally resonant moments to shift the work structurally. Making it less about what the content is, and more about how its timbre can impact the formal logic of the work. I want the compositional integrity to be mapped by an abstract understanding of content and its ability to willfully attend to structure and resist being taken over by its conceptual or more “meaningful” tendencies. The “event” or defining moment, that some might read as content will be used as a tool or texture rather than defining narrative hook of the work.

Is this just a slipperiness on my part not to claim the content or “it” of the work? I am also curious about the whys and whats to sticking by the form and how that is in some ways also thorny. That self consciousness almost makes me want to curtail meaning and employ abstraction for loss of control or moreover to avoid interpretation. Hasn’t that been the role of post modernism over the last fifty years anyway? To say that the distinction between form and content is an illusion?

–Juliana May, Movement Research 2011 Artist in Residence

Gutter Gate excerpt

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