Grant Recipients Merce Cunningham Award Dance 2017

Linda Austin

Linda Austin
Photo by Jeff Forbes.
  • Choreographer, Performer
  • Born 1954, Medford, OR
  • Lives in Portland, OR
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  • Additional Information
  • pwnw-pdx.org

Words fail me—I leave you to imagine the feelings I am at a loss to express... Much of the past year was spent working on the culminating piece in a body of work collectively titled (Un)Made.This final, third, chapter is called a world, a world, and we are currently in the middle of a 5-night run here at Performance Works. I got the news about the award just when I was wondering how on earth I was going to pay nine dancers and the designers. The FCA award enabled me to keep going on a project I was prepared to postpone or abandon and to pay dancers an hourly rate for rehearsal as well as performance fees... Again, much gratitude and continued reverberations of shocked wonderment one year later at this once-in-a-lifetime honor.

- Linda Austin, December 15, 2017

Biography

Linda Austin is a choreographer and performer who creates both improvisational and highly choreographed works that are non-linear, poetic, and often laced with humor, deploying movement that often disrupts the "dancerly." Her working process brings each performer's vulnerabilities, strengths, accidental awkwardness, and elegance into a web of relationships with other bodies, objects, environments, sounds, and media.

Beginning in 1983, Austin's performance has been presented in New York, Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest. Her work has been shown at Danspace Project; Performance Space 122, The Kitchen, and Movement Research at Judson Church in New York; Movement Research Exchange in Mexico City; and Performance Works NorthWest, Conduit, On the Boards' Northwest New Works, Velocity, and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art's Time Based Art Festival in the Pacific Northwest.

Austin's notable works include The City Dance of Lawrence & Anna Halprin (2008), a site specific group work for the Lovejoy Foundation; A head of time, which was performed both as a group work (2012) and a solo (2015); and the three-phase project (Un)Made (2015-17), consisting of, first, (Un)Made Solo Relay, a solo initiated by Austin, and passed from dancer to dancer telephone-style over six months; second, the last bell rings for you, involving a group of 28 trained and untrained dancers; and third, a world, a world, which was supported by Austin's 2017 Grants to Artists award and pairs the desire for emptiness with the experience of living in a world saturated with and fragmented by hyperactivity, consumerism, violence, and politics.

Austin is the co-founder of Performance Works NorthWest, a catalyst and presenter of projects by both local and visiting artists. She is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (1992), the Oregon Arts Commission (2005), and the Regional Arts & Culture Council (2014). She has participated in residencies at the Djerassi Resdident Artists Program and Robert Wilson's Watermill Center, and her work has been supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and Movement Research. Austin's writing has appeared in The Movement Research Performance JournalTierra Adentro (Mexico), the literary journal FO A RM, and Women, Art & Technology (MIT Press, 2003).

Artist Statement

JOSTLE: I delight in and am provoked by how my dance practices and obsessions jostle against each other, never settling into a singular vision. My work deploys movement, sound, text, visuals, and props to create non-linear, poetic works laced with an eccentric wit, teetering on the edge between immediately apprehensible and resolutely mysterious.

SYSTEMS: Dreaming up systems, prompts, and scores of the same "shape" as the material or questions I am researching is both imperative and fun.

DANCE: Even with scant technical training, and whether a piece involves talking, moving, prancing with pants around ankles, or towing a fur-edged railway tie across the floor—I claim it all as dance.

VIRTUOSITY: Sidestepping the allure of a conventional virtuosity, my work includes the virtuosity of the everyday, the awkward, the inappropriate, as well as other visible and invisible virtuosities that fall both inside and outside what is understood as "dancing."

BODY: Whether I am teasing out a body's history, social or political context; placing the body alongside objects and media; negotiating a relationship with music; or engaged in a poeto-scientific study of movement and perception—all manifestations that arise are consciously articulated though the individual body and agency of each performer.

- December 2016

Linda Austin

Performance still from a work-in-progress showing of FCA-supported a world, a world, at Performance Works NW, Portland, 2017. Performers (l-r): Allie Hankins, Linda Austin, jin camou, keyon gaskin, and Jen Hackworth. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

Excerpt from a work-in-progress showing of FCA-supported a world, a world, at Performance Works NW, Portland, 2017. Performers: claire barrera, jin camou, keyon gaskin, Allie Hankins, and Danielle Ross.

Linda Austin

Performance still from The last bell rings for you: (Un)Made Part 2, at Shaking the Tree Warehouse, Portland, 2016. Performers: Danielle Ross, Allie Hankins, and edward sharp. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

Linda Austin

Performance still from The last bell rings for you: (Un)Made Part 2,at Shaking the Tree Warehouse, Portland, 2016. Performers: Danielle Ross, Dora Gaskill, Noelle Stiles, and Takahiro Yamamoto. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

Excerpt from The last bell rings for you: (Un)Made Part 2, at Shaking the Tree Warehouse, Portland, 2016. Performers: claire barrera, Jin Camou, Nancy Ellis, Jen Hackworth, Allie Hankins, keyon gaskin, Danielle Ross, Noelle Stiles, Takahiro Yamamoto, and eighteen community participants. Video by SNKR Productions.

Linda Austin

Performance still from(Un)Made Part 1: Solo Relay Series, at Performance Works NorthWest, Portland, 2015. Performer: Jin Camou. Photo by Takahiro Yamamoto.

Linda Austin

Performance still from A head of time (solo version),at Performance Works NorthWest, Portland, 2015. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

Linda Austin

Performance still from A head of time (solo version), at Performance Works NorthWest, Portland, 2015. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

Excerpt from Three Trick Pony, at PICA Time Based Arts Festival, Portland, 2013. Video by Karl Lind Films.

Linda Austin

Performance still from A head of time, at Imago Theatre, Portland, 2012. Performers: Linda Austin, Philippe Bronchtein, Jin Camou, Catherine Egan, keyon gaskin, Esther Petrocine, Danielle Ross, and Lu Yim. Photo by Chelsea Petrakis.

Excerpt from A head of time, at Imago Theatre, Portland, 2012. Performers: Linda Austin, Philippe Bronchtein, Jin Camou, Catherine Egan, keyon gaskin, Esther Petrocine, Danielle Ross, and Lu Yim. Video by Karl Lind Films.