MELT Reading Groups

7pm on Thursdays July 21, 28 and August 11

Please note the *new location*:
Abrons Arts Center, Studio G05
466 Grand St. (at Pitt St.)
Suggested donation $3, open to the public

MELT Reading Groups provide an opportunity to gather socially to discuss critical issues that speak to the work and practices of contemporary dance and movement-based artists. The reading groups are free and are led by various writers, artists and seminal thinkers in our field. Each reading group is anchored by a text or texts made available in advance. Check the website for details and to download readings. RSVP encouraged, space is limited.

July 21 with Biba Bell

Affect and Environs: to live is to leave traces


This reading group triangulates three poetic though potentially unrelated texts. First, a manifesto of the tropical museum that intervenes against a history of South American colonialism in thought, aesthetics, embodied practice, and arts real estate. Second, a series of accounts negotiating the thickness of forces, affects, and sense that cluster out and about our everyday lives. Lastly, and looping back to the first, we encounter an architectural analysis framing the domestic stage (Adolf Loos against Le Corbusier) with an eye turned towards interiority, surface, fashion, and theatricality, most significantly an exuberant dwelling of Josephine Baker.

Pablo León de la Barra, "Novo Museo Tropical." In Choreographing Exhibitions, ed. Matthieu Copeland. Dijon: Les Presses Du Reel, 2014 (download PDF)
Kathleen Stewart, "Atmospheric Attunements." Rubric Issue 1 (2010): 2-14 (download PDF)
Beatriz Columina, "The Split Wall: Domestic Voyeurism." In Sexuality and Space: Princeton Papers on Architecture, ed. Beatriz Columina. Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996 (download PDF)

Biba Bell (b. 1976, Sebastopol) is a writer, dancer, and choreographer based in Detroit. She earned her Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University. Bell's performance work has most recently been seen at Bas Fisher Invitational (Miami), the Kunstlerhaus (Bremen, Germany), the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the Cranbrook Museum of Art, and in a Mies van der Rohe apartment in Detroit's Lafayette Park. She will be showing an evening of work at JACK in Brooklyn (July 14-16) combining her recent body of work considering dance through an affective, archi-historic lens of modernism and domesticity. Bell was a 2015 DAAD guest professor of Experimental Performance at the University of the Arts (Hochschule für Künste) in Bremen, Germany, and she is an Assistant Professor in the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University in Detroit.

July 28 with Myriam Van Imschoot

Interview affairs with Steve Paxton and Lisa Nelson - "Listening" Group


Myriam Van Imschoot proposes her upcoming interview publication Conversations in Vermont as a springboard into a discussion about the interview as a tool to mine artistic thought, the legacies of Judson Dance Theater (also in respect to Neo-Judson) and the potential of dialogic formats for collaborative historical re/construction. This “listening” group constitutes the first public moment to test out research and interview materials as part of an interview publication under construction. Van Imschoot has been editing a body of interviews with two prolific American artists whose careers often intertwined and have been influencing generations of dance makers across the globe: Lisa Nelson and Steve Paxton. These interviews grew, over the years, into a mind-affair unique of its kind, and however raw and open, are ready to meet a public's ear.

Preparatory Listening:
Interview with Lisa Nelson on The Tuning Score (67'21"), January 26th, 2003. (click for link)
More interviews on Oral Site (click for link)

Belgian artist Myriam Van Imschoot has been active in the fields of contemporary dance and performance for two decades under various and often mistaken identities. After her engagement with dance theory, criticism and history and a devoted practice as an artistic collaborator and dramaturge to many a choreographer, she shifted to making her own artistic work in 2006, using the voice as her main medium in video, performance and sound installation. She's interested in the cracks in modernity as a failed project and often shows a stubborn desire to communicate even when acts of transmission seem doomed. Myriam is a founding member of Sarma, and runs, within this organization, a publishing house for digital artist publications ( that embrace orality. She is the missing half of a sound poetry duo with Marcus Bergner (Arf Arf), with whom she performs on July 8 at Spectacle Theater, Williamsburg, NY.

August 11 with Tara Willis

to do what we have made


What race and gender boundaries are re-authored in claiming authorship of choreography? What embodied and social limits do freedom and choice-making in improvisation conceal? What is the complex choreography of willing subjects and willful ones? The readings by Anthea Kraut, Danielle Goldman, and Sarah Ahmed offer different lenses onto the structures of agency and action built into the sinews of our bodies, our performance practices, our social worlds.

Anthea Kraut, Choreographing Copyright: 2-4 (download PDF)
Danielle Goldman, I Want to Be Ready: pp. 3-9(download PDF)
Sarah Ahmed, "A Willfulness Archive": the short section entitled "Becoming Background"(download PDF)

Tara Aisha Willis is a dance artist and PhD candidate in Performance Studies, NYU, where she researches black experimentation in contemporary dance. She was Assistant Editor for TDR, is a member of Women & Performance's editorial collective, and co-editor with Thomas F. DeFrantz of a special issue of The Black Scholar entitled "Black Moves: New Research in Black Dance Studies." Her writing appears in the Movement Research Performance Journal, The Brooklyn Rail, Women & Performance, and TDR. In 2015–16 she’s danced for Kim Brandt, Megan Byrne, Sarah A.O. Rosner, and Anna Sperber. She is currently a Chez Bushwick artist-in-residence and her choreography has been shown at Movement Research at Judson Church, BAX, Roulette, THROW, Dixon Place, The Painting Center, and AUNTS. She was a co-curator of the Movement Research Festival Spring 2016: Hand Written Note(s), and is Movement Research's Coordinator of Diversity Initiatives.

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