Choreography

Artistic Statement

When was the last time you felt wholly alive in your body? When every fiber of your thinking, moving, breathing being was engaged in an activity? My choreography animates unapologetic embodiment and engaged artistic flow states. It embraces radical acceptance of somatic listening.

Unfortunately, there are multiple barriers to this state of being, including the self-objectification that emerges when movers are told that their body and mind are separate, that this separate body is not good enough, that this separate body cannot be trusted, and that this separate body exists as an object for consumption. The violence underscoring these attacks lies in the truth that mind and body are not separate. When someone devalues another human’s body, they indeed devalue and dehumanize the person themselves.

These attacks on embodiment are not equal. Women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, different abled persons, and other marginalized communities continue to be objectified and dehumanized by dominant discourses despite heroic resistance and resilience. My work stands in ever-evolving allyship with these communities and in relationship to my positionality as a mixed-race, cis-woman.


***Photo credits to BLiu Studio and Elle Wildhagen***

Selection of Works

Waters to Waters: Between Yu & Flow. This 20-minute choreography for ten dancers dives below the surface of optimal human experience to swim in the textures, conditions, and ethics of flow and yu. Featuring interactive digital artwork by Mingyong Cheng, this work explores elements of intention, curiosity, bliss, distraction, collective engagement, joy, space, and suspension of time that characterize paths of yu and states of flow.

Thought-Body Work: Bliss. Rooted in aesthetics of pleasure and curiosity, "Thought-Body Work: Bliss,"paves a rich and sensuous journey towards awakening empathy and embodied flow states. As dancers attune sensitively to the environment and sharpen their seven non-visual senses, they strengthen their receptors to intuit and interact with the environment, build embodied foundations for connection and community, and envelop themselves in the pleasure of listening to the complexity of our collective thought-body.

Freedom Dances. Co-created with Alyah Baker and Amanda Edwards, this piece was inspired by Jessica Marie Johnson’s concept of freedom as a verb, or a series of actions that one chooses and enacts throughout their life. We first archived the practices of freedom of sixteen black women who broke ground in the ballet world. Propelled by their stories, we explore our own paths through text and movement before coming together to celebrate and reflect upon the ways our individual journeys of freedom have brought us together.


~~~This piece was commissioned by the American Dance Festival and Nasher Art Museum to be a part of the Carrie Mae Weem's RESIST COVID / TAKE 6! exhibit~~~

Blurring the Lines: Finding Collective Resonance During COVID-19. Created with undergraduates at Duke University, this piece explores the boundaries between classical ballet and contemporary styles and builds upon our classroom journey to find a collective way of being, dancing, and breathing when we are separated by physical distance.


~~~More information available in this linked article by Duke Arts Weekly~~~

Reimagining the Sylph. As a prelude to an extended quarantine, this early 2020 work begins to reimagine classical ballet and western classical music in the context of COVID-19. The piece draws upon a sense of doors simultaneously opening and closing and the peaceful, melancholic, and surely unsure undertones of Dvorak's American Quartet Movement 2, played by the Ciompi Quartet.


~~~This work was commissioned by the Ciompi Quartet~~~

Thought-Body Work: Renasense. In a never-ending cycle, the mind-body spirals through phases of heaviness, groundedness, gathering, releasing, and rebirth as it evolves towards new modes of expression. The muscles themselves can unfold like blooming flowers but they can also collapse in on themselves, get twisted, and weigh down as they refuse to become unstuck. Are these moments a failure to keep the flow of the rebirth cycle going? Or are they a necessary part of the journey, a human manifestation of the wet, crumpled wings of a butterfly before first flight? Thought-Body Work: Renasense explores a journey of evolving out of this heavy place, of finding movement after stillness, of cycling through the rebirth cycle alongside the butterflies, caterpillars, and larvae of the world.

Becoming Home. The emergence, excavation, and exchange between {2-dimensionality, lines, non-life, deserts, machines, atomism, stasis, external locus of control, top-down processing, dualism} and {3-dimensionality, circles, life, water, animism, holism, movement, internal locus of control, collective processing, thought body}. Three dancers journey away from the mechanism, dualism, and atomism that has dominated Western culture since the Industrial Age on unique, intertwining journeys that culminate in a realization of the fullness of their living, breathing, three-dimensional, watery selves.

Apeek. A brief videodance self-portrait exploring identity, fluidity, porous growth, and grounding during the COVID-19 quarantine.

Thought-Body Work: Shimmer. A site-specific work that reimagines the habitual movement patterns at a bar in North Carolina. The work christens the dance floor as patrons arrive with the energy of women who have claimed themselves as the subjects, the doers of the world, rather than, objects, the things of the world on which subjects act.

All Good People. A dance film exploring the seemingly insurmountable political, social, and economic challenges that rose to greater heights after the 2016 election. The piece mourns the present violence against BIPOC communities, women, LGBTQ+ identified individuals, and undocumented Americans as it calls us to come together with our heavy and resilient hearts to protect those who are threatened by a reversal of progress.

Please direct all communication to courtneykristenliu@gmail.com.