EM PAPINEAU + SOFIA ENGELMAN // dance and performance
We are fascinated by the edges. And not so much the center. The edge of the frame. The edge of our own knowing, capacity, ideas, and capability. What is beyond the perceived perimeter?
Our dances are full on dyke partnering. They are effortful and fleshy. They destabilize the binaries between audience + performer and practice + performance.
We do not make dances just for dancers. We create performances with multiple entryways through embodied humor, verbal communication, and engagement of space to reach audiences of many
Our practice is grounded in queer anti-capitalist choreographic methodologies of mess, dis/re-orientation, futurity, failure, and transparency/realness. A movement vocabulary born from collaborative inquiries of “what if”--a world-making and habit-breaking strategy--combines physical effort and care-taking. We are joined by campy, disruptive object partners which have included a blue kiddie pool, gold confetti, 30 gallons of gumballs, lemons, and fake paper cash.
We are compulsive improvisers. Our works, which contain both set and improvised material, always leave space for deliberate tangents and active choice-making throughout. In performance, transparency of intent, structure, and method are honored through conversation with tech personnel, moments left in-process, and a practice of “unsilencing” which undermines the formality of performance by mobilizing the voice and instigating in-the-moment communication, boundary-setting, and need-stating. We understand transparency as a practice of care.
We are interested in humor, but not in making a joke of ourselves.
We place ourselves in the creative lineages of Kathleen Hermesdorf, Bebe Miller, Nancy Stark Smith, Lisa Nelson, Jeanine Durning, Jennifer Monson + DD Dorvillier, Fred Herko, Yvonne Rainer, Angie Hauser + Chris Aiken, Ishmael Houston-Jones + Fred Holland, Eleo Pomare, Steve Paxton, Robert Rauschenberg, and Xan Burley + Alex Springer.
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Image Description: Em and Sofia are seen in movement at the Judson Church. Sofia is behind Em with both of her hands underneath Em’s thighs helping to lift them off the ground. Em is mid air in a seated position, with their two arms outstretched in front of themselves. Both Em and Sofia are wearing navy blue pants with white stripes running down the sides; Sofia has a purple top on and Em has a red t-shirt with a yellow and blue vest over top. They are seen on a wooden floor with a row of empty folding chairs behind them. photo © David Gonsier