Michelle Ellsworth

Michelle Ellsworth uses her expansive definition of dance as well as video, text, performance sculptures, and the World Wide Web to explore topics ranging from pharmaceutical art to experimental surveillance. Consistently commingling with technology and objects, her recent works were highlighted in the New York Times’ article Best of Dance 2015 under the heading “Dances With Gadgets.” 

Currently Ellsworth is developing The Rehearsal Artist (part performance and part social science experiment) to observe how a body’s meaning and function shift as it collides with other bodies in the context of a reoccurring rehearsal/experiment. Next up is the Post-Verbal Social Network, which employs pre-industrial technology to augment the physical labor of choreography and community. For both of these projects,
Ellsworth will collaborate with video and sound artist Max Bernstein, lighting designer and reactive artist Ryan Seelig, web programmer and designer Satchel Spencer, and alpinist and carpenter Bruce Miller.

Among her honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship (2016), Doris Duke Impact Award (2015), a NEFA National Dance Project Grant (2014), a Creative Capital Fellowship (2013), and a USA Artists Knight Fellowship in Dance (2012). She has received three National Performance Network Creation Fund Commissions (2004, 2007, and 2016).

Highlights in her performing career include presenting at On The Boards in Seattle (2004, 2005, 2012, 2015), The Chocolate Factory (2015), The Fusebox Festival in Austin (2013 and 2015), Abandon Normal Devices Festival in Liverpool (2013), Danspace in New York City (2012), Diverseworks in Houston (1996, 199, 2001, 2005, 2009), Dance Theatre Workshop in New York City (1992, 1993, 1996, 2007), and Brown University (2011, 2015).

Visiting Artist | October 16 - 26th, 2016

The Rehearsal Artist

The Rehearsal Artist expands the tradition of generative art to live performance by treating the rehearsal as an experimental site where bodies are encoded with a set of instructions and then given space for that DNA to manifest. Behind a one-way glass surveillance window, Ellsworth’s hands collide with the heads of a rotating cast of artists. An 8 foot diameter wheel holds both Ellsworth and her subjects (see slides), while the performers respond to choreographic prompts derived (in part) from the canon of social science experiments (e.g. Harlow’s Dependency of Monkeys on Mothers and Asch’s Conformity Experiments).The surveillance window functions as both a rehearsal mirror and dividing mechanism, placing the performers as objects of study in a rehearsal-turned-laboratory experiment.

Working with School of Dance students while in residence, Ellsworth experimented with a performance apparatus, audience autonomy and improvisational scores.  She engineered the audience experience by inviting only a small audience at a time to observe the work with its shifting meanings. Initially, a group of audience members voyeuristically watched the “rehearsal” from the front of the wheel; soundproofing and the surveillance mirror prevent the performers from knowing when they are being watched. During the second half of the work, the audience moved to the exposed backside of the wheel while a new group of audience members entered the front area.

In addition to experimenting with a newly constructed performance apparatus and audiences whose perceptions shift, Ellsworth met with FSU Political Science faculty Dr. Jens Grosser to discuss game theory, group dynamics and social science experiments.

Ellsworth also invited writer and critic Jennifer Krasinsky to be in residence for three days towards the end of the residency. This opportunity, part of a pilot program funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, enables selected MANCC artists to invite a writer of their choice to be embedded in their residency. The goal is to support more nuanced analysis and context around choreographers’ research and creative process. Krasinsky’s critical writing is widely published, including in Artforum.com, Art In America, Spike Art Quarterly, Bidoun, N+1 Film Review, DIS Magazine, The Paris Review Blog and The Village Voice.

The Rehearsal Artist premieres April 29 - 30, 2017 at Bard College, Live Arts BARD in Hudson, NY.

  • Lighting Designer Ryan Seelig and Set Designer Bruce Miller
  • Ellsworth, Seelig, Miller and Max Bernstein experiment with the performance apparatus
  • <i>The Rehearsal Artist</i> performance apparatus
  • <i>The Rehearsal Artist</i>
  • <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i>
  • <i>The Rehearsal Artist</i> rehearsal
  • <i>The Rehearsal Artist</i> rehearsal
  • <i>The Rehearsal Artist</i> rehearsal
  • <i>The Rehearsal Artist</i> rehearsal
  • <i>The Rehearsal Artist</i> rehearsal
  • <i>The Rehearsal Artist</i> rehearsal
  • Michelle Ellsworth rehearses <i>The Rehearsal Artist</i>
  • School of Dance student rehearse <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i>
  • Lauren Beale leads School of Dance student in <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i> rehearsal
  • Beale leads School of Dance student in <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i> rehearsal
  • Writer Jennifer Krasinski with Michelle Ellsworth
  • Michelle Ellsworth with students and collaborators
  • Ellsworth discusses lighting with Ryan Seelig
  • Michelle Ellsworth leads rehearsal
  • <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i> rehearsal
  • School of Dance student Emily Kaniuka
  • Michelle Ellsworth
  • FSU Political Science faculty Dr. Jens Grosser
  • Ellsworth talks with FSU Political Science faculty Dr. Jens Grosser
  • Work in progress showing <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i>
  • Work in progress showing <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i>
  • Work in progress showing <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i>
  • Work in progress showing <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i>
  • Work in progress showing <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i>
  • Lauren Beale Work in progress showing <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i>
  • Work in progress showing <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i>
  • Work in progress showing <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i>
  • Work in progress showing <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i>
  • Jadd Tank Work in progress showing <i>The Rehearsal Artist<i>

Collaborators in Residence: Max Bernstein [Video/Sound], Ryan Seelig [Lighting Designer], Bruce Miller [Set Designer], Jadd Tank, Lauren Beale [Dancers], Jennifer Krasinski [Writer]

Featured Artist

Okwui Okpokwasili

Poor People's
TV Room

April 19 - 29
Live Arts, (NY)

>

Click to close x