Dayna Hanson

Dayna Hanson is a 2006 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow in choreography, 2010 United States Artists Oliver Fellow in Dance, 2012 recipient of Artist Trust’s Arts Innovator Award and 2017 MacDowell Colony Fellow. Based in Seattle, Dayna has been creating dance, performance and film for more than 30 years. From 1994–2006, Dayna was co-artistic director of internationally touring dance theater company 33 Fainting Spells. Her films have screened worldwide, including at New York Film Festival and South by Southwest. She wrote, choreographed and directed an episode of HBO’s TV series, Room 104, which was acclaimed by The New York Times and Vox as one of the best television episodes of 2017. Dayna is co-founder of Base, a nonprofit art space devoted to elevating experimentation in dance, performance and multidisciplinary art.

Visiting Artist | December 1 - 13, 2019

28 Problems

Dayna Hanson will return to MANCC in December 2019 to further develop her 2016 quartet 28 Problems, that uses movement, translation theories, and GIFs to transcode content from one language to another, in this case, mathematics to dance. Based on a discarded sheet of hand-written calculus equations, the work’s formal rigor serves to probe aspect’s of Hanson’s family history. Personal details arising from the scratch paper itself—and the gesture that produced it—humanize an otherwise formal dance piece.

The work is unusual for Hanson in that the subject matter is both deeply personal, yet widely relatable. The source material—hand-written calculus problems on the back of a recipe for “Perfect Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs”—has personal meaning for Hanson: the sheet was left on her dining table in 2013 after her older son offered her younger son an impromptu calculus lesson. The moment piqued Hanson’s interest as a gesture of connection in a neutral realm of abstract knowledge. 28 Problems reflects Hanson’s interest not only in what exists within the spaces between people, but also in gestures that narrow the gap with another person.

To view a sampling of the movement vocabulary, visit the 28 problems Glyph GIFs, which show front and back views of some of the glyphs in 28 problems. The drag-and-drop interface also allows the viewer to rearrange the Glyph GIFs to form a range of mathematical expressions.

During her time at MANCC, Hanson plans to work on what she has dubbed the “Monobloc Challenge,” which is inspired by a drawing of an XY axis with curves on the discarded sheet of calculus equations. For this section, Hanson aims to set movement on an “ensemble” of plastic chairs— specifically the cheap, ubiquitous “Monobloc” chairs forgotten on roadsides, alleys, and yards. Because they are cheap, these chairs can be found all over the world, and because they are plastic, they tend to endure, taking on a patina from years in the elements and falling into disrepair along the way. Hanson notes, “When I see these chairs, whether in odd or typical spaces, I see the suggestion of human occupation—I see artifacts of activity, connection and conversation encapsulated in the often random-seeming compositions in which I see them.” Enhanced robotically, these lightweight chairs will perform choreography that reflects the drawings on the page by executing combinations of simple commands: left, right, forward, and reverse.

With the help of FSU resources in the engineering and mathematics departments, Hanson hopes to create a system of multiple methods to realize this vision of dancing chairs in touring performances of 28 problems. The lines of the drawing can be imagined as a pattern on the floor of the stage. The Y axis runs along the floor from the center of the audience to the upstage wall. The X-axis runs left to right, or parallel to the audience. The two axes intersect at center stage. The pattern serves as a map for the chairs’ movement, and while the coding may be fairly simple, the mechanics have proven tricky. Throughout her time at MANCC, Hanson plans to troubleshoot these various strategies to bring this section of the work to full fruition.

28 Problems will premiere at The Chocolate Factory in Long Island City, NY.

  • Photos Coming Soon
Collaborators in Residence: Jim Fletcher, Julia Sloane, Madison Haynes [Performers]

Visiting Artist | May 13-25, 2013

The Clay Duke

Seattleite Dayna Hanson came to MANCC to develop The Clay Duke, a hybrid new work loosely based on a 2010 school board shooting in Panama City, Florida.  The Clay Duke is a work of devised dance theater that blends details from the 2010 school board shooting with investigations of Anton Chekhov and the vigilantism of the 1970s Death Wish crime film franchise.  Bringing these various sources together under the creative umbrella of this singular play, Hanson’s use of of dance, music, and theater creates a strange performance logic attempting to discover hope in a grim story.

This was the first major residency for The Clay Duke outside of Seattle and was used to develop the character and choreographic base of the work to inform the overall structure of the piece.  While The Clay Duke is not intended as a literal rendering or documentary performance of the shooting, Hanson’s use of the details of the event—including staging, characters, rhythm, theatrical arc, physicality and dialogue—deeply influence and shape the work.  To that end,  while in residence, Hanson and her collaborators traveled to Panama City to attend a school board meeting.  Here, the group was to be able to draw directly from the location and from individuals who had been involved in the shooting.

Following a rigorous rehearsal schedule, the group shared their working process through an open rehearsal.  The audience was able to witness the slow building process, through text, character development and blocking, that allows details to be refined into a more fully developed picture.  Additionally, during her time in residence, Hanson experimented with music and lyrics along with recording text for the piece.

On The Boards will host The Clay Duke World Premiere Dec 5-8, 2013.

  • Performer Sarah Rudinoff rehearses with <i>The Clay Duke</i> collaborators.
  • Dayna Hanson leads collaborators in <i>The Clay Duke</i> rehearsal.
  • <i>The Clay Duke</i>
  • <i>The Clay Duke rehearsal</i>
  • Hanson and collaborators explore concepts related to <i>The Clay Duke</i>
  • Hanson and Thomas Graves discuss <i>The Clay Duke</i>
  • Wade Madsen and Dave Proscia rehearse
  • Wade Madsen and Peggy Piacenza
  • Wade Madsen and Peggy Piacenza
  • <i>The Clay Duke</i> rehearsal
  • Wade Madsen and Thomas Graves rehearse <i>The Clay Duke</i>
  • Rudinoff, Proscia and Peggy Piacenza
  • Hanson leads rehearsal
  • Peggy Piacenza in Open Rehearsal
  • Hanson shares movement material during an Open Rehearsal
  • Wade Madsen and Thomas Graves
  • Wade Madsen and Peggy Piacenza
  • Wade Madsen and Peggy Piacenza
  • <i>The Clay Duke</i>
  • <i>The Clay Duke</i>
  • Hanson talks with School of Dance students at Open Rehearsal
Collaborators in Residence: Thomas Graves, Wade Madsen, Peggy Piacenza, Dave Proscia, Sarah Rudinoff [performers], Andalyn Young [assistant director] Slideshow photos by Chris Cameron

NYC Premiere

Jumatatu Poe

Let ‘im Move You
October 9 - 13
Abrons Art Center


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