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Artist Statement

Energy, Form and Transformation

Photo by Ashley Faiman

I believe in the power of the moving body. As movement spills from my physical form, an innate wisdom arises which affords me the opportunity to connect to the deeper and subtler layers of existence. Through constant physical questioning and practice, I have the ability to know more. For me, the dance studio is a playground for exploration where I am introduced to the stranger that is the unmade dance and given the opportunity to get to know it. 

Dance, to me, is magic and as such; dancers are magicians who are in the business of continuous transformation. Through dance, we are capable of being deeply rooted in our physical, emotional and spiritual bodies. In this way, we are artists of untapped, dormant potential becoming that which we already are. I am inspired by the early modern dance philosophies of artists such as Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis with regards to radical movement reform, and how in many ways, those ideas are still very much relevant today.

I am fascinated by Yogic philosophy, energy systems of the body, ritual, and their relevance in contemporary dance. The practice of yoga has had a profound impact on me as a dancer and artist, serving as a new lens and conceptual framework that I have applied to my creative work. Through my creative work I explore the tantra yogic model of embodiment: the body is the key to transcendence; and the yogic perspective of tapas: the heat or resistance required for physical, mental, and spiritual transformation. I specify the tantra perspective of embodiment because it emphasizes the importance and uniqueness of the individual. This model maintains that the body is the means through which transformation can occur. In tantra, the body is the key to achieving one’s fullest potential, aligning this perspective with dance and performance because in dance, the body is the means for artistic and personal expression. Using discomfort as a catalyst for artistic growth, I dance and make dances in the hope of opening up mediums between audience and performer through choreographic tension.

Dance engages, questions, makes sense of, and expands our understanding of how we can energetically and artistically confront the meaning of existence. I believe that dance employs the physical plane of existence and form, as well as the energetic plane of what we cannot see, but know exists. In this way, dance is important because it is a constant reminder of embracing uncertainty in a way that expands all participants sense of self through the vehicle of the body, in relation to the universe. It is the meeting of essence and form, where dance brings energy to one’s essence, allowing that essence to come into form manifest through choreography.

The challenge in creating through the medium of dance is that it is a constant negotiation in practicing the art of engaging change. This notion is both exciting and terrifying to me, and I suppose it is why I continue to create. Perhaps creating through the medium of dance is a way for me to confront my own fears, a practice in surrendering to the unknown of making art in a form that utilizes the body as the medium for creation. 

Nartaka Atman
~the self is the dancer
— Shiva Sutras