Influences

There are, of course, countless people, books, artists, events, teachers, and experiences that have influenced me. Below are just a few examples of influences that continue to have a sustained impact on my work.

I ♥ dancers and teachers Chris Aiken and Angie Hauser. chris & angieI have been lucky enough to work with them a handful of times in different areas:  Contact Improv, composition, improvisation, and performance. In addition to being fabulous dancers, performers, and teachers, Chris and Angie do fascinating work connecting mind stuff (theories, ideas, and concepts) with body stuff (movement and experience). From doing trail maintenance at a retreat center so that that I could bring a different appreciation and sensibility to my dancing, to creating a site-specific Joseph Cornell-style art installation as a way to practice spatial awareness and composition on a totally different scale, working with Chris and Angie asks me to bring everything I am to the work, and to allow the work to change me as it progresses.

carole_maso

Carole Maso, photograph © Dixie Sheridan

I first came across author Carole Maso by accident, browsing through the essay section in the library because essays were what I was into that week. I found Maso’s Break Every Rule and I was hooked. One glance at the first page told me that I needed to take it home. After reading the first essay, I knew I had found something that would change my life—not just my work, but my way of being. As Maso says in her essay Precious, Disappearing Things: “I cannot keep the body out of my writing; it enters the language, transforms the page, imposes its own intelligence. If I have succeeded at all you will hear me breathing.” Maso plays with form, structure, temporality, voice, character, and rhythm, and creates work that defies easy categorization. Seeing her (reading her?) do this has been an invitation for me to do the same on the stage.

imgres

Anne Boggart by Craig Schwartz © 2011 J. Paul Getty Trust

Anne Bogart is one of my first theatre loves. She was the first highly visible female director I was ever even aware of. As a college student, I read about her work and her techniques and became fascinated by this idea that making theatre could be a collaborative process. The model I was accustomed to at that point was “Start with a script, director has a vision, actors execute said vision.” The thought that a group could build a vision together was, frankly, revolutionary. Equally surprising and exciting was the idea that you could create material through the body, through simply being in space and doing things. It blew my mind. No one had ever said I couldn’t do those things, but I had never quite know that they were options either. I won’t say that I’m a Viewpoints devotee, or that I think all of Bogart’s work is absolutely brilliant. I will say, though, that encountering her work has, in large part, made it possible for me to do what I’m doing today.

Below is a (non-exhaustive) list of some other fabulous folks who have been important to me and to the development of my work. Check them out!

Artists:

Joseph Cornell:  American artist known for creating tiny, magical, and intricate installations now known as Cornell boxes.

Tamara de Lempicka: Polish-born Art Deco artist. Known as a passionate, glamorous, and difficult woman, de Lempicka painted bold portraits and group compositions that featured harsh angles and lush curves within the same space.

Authors & poets:

Virginia Woolf: my favorite mistress of ordinary moments.

John Steinbeck and William Saroyan: chroniclers and magicians of the everyday.

Gertrude Stein & William Carlos Williams: major influences on Maso, and so, by proxy, me.

Collaborators & teachers:

Anthony Haigh: my dad and first theatre teacher.

Lee Fogel: a Somatic Movement Educator and a passionate, playful, and intensely thoughtful multidisciplinary artist.

Temple Crocker: a wonderfully grounded educator, performer, and Alexander Technique teacher.

Carla Mann: a fabulous dancer, choreographer, and teacher, and the person who first introduced me to CI when I was her student at Reed College.

imgres