Dance and the Museum: Sara Wookey Responds

SaraWookeyPhoto by Guy L'Heureux


1) What are the most potent questions prompted by the recent coming together of dance and the visual arts?

How does the socio-spatial context of the museum support the needs of dance? What can dance offer the visual arts? Where is the voice of the dancer? How might this “coming together” facilitate a shift in the dynamics between (dance) artist and curator?


2) What are the responsibilities and/ or challenges that accompany this interaction? For artists? Curators? Critics or scholars? Institutions?

Dance artists have the opportunity to have a voice in sharing the knowledge that dance produces and growing an interest in dance, and at the same time, to learn from other art forms and cultural contexts.


3) As artists, audiences, and institutions with varied artistic backgrounds come together, on what grounds is it or is it not important to consider disciplinary/ generic boundaries?

Dance can benefit from opening itself up to other disciplines, while also remaining in touch with its own history. In other words, when I look back to the highly inter-disciplinary approach of the late 60’s/ early 70’s, I realize that although dance branched out, it also seems to have retreated back. What happened to the inter-disciplinary interest in dance? Perhaps this is a moment to capture that spirit again but through the will and persistence of the artists, not—solely—of the institution.


4) What might the meeting of dance and visual art at this time herald or reflect? Or, why is this happening now? What possibilities might it open for the future?

The why is it happening now can only be understood in retrospect. Now is the time to be in the process of the “meeting”. It is one big experiment. Or, if you will, like a rehearsal for something the outcome of which no one knows.  A time for dance artists to see their worth and value—not only within the arts but within society at large—and to step forward into this moment and thrive. It could be a passing phase as art history has proven that there is always a next movement around the bend. Dance is now and that should not be missed.


SARA WOOKEY is a dancer, choreographer and consultant. From 1996-2006 she was based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and established her company Wookey Works and taught at the Amsterdam School for the Arts. Her choreographic work has been presented at Links Hall in Chicago, Hammer Museum, Museum of  Contemporary Art San Diego, REDCAT and the New Museum. Sara holds a  Master of Fine Arts degree from the Department of World Arts and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles and is a founding member of the Choreographers Working Group. She has been published in Performance Arts Journal, Movement Research,  the International Journal for Art & Technology, Itch, and  Performance Club. Sara recently founded reDANCE, a platform for intergenerational transmission in dance, in 2011 and is one of five certified transmitters of Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A (1966). She has been a teaching guest artist and lecturer at the California  Institute for the Arts, Tate Modern and was the research assistant to  Yvonne Rainer at the University of California, Irvine from 2009-2011.  Currently, she is consulting for the Art Program at the Los Angeles  County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and, in her spare time,  calls square dances for private and public events.

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