Liz Lerman

Liz Lerman is a choreographer, performer, writer, educator and speaker, and the recipient of numerous honors, including a 2014 Dance/USA Honor Award, a 2002 MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship and a 2011 United States Artists Ford Fellowship in Dance. A key aspect of her artistry is opening her process to various publics from shipbuilders to physicists, construction workers to ballerinas, resulting in both research and outcomes that are participatory, relevant, urgent, and usable by others. She founded Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976 and cultivated the company's unique multi-generational ensemble into a leading force in contemporary dance until 2011. She was an artist-in-residence and visiting lecturer at Harvard University in fall of 2011, and continues to teach nationally and internationally from Edinburgh to Australia. Current projects involve Healing Wars, an investigation of the impact of war on medicine; the genre-twisting work Blood Muscle Bone with Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Urban Bush Women; work in London with Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the London Sinfonietta; comic book structures as applied to narration in performance; and an online project called “The Treadmill Tapes: Ideas on the Move.” In 2013 she curated Wesleyan University's symposium "Innovations: Intersection of Art and Science,” bringing together teams of artists and scientists from North America to present their methods and findings. Her collection of essays, Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer, was published in 2011 by Wesleyan University Press and will be released in paperback in 2014.

Living Legacy | May 4 - 13, 2014

Healing Wars Spring 2014

MacArthur Fellow and Living Legacy Artist Liz Lerman returned to MANCC to develop Healing Wars, a work that examines how we heal ourselves, individually and collectively, during and after war. Lerman’s piece touches American conflicts from the Civil War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and asks how we absorb the impact and aftermath of war.

Lerman’s second MANCC residency for the work and third trip to Tallahassee built on her experiences to date and offered her full cast of collaborators a final production residency before the piece’s premiere run in Washington D.C.  Along with the cast, Lerman worked with two FSU student veterans, Will Beachem and Doug Tran, to authenticate the movement of the performers.  In addition Beachem, a combat medic, met with Lerman and collaborators to share his experiences and substantiate elements of the content and language of the piece. Former FSU professor Dr. Deanna Epley, who participated in Lerman’s previous residency, returned to develop a performance-segment about her time as a nurse during the Vietnam War. Epley offered poignant stories and improvisational movement about her experiences during and after her service, which she shared before a public audience on the final day of the residency. The work-in-progress showing of Healing Wars was presented to an audience drawn from across FSU’s academic and administrative divisions including History, Theater, Communications, Art Therapy, and Social Work.

Healing Wars will premiere at Arena Stage in June 6-29, 2014.

  • Alli Ross in <i>Healing Wars</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> rehearsal
  • Lerman works with Lighting Designer Heidi Eckwall
  • Tamara Pullman in <i>Healing Wars</i> rehearsal
  • Samantha Speis in <i>Healing Wars</i> rehearsal
  • FSU student Emily Wolfe works with Lerman collaborators
  • FSU student Emily Wolfe serves as <i>Healing Wars</i> understudy
  • Costume Designer David Reynoso works with Samantha Speis
  • FSU student Emily Wolfe talks with Tallahassee veterans about <i>Healing Wars</i>
  • FSU student veteran Will Beachem shares his experiences with Lerman collaborators
  • FSU student veteran Will Beachem demonstrates medical procedures with Bill Pullman
  • FSU student veteran Doug Tran shares his experiences
  • Keith Thompson improvises with Vietnam veteran Dr. Deanna Epley
  • Former FSU Faculty and Vietnam veteran Dr. Deanna Epley rehearses <i>Healing Wars</i>
  • Keith Thompson and Dr. Deanna Epley
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing

Collaborators in residence:  George Hirsch, Ted Johnson, Bill Pullman, Tamara Pullman, Alli Ross, Samantha Speis, Keith Thompson [Performers], Heidi Eckwall, [Lighting Designer], Kate Freer [Media Designer], David Reynoso, [Costume & Scenic Designer],  Meg Kelly [Production Manager], Olivia O’Brien [Stage Manager], Darron L West [Sound Designer], Matt Hubbs [Associate Sound Designer] and Stevo Arnoczy [Video Assistant]. Photo slideshows by Chris Cameron and Jon Nalon.

Living Legacy | Nov. 15 - 22, 2013

Healing Wars Fall 2013

Renowned choreographer and MacArthur award winner Liz Lerman came to MANCC for the first of two residencies this season to develop Healing Wars which examines how we piece ourselves back together, as individuals and as a society, in times of war.

