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Courtney Mackedanz

 

 

My work highlights thesimilarities between big and small--between whathappens on the bus and what happens on the news. With a jovial spirit and bullish ambition, my work takes on questions of meaning in both art and the human endeavor. My performances affirm that there is meaning in the world, even if someone like the artist must construct it. 

I make movement-based performances that complicate the distinction between visual art and dance. I have been directing a four-person ensemble entitled, The Meaning of ?Maybe? Project since the Fall of 2012. Our process has been to have weekly rehearsals that reflect my playful, yet serious investment in cultivating meaning through uncertainty in the process of developing a work of art: 

First, I provide prompts to generate the material that will evolve through a series of changes to become our final piece. This could be seen as the posing of a question. (I ask the ensemble: How can your body move ? maybe??) 

Second, the members of the ensemble respond; each uniquely. The most important thing to note is that my only rule in this portion of the process is that ensemble members ONLY do things that they would love to do. This is important because the world is already too full of people who are not doing exactly what they love to do and I believe the audience may feel a fuller version of their life when they see us filling up our lives with gestures we love to perform. (Jana will repeatedly stand up, and then slouch back down to the floor. Joshua will try to shake his head ?yes? and ?no at the same time.)

Third, we look back on what we have made in response to the prompts and decide what elements we would like to cultivate. We call this portion of the process ?gleaning? and for us it is a celebration of affirmation. We keep what is interesting and allow the less interesting to naturally fall away. (I ask Jais and Johanna to attempt to stand up and slouch down repeatedly while shaking her head ?yes? and ?no?.)

Then, we ?pivot? the work.The ?pivot? is an extremely important part of our process. It is how we breathe additional life into the work; how we amplify the color, accelerate the tempo, and add humor to construct meaning and cultivate the work we wish to share. (I will ask Jais and Johanna to hold hands while they stand up and fall repeatedly, while shaking their heads ?yes? and ?no?. I will then ask Jana and Joshua to present an overlapping dialogue about watching their friends struggle to decide whether to get married.) Through the ?pivot? process, it is possible for a different kind of sense to be made, for meaning to accumulate more specifically. 

Finally, we rehearse the piece so that we can know it intimately before presenting the outcome to the audience. (The ensemble presents what we made together while I witness the final execution from the back of the room.) It is in this part of the process that the force of collaboration and honor of being an artist astounds me. (The audience always finishes the piece.)

 

Resident year: 
2013
Cohort Group: 
Artist Resident