My work unfolds slowly and with rigour. A project usually has a life-cycle of two years or more, during which time performances, workshops, writing, and the performance of the everyday (integrating performance research into day-to-day living and social interactions) unfold together. Side-projects grow out of this work, and sometimes develop a life of their own. I like to present work when it is time to do so, sometimes in traditional theatre or gallery settings, sometimes to smaller audiences in less traditional venues.
I value liveness and the transformative potential of being-in-a-room/space together, and so use digital media very very sparingly–more since the advent of covid, but my practice remains firmly rooted in close, in-person performative encounters. As a choreographer, I seek to unsettle ways that spaces, social as well as psychic and natural and super-natural, are inscribed by habits of thinking and embodying reality. I see dance art as a way of learning to move with more freedom and dance artists as both antennae detecting the forces of unfreedom that press upon us, and liberators capable of pointing the way to freer modes of being, by embodying themselves other-wise than how the forces of normalization dictate. I work with myself as a performer with this ideal in mind, even when I fail to achieve it. And it is this ideal that I seek to empower and recognize and affirm in the people with the wonderful people with whom I gratefully collaborate–dancers, thinkers, audience members, and presenters.
Animal and the Agon
Interdisciplinary, Dance-Based Performance. Longitudinal Study.
Initial Performance Research: May, 2019-August 2019.
Phase 2: March 2021 and ongoing.
Directed/conceived by Kristen Lewis. In collaboration with performers/dance artists Lucas Wilson-Bilbro and Avery Smith.
Work-in-Progress showings: August 24, 2019: Victoria, B.C. & October 21, 2019, The Dance Centre, Vancouver, B.C.
In pursuit of some answers to the question: why do ‘we’ (a Western ‘we’) abhor nature?, this project examines the roots of the “flight from nature” in the common experience of being subject to a mother, and indeed, to matter itself.
“Animal and the Agon” is an experiment in how words and concepts inform the body’s trajectories through space and history, and how the body/ies’ trajectories in turn create new conceptual apparatus, including new modes of being-in language–shaping a future that is truly new.
Agon and the Animal is, at its heart, an invitation to an adventure, unfolding on the precipices of ever-new thresholds, where performing bodies discover, through the process of their own perpetual becoming, emergent truths about the possibilities of love, friendship and community built on the ashes of a culture with a deeply troubled, often denied relationship to maternity, to matter, and to nature.
The research for this work began in the late spring of 2019 in Vancouver, and unfolded through time together in the studio moving to a verbal/conceptual score Kristen created based on deep theoretical reflection, reading, writing, and personal solo-improvisational dance work. The work deepened through a 4-day residency in Victoria, B.C. in August 2019, and continues.
This work resumed in March 2021, thanks to a grant from the Dance Centre in Vancouver, B.C. and will continue through 2021 and 2022.
This is an interdisciplinary exploration of touch as a lost but still discoverable potential, under threat as never before. In collaboration with the natural world.
Expected first performances: summer 2021.
The Silence and the Voice/The Hysteria of the Cave
Sourcing insights from embodied anatomy (especially the work of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen on the anatomy of the vocal mechanism, and on the embodiment of embryology), this project investigates the relations between voice and silence, movement and space, desire and its absence and how bodies both inform and are informed by these. What happens when silence is disappeared under the weight of a massive, world-wide scream? Who will speak then?
Performances: Work-in-progress showings are ongoing, with extremely small audiences. Public performances to appear circa fall 2021.
“And the one nearest the back of the cave, the one with the heaviest chains, the one bound with the strongest fascination to the depths of that crypt, will be so strongly persuaded that the shenanigans of the other are the truth that he will lose all senses that the ‘others’ pretend still to control. But at this point in the drama, as quite often in fact, it is hard to decide who is weaving the web of illusion and who is caught in it.” (Luce Irigaray, The Speculum of the Other Woman at pp. 263-264)
It, the cave, will keep you there forever, if you let it, or so the rumours have led one to believe. It may be that, in fact (an inaccessible, unverifiable fact, but still) there are no chains, really none at all, that bind you there. It is just that you construe it as such, in order not to have to admit to loving the cave as much as you do, to not wanting, really ever, to leave.