Local Art Walk

Kimberly Gregg

I am the Artistic Director of Practice As Research And Dance Experiments (PARADE), an experimental dance project with present work in improvisation, site-specific performance, and contemporary partnering. I hold a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from California Institute of the Arts, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from California State University Long Beach. I have served on the faculty of Mira Costa College, Rio Hondo College, Santa Ana College, and California State University Pomona.

My creative practice is rooted in theory and propelled by experimentation. It is as much an intellectual investigation as it is a somatic inquiry. ‘Practice as research and dance experiments’ is a philosophy that guides my work. In 2006, I began using the acronym of this philosophy, PARADE, to give a name to the body of work it represents. I am committed to engaging the community in an active dialogue that explores performance theory as an embodied art practice.

My creative research investigates the relationship between choreography and improvisation. I examine improvisation as a method for maintaining excitement within the constructs of the choreographic structure, by providing opportunities for spontaneous choices by the dancers. Conversely, in rehearsal improvisation is often used as a tool to cultivate choreography. Spanning the range of dynamics between them, this interplay embraces the artistic impulse and negotiates between directorial and collective ideals.

My research examines the collaborative process in dance making. As each performer brings unique skills to the creative process, explorations are defined by the participants involved. Using structured improvisations, dancer creativity is sparked to find creative responses to kinetic problems, and their solutions influence the look of the dance. Through this cycle of exploration and direction, movement phrases are culled, eventually defining the vocabulary for the choreography, and the dance structure begins.

Performance cognition is an area of specific focus in my research as an integral facet of solo, partner, and ensemble work in performance. I am interested in the application of somatic education to develop a greater embodiment in performance practice, to promote cognitive awareness and authentic responsiveness. Using sensory directive and task driven improvisations for experiential learning, dancers cultivate heightened sensitivity, energy projection, and spatial awareness. Through this investigation, I apply somatic concepts to develop the performers’ ability to recognize their presence wholly, cognitively, physically, spatially, and aesthetically, to find and project their somatic embodiment.

I am particularly interested in the nature of 'liveness' in performance. This has led me to investigations of the relationship between performer and audience, performative intent and everyday actions, and the expectations assigned to 'place'. By engaging in opportunities that highlight the flexible nature of these constructs, through site specific improvisation, I raise audience awareness of the integral role it plays in performance, and engage in the fluid relationship between art and life.

Technology furthers these explorations in exciting ways to create new experiences. I have used small wireless electronics onstage in performance; worn a live microphone with amplifier to blend voice and feedback as a tense soundscape in Bob; held LED candles for a shifting dreamlike environment in Some Will Bring Flowers. I have used hardwired equipment to project images onto a perforated scrim downstage that created a virtual 3D environment in Landscape. I use digital video editing to create dance films. I am eager to undertake long distance collaborations that are facilitated with present technology, live video feeds, and new media.

I place my work within the socio-political framework of contemporary dance. My research investigates the empirical study of performance, with context, meaning, and representation considered. With place providing the context for understanding, I create dances for human and natural environments, stage and screen, and juxtapose contradictions to stretch expected perception. With the nonverbal communication of dance predating language, I examine the complexity of its inherent meaning, often using humor to frame the eccentric nature of the dance vocabulary. This is complemented by comparative studies of the aesthetic and the everyday, the represented and the real, its implication and consequence.

I am fascinated by the many functions that performance plays in our contemporary society. Performance is an expression of our intangible cultural heritage that transmits information broadly, engaging the community in a dialogue of shared human experience. Performance is a metaphor for empowerment. It is a catalyst for change. It is fleeting and immediate, visceral and intelligent, emotional and cathartic. I value the capacity of performance to serve as a conduit for ideas, a vehicle for cultural exchange, and am eager to continue this dialogue.

Check out more on the artist website kimgregg.com.