Artist Statement

As an artist, I possess a deeply rooted interest in transforming the mundane, and in actively engaging and transporting an audience into and out of varied feeling states, mindscapes, and worlds both individually and communally experienced, to alter both our perception of the world around us and our role in it. In a sense, I view my work as an attempt to re-marry the highly segregated arts, in order to realize powerful and communal, ritual, similar to that of pre-industrialized, pre-Christian culture, in an effort to ultimately reintegrate society into a holistic way of being. Another layer of my work quite simply attempts to encourage increased awareness in those that partake of, or participate in it.

 

My inroad to this, my home-base is dance. This recognition of dance as a home base makes sense to me in that movement, the core of dance, is quite literally life. Motion signifies change, progression, and time. The opposite of movement is death. Dance is a celebration of this duality of life and death. In Hindu and Buddhist thought this is seen as a cycle or circle called samsara. The word choreography comes to us from the Greek χορειο (choreo), dance, which is believed to have come from the Greek κύκλος (circle or cycle), and γραφία (graphy), to draw/write. Perhaps this is coincidence, however I find it fascinating that those cultures that value dance, in that it adds an invaluable element to societal functioning, possess a deeper and more profound understanding of this cycle of life and death as well as a heightened awareness of the cause and effect nature of reality, and therefore their place and role in that reality.

 

Above all I value holism and the interconnectedness of life throughout our world and our universe. Yet, as I recognize our need to see things in dualistic terms so that we may better understand the world around us, this subject/object duality, a mere tool, should not be what defines us. Rather, in experiencing that which we seemingly are not, we gain a better understanding of what we are and what we share with everyone/everything beyond our perceptions of self. This part/whole duality from a Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies (LBMS) perspective forms the core of my belief system as an artist, and as an educator.

 

We are creators and destroyers of worlds, both individual and collective, learning right from wrong as we build up and break down. As the Buddha once said, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we create the world.” (The Dhammapada)

 

We all have this innate power within us, not just artists and politicians. It is this that I most wish to impart through my art, the potential that rests in all of us to create our own existence positive or negative and our inherent need to share those worlds we create with others. I see myself, and my students as actively engaged participants in this holistic role of creator/destroyer, both in the artistry of creating dances and in the magic of conjuring form where before there was none. This act of creating and destroying worlds also extends to my passion for building and fortifying communities in conflict and in need of transformation specifically through dance and more generally through motion.

 

Lest we forget, these worlds we create are built upon the realms of those who came before us. Like the layers of an ancient city built up over and over since time long forgotten, we can ignore neither our connection to, nor the influence we draw from, these ancestral layers. Not only is my lineage as a dancer apparent in my movement choices, but it is also honored through those choices. And so, the ritual of dance for me is a way to give thanks to those whose footsteps I follow in and to offer balance in a world that is oftentimes so dangerously out of balance.

 

My current research interests reflect these truths as I seek to understand dance as an agent of community building. Specifically, I am interested in the role of dance in conflict transformation and peacebuilding; and how immersive, interactive site-specific work can build a localized and immediate sense of community. Additionally, I am engaged in exploring the role of LMA in developing a universal, pedagogical basis for movement education outside the context of style or genre, the foundation of which specific dance forms (i.e. ballet, modern, jazz, tap, etc.) may rest upon.  

© 2019 by Curtis Stedge.

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