Papineau - Engelman MR 10-08-18 low -188

Artist Statement

We make dances that are grounded in our material; our flesh, the air, our love, the spaces we dance and live in. Every performance--even proscenium or black box--is site-specific, collaborating with the particular architecture of the space to home, be with, and ground the work in a sense of realness. We consider space an active collaborator, shifting each iteration of a work on tour to be in conversation with the particular architecture of the site. We don’t just mean spacing shifts; this approach consists of an in depth re-working of any and all elements of a choreography to utilize, honor, and listen to that which makes the space it will occupy remarkable. Site-specificity is an act of radical listening, (land) acknowledgment, and collaboration that transcends animacy. It is a philosophy and never requires a beautiful outdoor landscape. This dedication to collaboration with the inanimate continues into our work with objects. We love serious messes and treat every object we introduce into process and performance as essential,

integrated, autonomous entities. In the past, these architectural and object dance-making partners have included a deep window sill, a kiddie pool overflowing with fake money shining from gold confetti, five gallons of gumballs, entrances and exits, a balcony, and inflatable chairs.

Our queer relationship often manifests visibly in our choreographies; it presents itself not as a narrative so much as a feeling, a state of being, a world, and a logic. Our work creates and requires a particular state of togetherness through active negotiation, hopeless dependency, and acts of trust and survival. A movement vocabulary born from collaborative inquiries of “what if”--a world-making and habit-breaking strategy--combines physical impact, heroics, and care-taking. Our romantic partnership provides a foundation of trust, support, and knowing which enables us to safely meet each other on the edge.

Transparency of intent, structure, and method are honored through conversation with tech personnel, moments in-process, and a practice of “unsilencing” which mobilizes the voice and instigates communication, boundary-setting, need-stating, and other acts of verbalized care. We shape structures, expectations, and systems (the building of a phrase, a spatial pattern, the assumption that this duet is just performed by two, that we are going to dance, and that the audience is to sit in one place) and then deconstruct or abandon them; we engage in a practice of queer world making and queer world reinvention. We shape unstable, intimate places through re-orientation and disorientation of the body, role and relationship, images, words, and objects.

We make space for effort and oddities. We are interested in humor, but not in making a joke of ourselves.

Together, we have committed to giving our dances whatever they need and want.

We place ourselves in the creative lineage of Jennifer Monson, DD Dorvillier, Lisa Nelson, Jeanine Durning, Nancy Stark Smith, Fred Herko, Bebe Miller, Yvonne Rainer (whom our cat is named after), Eleo Pomare, and Kathleen Hermesdorf.

Read an interview:

Stance on Dance

The Dance Complex blog

photo © David Gonsier