Jeanine Durning

Jeanine Durning is an Alpert Award winning choreographer, performer and teacher, whose work has been described by The New Yorker as having both “the potential for philosophical revelation and theatrical disaster.” Her research is often motivated by fundamental questions around how our basic desire for connection and communication aligns, and often misaligns, with how our thinking and feeling come to form and action.

Since 1998, Durning has created both solo and group works that have been presented nationally and internationally. Her most recent projects are centered around a procedural practice she calls nonstopping. In 2010, Durning premiered her critically acclaimed solo inging (based on nonstop speaking) in Amsterdam, and has since then been performed over 45 times in studios, theaters, galleries, rooms and festivals across Europe (Stockholm, Berlin, Zagreb, Kristiansand/Norway and Leuven/Belgium), the US (NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Williams College, UMBC), in Toronto, Canada. The arts journalist, Camille LeFevre of Minneapolis wrote: “Jeanine Durning’s inging is the cri de coeur of a dancer, choreographer and actor struggling, with every cell of her being, to smash any distinctions between those three identities while, more importantly, refuting any notions that body and mind, spirit and sensation, voice and physicality, emotion and intellect are separate.”

Durning’s work has been supported and awarded by two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in Choreography (2016, 2006), the Alpert Award for Choreography (2007), the Movement Research Artist in Residence (2013-2015), Gibney Dance Center’s Dance in Process Residency (2015), Brooklyn Arts Exchange Space Grant (2013), Viola Farber Residency through Sarah Lawrence College (2007), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Space Grant (2005), Dance Theater Workshop Choreographic Lab (2005), Dance Space Center Residency (2004), The Yard Choreographic Residency (2002), The Bossak Heilbron Charitable Foundation grant (2002), and a Meet The Composer grant (2002).

In support of her new project dark matter, selfish portrait, Durning has received residencies at Seoul Dance Center, Korea through Movement Research Exchange and Asian Cultural Council (September 2017) and the Rauschenberg Foundation Residency (November/December 2017).

Durning is a sought-out performer, having collaborated with many choreographers, including David Dorfman (with whom she worked from 1995-2003), Susan Rethorst, Bebe Miller, Martha Clarke, Chris Yon and Richard Siegal. Since 2005, Durning has worked on and off with post-modern dance pioneer and choreographer Deborah Hay in the capacities of performer, choreographic assistant and most recently, from 2011-2013, as consultant to the Motion Bank (Frankfurt) on Ms. Hay’s choreographic and scoring practices.

Durning has had an ongoing teaching practice since 2000, facilitating classes/workshops/ateliers in movement and choreographic practices. She is dedicated to the transfer, transmission and translation of embodied knowledge to a future generation of performers and makers. She sees her teaching practice as a natural extension of her research of dance, focusing on how action, affect, content and context are in shared dialogue with choreographer, performer and audience alike. Durning has taught at numerous institutions across the US, including most recently at UCLA/WAC, and in Europe, including The School for New Dance Development (SNDO) in Amsterdam and with The Inter-University Centre for Dance (HZT) in Berlin.

Durning is often invited to advise the work of other choreographers as mentor and/or dramaturge. She has worked in this capacity with many choreographers including Ame Henderson (Toronto), Lito Walkey (Berlin), Tian Rooteveel (Berlin), Christina Ciupke (Berlin), Alma Soderberg (Brussels), Simon Tanguy (Rennes), Sam Kim (NYC), Julian Barnett (NYC), Quim Bassart (Stockholm), Meg Foley (Philadelphia), and Michelle Boule (NYC).

Returning Choreographic Fellow | January 16 - 23, 2018 // May 29 - June 16, 2018 // Feb 27- March 13, 2019

dark matter, selfish portrait

Award winning choreographer Jeanine Durning first came to MANCC in 2008 as a performer in Deborah Hay’s work If I Sing to You and recently returned to MANCC for her third of three residencies to continue development of her solo dark matter, selfish portrait. A paradoxical practice of meta-morphing and de-creating, the work uses movement, language, sound, and situation within defamiliarized rooms, to interrogate subjectivity as a provisional and variable state. Following a residency in Bulgaria in October 2018, Durning continued her investigation into how engaging in this particular process in various spaces and environments informs and shifts the work.

Curious about the rich history of artists who have used themselves as material for their work, Durning initially researched self-portraiture in art and performance, and explored notions of (self)/consciousness, reflexivity, and perception. She found herself asking, ‘why do I keep coming back to the solo form and what is it about this self-reflexive practice that keeps challenging me?’ She realized that on one level, the desire to return to herself as material felt unnecessary, particularly in this time, which is in such dire need of community and togetherness. She views this line of questioning as necessary and critical. It became clear, however, that her interests lie not in herself per se, but in another self or, rather, an othering, or unselfing -  passing through an ever-shifting archive of narrative forms, associations and representations. She became interested in the provisional nature of self assemblage and disappearing content, working with a body that is exponentially changing and receptive to variably unstable environments.