Lerman’s initial planning visit for this season’s residencies took place Spring 2013, at which time she met with representatives from FSU’s School of Engineering, including Dr. Chad Zeng, an assistant professor who leads a team that has been awarded 4 million dollars by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs to advance the functionality of prosthetic limbs.  She talked to Col. Billy Francis, the director of FSU's Veteran Center about the needs of veterans as they return to civilian life as students.  Lerman was also able to meet with Dr. Kristine C. Harper, Associate Professor in FSU’s History Department and retired Naval Commander about her experiences as a female commissioned officer.

In Healing Wars Lerman pursues the questions, How do we absorb the impact and aftermath of war? What are the wounds to the body and soul of the people and of the nation, winner and loser both? How do these persist? The life and death of soldiers, nurses, surgeons, and spirits during the American Civil War and our contemporary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—though vastly different in purpose and outcome--forms the backdrop for eight characters who migrate between the conflicts - for example, a Civil War soldier whose femaleness is revealed during field surgery becomes a soldier in Iraq being counseled for PTSD. As the characters migrate between the conflicts of today and of the 19th century, we have the opportunity to see war itself as theme-and-variation. The 150th anniversary of our Civil War offers a potent context for issues that continue to impact lives in the US and around world, but at an intimate scale Healing Wars is about bodies: what they bear, what they cannot bear, how we hide them when they die, how we patch them up while they live.

To realize her vision, Lerman assembled a creative team of collaborators including an actor, sound designer, costume/scenic designer, video & projection designer, six dancers, and an ex-Marine.  Lerman’s November residency provided her and her collaborators opportunities to synthesize recent research and multiple site-visits as they further developed the design and narrative of the work.  Early in the residency, Lerman met with Dr. Deanna Epley, who served as a nurse in Vietnam and FSU graduate students Meredith McMackin and Heather Barta, whose lives were altered by the war in Iraq.  The women shared their experiences and then broke into small groups to work directly with the cast.  Elements of the participants’ narratives were present in a showing near the end of the residency when Lerman invited a small audience to view the work-in-progress.  School of Dance students, Emily Wolfe and Emily Floyd, served as interns throughout the residency.    

Lerman and the full cast of collaborators return in May, 2014 to stage and refine the complete the work prior to the premiere at Arena Stage in June 6-29, 2014.

  • George Hirsch, Tamara Pullman and Ted Johnson in rehearsal for <i>Healing Wars</i>
  • Performers Keith Thompson and Alli Ross
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> rehearsal
  • Performers Alli Ross and Tamara Pullman
  • Liz Lerman guides rehearsal
  • Performers Marjani Forte, Ted Johnson and George Hirsch
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> rehearsal
  • FSU Student Emily Wolfe works with Marjani Forte
  • Costume & Scenic Designer David Reynoso and performer Alli Ross
  • Lerman and collaborators watch George Hirsch perform section of <i>Healing Wars</i>
  • Liz Lerman and collaborators talk about the impact of war with area Veterans
  • Dr. Deanna Epley discusses PTSD with Ted Johnson and Tamara Pullman
  • Ted Johnson and Tamara Pullman take direction from Dr. Deanna Epley and Liz Lerman
  • Veteran Heather Barta describes the physicality of being a soldier
  • Meredith McMackin and Tamara Pullman discuss the relationships between mothers and sons
  • Collaborator Josh Bleill skypes with full cast
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing performers view projected image of collaborator Josh Bleill
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • Ted Johnson in <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • Marjani Forte in <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • Tamara Pullman and George Hirsch in <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • Johnson, Ross and Thompson in <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • Johnson, Ross and Thompson in <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing
  • Johnson, Ross and Thompson in <i>Healing Wars</i> informal showing

Collaborators in residence: Marjani Forte, George Hirsch, Ted Johnson, Tamara Pullman, Alli Ross, [Performers], Heidi Eckwall, [Lighting Designer], Kate Freer [Media Designers], David Reynoso, [Costume & Scenic Designer], Ben Royer, [Stage Manager], Keith Thompson, [Rehearsal Director/Performer], Darron L West, [Sound Designer]. Photo slideshows 1 & 2 by Chris Cameron. All photos in slideshow 3 by Jon Nalon.

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Okwui Okpokwasili

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