Dancing, with/as nature and against the grain.

November 24-28: Chora: Graphia (Reverberations) @ Dance in Vancouver 13th Biennial

Meditating on the roots of the word “choreography” in the Greek word for space (chora) and writing (graphia), Chora: Graphia sets in motion an improvisational practice of shared writing in response to the shows on offer at Dance in Vancouver 2021. I will be on hand at select shows, with collaborator Avery Smith, over the course of the festival, inviting audiences to reflect, in brief, anonymous written notes on old-school index card, on the shows. The results of this practice will be posted in physicalized form in the Dance Centre (in the foyer, in the lobby, and in the Scotiabank alcove), creating an evolving record that speaks to the surprising, unplanned networks of connections—we might call these connective tissues—between the shows, between audience’s own lived, embodied realities in this moment, and between resonances that the space itself awakens between us and the wider world.

In connection with “Chora: Graphia (Reverberations)”, we will be working with Leisa Shelton Campbell and the other Melbourne-based artists bringing the work “Scribe” to the festival—we will reinscribe and translate the writing generated by “Scribe” alongside the Chora: Graphia texts, creating a living archive that speaks through many and varied voices about what DIV has awakened in audiences.

Kristen will transform this living archive into a published article that records what artists, audiences, and the space itself has written into being during this time together. Chora: Graphia, working in resonance with Scribe, seeks to give voice to a multiplicity of perspectives, to complicate usual notions of who is and is not an authority on a work, and, mostly, to listen, deeply, to voices that, too often, stay silent after the show.

Find out more here, and get tickets for some amazing dance work: https://thedancecentre.ca/event/dance-in-vancouver-2021/

Recent: “Who is This: Bodies, Fields, and Strangers: A meeting.” July 26 @ 6pm PDT/9pm EDT.

Dance Artists from coast to coast were asked to perform a score: talk to a subject, a stranger or close, 4 times for 1 hour. Make a dance. This zoom meeting presented the results. With dance artists: Avery Amith (Vancouver), Jamie Robinson (Vancouver), Mairi Greig (Toronto), and Jacinte Armstrong (Halifax).

Dance Artists (Avery Smith, Kristen Lewis, Mairi Greig, Jacinte Armstrong, and Jamie Robinson) share results of “Who is This” with online audience members from as far afield as Chicago, Salt Spring Island, and the Phillippines.
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.

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 writing, performance, performance-creation, dance improvisation as/and embodied theorizing, choreography, teaching, and writing.

My work moves between worlds and ways of knowing them, resulting in the creation of interdisciplinary performance events, writing, and encounters that articulate multiple ways of knowing, with dance as the ground I always return to, and writing as the bridge between that ground and communicative acts.

Though my creative work grows in the fertile soil of solitary practice, deep collaboration is central to what I do. I love uncovering new kinaesthetic territory together in collaboration with dance artists with whom I share an affinity. My affinities include: 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 creative experiences whose value is measured not by the number of audience members who “see the show,” but by the intensity with which our work facilitates new modes of perception in the people we are honored to call “audience.”

Since 2018, my work has appeared regularly in academic settings (in dialogue with social theory, legal theory, and critical studies in improvisation), giving me space to experiment with ways to bridge theory with the practices of radical embodiment that are at the heart of my performance work. I collaborate regularly with critical legal scholar Dr. Sara Ramshaw (see here, for instance) and with Dr. Emile Fromet de Rosnay, critical theorist and experimental film-maker, 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). 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, beginning in 2010, integrating insights from the Lakota-Cree ceremonial tradition into performance work through the production company we founded together, Walking Bear Productions.

Law is one of the mediums I work through, as a dance artist with a law degree, and as a security professional. I see dance as a practice of deep 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.


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.)



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 Research: ongoing investigations into how dance can help thinking remember its body.

Law as a medium for performance/Performance as a medium for embodying more just futures: 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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