Continuing with her ongoing practice she calls “nonstopping,” Durning has drawn inspiration from William James, whose philosophy focused on the relationship among experience, behavior and adaptive consciousness within the individual, as well as the work of Samuel Beckett, which probed the individual’s search for meaning and radically explored the gulf between one’s desires and the language used to express them. In her own words, Durning explains, “on a very basic level, I'm asking, ‘where do we go, where and how do we place ourselves, in relation to what, how do we cope, how do we co-create environments that get normalized but end up becoming uninhabitable and fractured, and, ultimately, how does sudden change and precarity affect our bodies. How do we end up relating to our surroundings, to ourselves, to one another? And ultimately, what is the sense-making and meaning-making in the midst of this?’”

During her first MANCC residency in January 2018, Durning met with FSU’s Dr. Stanley Gontarski, Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English, whose research interests include European Modernism and performance theory, and who has published several books on the work of Samuel Beckett. Gontarski discussed Beckett’s oeuvre with Durning to further inform her embodied research on “the self” in both performance and society. She also discussed the theory of dark matter with astrophysicist Dr. Jeremiah Murphy. Durning further explored her ideas with School of Dance students in Dr. Jen Atkins’ graduate level MANCC Experience course and Dr. Hannah Schwadron’s Contemporary Perspectives on Dance class.

Durning returned to MANCC in June 2018 with composer Tian Rotteveel for a second residency, during which they began to collaborate on the sonic landscape of the work. Durning continued her conversations with FSU faculty members, Dr. Stanley Gontarski and Dr. Hannah Schwadron, and experimented with different orientations of audience and performer in two open rehearsals, which were attended by School of Dance faculty and students. As a part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative, Jenn Joy visited the artists in residence for two days of observation and conversation: from this time has come the idea of creating an artist book on Durning and her work by Joy.

During her third MANCC residency, Durning continued these lines of inquiry by meeting with Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dr. Andrea Westlund, whose work focuses on relational autonomy and feminist philosophy. Durning and Rotteveel also hosted two informal showings at FSU’s School of Dance. Durning referred to these as ‘sharings of her practice,’ the first of which was open to the community and the second of which took place during Associate Professor, Dr. Jen Atkins’, Contemporary Perspectives on Dance class. Both sharings concluded with discussions between the artists and the audience. Finally, as a continuation of Jenn Joy’s work with Durning, the two held a skype meeting during the residency to move the idea of creating an artist book further along .

This multi-residency support and support for the embedded writer is made possible through The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which allows artists to more thoroughly research their ideas in multiple phases.

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  • Durning discusses her ideas with FSU School of Dance students
  • Durning talks with FSU Professor of English Dr. Stanley Gontarski about the work of Samuel Beckett
  • Durning discusses the theory of dark matter with FSU astrophysicist Dr. Jeremiah Murphy
  • Jeanine Durning and composer Tian Rotteveel
  • Tian Rotteveel and Jeanine Durning
  • Composer Tian Rotteveel
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  • Tian Rotteveel and Jeanine Durning
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  • Jeanine Durning shares process with Tallahassee/FSU community
  • Jeanine Durning shares work with FSU's Summer Intensive Dance Workshop attendees
  • Jeanine Durning in conversation with Dr. Stanley Gontarski
  • Durning and Dr. Gontarski
  • Tian Rotteveel and Jeanine Durning in conversation with writer Jenn Joy.
  • Jeanine Durning shares work with FSU's Summer Intensive Dance Workshop students
  • Jeanine Durning shares work with FSU's Summer Intensive Dance Workshop students
  • Jeanine Durning shares work with FSU's Summer Intensive Dance Workshop students
  • Jeanine Durning shares work with FSU's Summer Intensive Dance Workshop students
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  •  Tian Rotteveel and Jeanine Durning in residence for <i>dark matter, selfish portrait</i>
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  • Tian Rotteveel and Jeanine Durning
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  • Tian Rotteveel and Jeanine Durning
  • Professor of Philosophy, Dr. Andrea Westlund meets with Durning
  • Durning shares with with students and faculty
  • Durning shares with with students and faculty
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  • Durning shares work during showing
  • Post-showing discussion with students
Collaborator in Residence: Tian Rotteveel [Composer], Jenn Joy [Writer]

Featured Artist

Alice Sheppard /
Kinetic Light

DESCENT
November 23
Georgia Tech
University, Atlanta (GA)

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