Ann Carlson

Ann Carlson is an interdisciplinary artist who borrows from the disciplines of dance, performance, theater, visual and conceptual art, and often dismantles conventional boundaries between artist and subject. Carlson's work takes the form of solo performance, site-specific projects, ensemble dance and theatrical works, and performance/video. She also often works within a series format, creating  performance structures over a period of years that adapt and tour to multiple sites.


Carlson is the recipient of over thirty commissions and numerous awards for her artistic work. Her awards include: a 2016 Creative Capital Award, a 2015 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award in Contemporary Dance, a 2015 National Dance Project Award, a 2014 Multi-Art Production Fund Grant, a USA Artist Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and a Fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Art. She was an Artist Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies Fellowship/Harvard University and received three awards from the National Choreographic Initiative; a Doris Duke Award for New Work; the first Cal/Arts Alpert Award in Choreography, and a prestigious three-year choreographic fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Animals are often at the center of Carlson's inquiry in both her solo dance practice as well as larger projects. Doggie Hamlet, recently premiered at The Hopkins Center for the Arts, on Dartmouth College’s Green in Hanover, New Hampshire and then was performed on the Snake River Ranch in Jackson, WY through the auspices of Dancer’s Workshop. Doggie Hamlet  is a performance spectacle that includes a flock of sheep, three herding dogs and five  human performers. Carlson’s current solo  project in development, Dumbo Redacted, is informed by the movement, intelligence and mythology of the largest land mammal on earth, the elephant. This work is being developed in residency at Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, at Florida State University.

Living Legacy | Feb 11-24, 2018

Dumbo Redacted

Living Legacy Artist Ann Carlson returns to MANCC to continue working on her solo stage-based work, Dumbo Redacted. Carlson will both choreograph and perform this solo, which is informed by the movement and mythologies surrounding earth’s largest land mammal, the elephant. Set inside a circus ring and caught in a story out of sequence and out of date, Dumbo Redacted plays with clumsy grace and wild quiet as it collides and colludes with time, gravity, fury, and redemption. Joining Carlson again in residence is her dramaturg for the project, Melanie Joseph, who will continue to assist in refining the narrative and scenic elements of the work.

While at MANCC Carlson will engage with FSU’s Flying High Circus to immerse herself in the performative traditions of Big Top Circus. She will also present her work in an informal work-in-progress showing.

This residency is supported by a multi-year, multi-residency initiative from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This is Carlson’s third residency at MANCC working on this project (and another work, Elizabeth, the dance, which she premiered at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Utah in spring 2017) as part of the Mellon-funded Choreographic Fellows program, which allows artists to address the needs of the developing work at multiple stages. This funding addresses one of MANCC’s key programmatic priorities, to support vanguard artists’ work at all stages of development. By enabling artists to more fully research ideas in and out of the studio (concept, movement vocabulary, production design), MANCC residencies help artists more fully realize their artistic visions.

  • Photos Coming Soon
Collaborators in Residence: Melanie Joseph [Dramaturg]

Living Legacy | October 31 - November 16, 2016

Dumbo Redacted/Elizabeth, the dance

Living Legacy Artist Ann Carlson returned to MANCC for her third residency to continue to develop Dumbo Redacted, a solo performance work that builds upon her celebrated Animal series and was the focus of her prior residency in the spring of 2016. Carlson resumed the work she began in that residency with dramaturg Melanie Joseph to refine the focus of Dumbo Redacted. Carlson met with sculptor, Carolyn Henne, to research the possibilities of working with material on the body. Continuing her exploration, Carlson began to experiment with hay as a scenic element, while wearing trampoline-like “moon shoes”.  Joseph spoke about her work in the field with students taking a course titled, Theory of Performance and Directing.

In this second residency, Carlson also began to work on a new ensemble dance work,  Elizabeth, the dance, that traces personal and public histories through the lens of aesthetics, embodiment and desire. Carlson sketched material to build an episodic accumulation of dances and songs; working with "found" movement from modern dance history and individual dancers’ experience. Carlson worked with ten School of Dance students in this exploration.

A public work-in-progress showing, featuring these School of Dance students, was held for Elizabeth, the dance as part of the School of Dance Forum.

Carlson will return to MANCC to further her work in a future residency.

This residency was made possible with generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

  • Ann Carlson <i>Dumbo Redacted</i> residency
  • Ann Carlson <i>Dumbo Redacted</i> residency
  • FSU Department of Art faculty Carolyn Henne talks with Carlson about body covering options
  • Henne assists Carlson in her research on body covering
  • Dramaturg Melanie Joseph observes Carlson
  • Joseph assists Carlson with <i>Dumbo Redacted</i>
  • Ann Carlson <i>Dumbo Redacted</i>
  • Ann Carlson <i>Dumbo Redacted</i>
  • Ann Carlson <i>Dumbo Redacted</i>
  • Melanie Joseph talks with Jawole Zollar's Theory of Performance and Directing class
  • Carlson works with School of Dance students on <i>Elizabeth, the dance</i> material
  • <i>Elizabeth, the dance</i> Residency
  • Students Heather Boni and Ross Daniel explore <i>Elizabeth, the dance</i> material
  • Carlson directs School of Dance students in <i>Elizabeth, the dance</i>
  • <i>Elizabeth, the dance</i> work in progress showing
  • Carlson explores <i>Elizabeth, the dance</i> material with School of Dance students
  • Carlson explores <i>Elizabeth, the dance</i> material with School of Dance students
  • Carlson directs School of Dance student in <i>Elizabeth, the dance</i>
  • Carlson explores <i>Elizabeth, the dance</i> material with School of Dance students

Collaborators in Residence: Melanie Joseph [dramaturg]

Living Legacy | January 31 - February 7, 2016

Dumbo Redacted

Dumbo Redacted, a solo performance work that continues her celebrated Animal series, was the subject of Living Legacy Artist Ann Carlson’s second residency at MANCC. An abstract story, Dumbo Redacted is an elegy for the past, a celebration of a threatened species, and an invitation to observe the imaginary while anticipating the real. The work plays with clumsy grace, wild quiet, and moving stillness, informed by the movement, intelligence and mythology of the largest land mammal on earth.

