Dancing, with/as nature and against the grain.

K. Lewis (performance): “Homo Academicus, Shall We Dance? Dance Improvisation, New Materialism, and new activities of knowledge production.” University of Victoria Campus, May 2020.
“As counter-training, dance improvisation has the potential to undo and remake the ways people acculturated in mainstream Western environments (often unconsciously) approach the question of the ‘nature/culture’ divide.” Excerpt from the paper by the same title, by K. Lewis, that accompanied the performance, in fulfilment of the requirements for Dr. Stephen Garlick’s graduate seminar in social theory.

I am a dance artist.

My rigorous interdisciplinary practice includes a variety of activities, all of which are sourced from and return to dance as the fundamental discipline that orders my art practice and life. My practices include performance, performance-creation, dance improvisation as/and embodied theorizing, choreography, teaching, and writing.

In recent years, my dance work has turned to social, political, and legal theory as primary inputs through which to interrogate the relation of movement and gesture to the making and unmaking of worlds. These interests have joined with the prior work I did over the course of an intensive, rich, multi-year collaboration with the elder (and my dear friend) David Westcott, from 2010 to 2017, integrating insights from the Lakota-Cree ceremonial tradition into performance work through the production company we founded together, Walking Bear Productions. Since 2018, much of my work has appeared in academic settings (in dialogue with critical theory, legal theory, and critical studies in improvisation), as a way of bridging between the world of social theory and the practices of radical embodiment I put in practice in my choreographic work. I collaborate regularly with critical legal scholar Dr. Sara Ramshaw (see here, for instance) and with Dr. Emile Fromet de Rosnay, critical theorist with research interests in gesture, voice and film (see some of our work on the French studies scholar, literary critic, and writer Pierre-Luc Landry’s “aggregateur indiscipline” site, here).

I maintain a dialogue with the contemporary dance milieu and am more and more committed to working with dance artists with whom I share an affinity–this means a feel for dance as performance, a taste for undoing the habits of the usual training, and a certain sense of the way sacrifice and discipline balance with surrender and letting go to generate performative experiences whose value is measured not by the number of audience members who “see the show,” but by the intensity with which our work as performers facilitates new modes of perception in the people we are honored to call “audience.” In 2019, I engaged in a performance research project with Vancouver-based dance artists Lucas Wilson-Bilbro and Avery Smith, resulting in work-in-progress showings at both The Dance Centre (Vancouver, B.C.) and at the University of Victoria, B.C.

I see dance as a practice of justice, and performance-creation and dissemination as ways of positing modes of being-otherwise than according to the profound forces of normalization that condition the social and the political (and hence also the capacity for what might be called the spiritual) in our devastatingly precarious but even-still rich-with-potential present. I see dance art as a site to enact practices of genuine freedom.

“Falling.” Text and Performance: Kristen Lewis. Film: Loumille Metros.

https://vimeo.com/490054090/e06f00e71f?fbclid=IwAR0Y93k92aIo0dCPY7ejMtgAjAidAZEpL5iVbBG1XpIBhS9k69xUQmFp9j4

My first performance appeared at the Atlantic Fringe Festival in 2002, an experimental two-person dance play whose positive critical reception by performance art scholar Thomas Taylor set me on the path to a life in experimental, dance-based performance. I have since followed the current of my performative impulse through labyrinthine paths leading me through the interstices between disciplinary worlds. Many performances have resulted (past performances here), and continue to result (upcoming projects here.)

https://vimeo.com/446988530/e59ce0d8f2

K.Lewis Performance: Summary of Activities (See also: K. Lewis Performance)

Dance Improvisation and embodied theorizing as a fundamental discipline and way of life.

Dance/performance works: creation and performance.

Thinking/Writing/Reading at the intersection of theory, art, law, and religion.

Performance art works: site specific, on the ever-evolving stage of life.

Embodied Approaches to Academic Research: ongoing investigations into how dance can help thinking remember its body.

Law as a medium for performance/Performance as a medium for embodied legal reasoning: JD (University of Victoria Faculty of Law), class of 2020. LLM Candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School. Thesis: “Law and Indigenous Religion–Theorizing a Complex Relationship.”

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