While in residence, Carlson honed the project’s focus by experimenting with costumes and props, formalizing the movement language, and solidifying the thematic contours of the work. Carlson explored the early beginnings of the work with dramaturg Melanie Joseph. This connection marked an interesting moment for Carlson, as collaborating with a dramaturg at such an early stage of the creative process was a new step in her creative practice.

Dance Dramaturgy was the focus of the Entrypoints offered during the residency. Carlson and Joseph hosted a School of Dance Open Forum where they discussed Dumbo Redacted and demonstrated their approach to working together as choreographer and dramaturg. Carlson shared archival footage of her influential Animal Series while parsing her approach and concerns in each work. Later, Professor Mary Karen Dahl’s Graduate Dramaturgy class visited the rehearsal studio where they participated in a sample of  the processes and discussions employed while developing Dumbo Redacted. Carlson also engaged with the College of Fine Art’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence MK Haley.

This initial residency for Dumbo Redacted laid the groundwork for several forthcoming residencies, which will occur at MANCC over the course of the next several years.

Ann Carlson’s residency was made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

  • Melanie Joseph and Ann Carlson discuss <i>Dumbo Redacted</i> with FSU Dramaturgy Class
  • Melanie Joseph and Ann Carlson talk with FSU Dramaturgy Student
  • Melanie Joseph and Ann Carlson
  • Ann Carlson experiments with a prop for <i>Dumbo Redacted</i>
  • Ann Carlson experiments with a prop for <i>Dumbo Redacted</i>
  • Ann Carlson experiments with a prop for <i>Dumbo Redacted</i>

Collaborator in Residence: Melanie Joseph [dramaturg]

Living Legacy | September 8 – 16, 2011

Ash and Artifact: What the Body Knows

Ash and Artifact: What the Body Knows is an exploration of the way a body of work becomes re-framed over time. While in residence Carlson explored the following questions while re-learning her own pieces created between 1984 and 2003.

What if I just try to remember work from my body (refuse to look at documentation)? 
Where does past work (choreography/text/image/costume) live in the body? 
What am I remembering exactly in rebuilding the work -- documentation or performing or the process of making the work? 
What impact does work made in one time (say 20 years ago) have on the contemporary moment and visa versa? 
What should I do if I don’t like the work anymore? 
What should I do if I can’t do certain parts of the work? 
How will the work be different and how will I know? 
How does the present re-frame work that was made in the past? 
How does a new generation perceive work that was made in another time? 
Does that matter? Is temporal work really timeless? 
What if I invite another choreographer into these questions and dialogue while re-learning the work?

Carlson engaged in daily reflections with faculty and community members to discuss the impact of historical context upon the material. 
 She also rehearsed the material through short, impromptu “bursts” in dance, theater, and performance art classes across campus, enabling opportunities for reflection with another generation of audiences and art-makers. The residency culminated with a public showing and dialogue of six solo pieces; Balcony, Blanket, Grass, Bird, Rodeo, and Premiere, that had never previously been presented together in one evening.

During the residency, Carlson also met with a multitude of prospective partners (day care centers, horse farms, puppeteer and theater directors) to consider options for casting, space and other logistics for Yellow Bud. This work, a large project commissioned by the Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis, will be a movement-based performance experience for children 18 months to 3 years old. 

  • Carlson performs <i>Balcony</i> at MANCC Informal Showing
  • Carlson performs <i>Balcony</i> at MANCC Informal Showing
  • Carlson performs <i>Blanket</i> at MANCC Informal Showing
  • Carlson performs <i>Blanket</i> at MANCC Informal Showing
  • Carlson performs <i>Grass</i> at MANCC Informal Showing
  • Carlson performs <i>Grass</i> with the FSU Eppes String Quartet
  • Carlson performs <i>Grass</i> at MANCC Informal Showing
  • Carlson performs <i>Bird</i> at MANCC Informal Showing
  • Carlson performs <i>Rodeo</i> at MANCC Informal Showing
  • Carlson performs <i>Rodeo</i> at MANCC Informal Showing
  • Carlson speaks with audience during MANCC Informal Showing
  • Carlson performs <i>Grass</i> for Theatre Professor George McConnell's Performing Arts class.
  • Carlson discusses her classroom performance of <i>Grass</i> with theatre students.
  • Carlson discusses her classroom performance with Professor Syssoyeva's FSU School of Theatre class.
  • Carlson performs for FSU School of Dance modern technique class with guest artist Pavel Zustiak.
  • Carlson speaks with Professor Gerri Houlihan and the FSU School of Dance Freshman class.
  • Carlson discusses her classroom performance with School of Dance Professor Gerri Houlihan.
  • Carlson researches the possibility of including a miniature horse in her upcoming project <i>Yellow Bud</i>.
  • Carlson talks with Mary Lackey at Sundance Oaks Miniature Horse Farm.
  • Chris Bertoch of Annsworth Academy talks with Carlson about engaging with preschoolers for <i>Yellow Bud</i>.
Collaborator in Residence: Morgan Thorson [dramaturg/choreographer]. Slideshow photos by Bridget Williams and MANCC Staff.

World Premiere

Cynthia Oliver

Virago-Man Dem
October 25 - 28
BAM Fisher (NYC)

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