Kathy Westwater

Kathy Westwater, 2017 recipient of the Solange MacArthur Award for New Choreography, has choreographically pursued experimental dance forms since 1996. Her work, described in The Brooklyn Rail as “at the limits of the human,” responds to the societal landscape in which it manifests by reimagining the body's movement potential.

With an eye to contemporary experience, Westwater’s major works have explored the built environments of monuments (“Anywhere,” 2016), and landfills and parks (“PARK,” 2009-2013); phenomena of war and pain (“Macho,” 2008); intersections of human and animal culture (“twisted, tack, broken,” 2005); psycho-physical states of fear (“Dark Matter,” 2002); and interactive virtual environments (“The Fortune Cookie Dance,” 1999).

Her work has been presented at New York Live Arts, Danspace Project, 92nd Street Y, Joyce SoHo, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Franklin Furnace, Dixon Place, Performance Space 122, Movement Research at Judson Church, Brooklyn Studios for Dance, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Summer Stages Dance Festival, Reed College, Pratt Institute, Temple University, and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Her work “The Fortune Cookie Dance” is cited in The Drama Review as one of the earliest online interactive dances and is archived in the Walker Art Center’s Mediatheque Archive.

Westwater has received commissions most recently from Lumberyard and Temple University, and from New York Live Arts and Danspace Project; and awards from Foundation for Contemporary Art, Puffin Foundation, Franklin Furnace Fund, Meet the Composer, and New York Foundation for the Arts. This year she is one of three inaugural artists at Petronio Residency Center, and is the recipient of numerous past residencies, including Brooklyn Studios for Dance, Temple University, Djerassi, Movement Research, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, iLAND, The Field, Millay Colony, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Pratt Institute. In 2018 Westwater was named an Anchor Artist by the Joyce Theater Foundation. Her earliest support included grants from 92nd Street Y and Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and a Summer Stages Dance Festival fellowship.

Westwater has performed in the work of Simone Forti, Steve Paxton, and, for nine years, Merián Soto & Pepón Osorio. Since 2001, she has taught at Sarah Lawrence College. She is currently making a solo for former New York City Ballet Principal Wendy Whelan.

Visiting Artist | January 21 - February 3, 2018

Rambler, Worlds Worlds A Part

In her latest evening-length work Rambler, Worlds Worlds A Part, choreographer Kathy Westwater explores pain and the body, including the pain of others. Having begun this exploration over twenty years ago, in this latest investigation Westwater invited dance artists in the work to consider their personal experiences of pain and trauma. While contemplating if it is possible to fully express the experience of one’s own pain — and its opposite, bliss — or to fully grasp that of others, the cast of dancers responded to and celebrated the profound music of post-minimalist composer Julius Eastman.

The premiere of Rambler, … features performances by dancers Ilona Bito, Thomas F. DeFrantz, Alex Romania, Rakia Seaborn, Paul Singh, Stacy Lynn Smith, and Westwater, lighting designer Roderick Murray, and dramaturg Melanie George, all of whom were part of Westwater’s MANCC residency. The premiere will also include Eastman’s live music played by Joseph Kubera and Adam Tendler, a special appearance by musician and composer M. Lamar, and set design by architect Seung Jae Lee.

Dance artists in this project also looked beyond their personal experiences through two creative workshops they taught within a community of Black, gay men in Jackson, Mississippi, where an AIDS/HIV epidemic is currently occurring. There they shared through workshops and an open rehearsal of Rambler, … how in this project they process pain so that participants could also explore creativity as a response to pain, and the forms of oppression, racial and homophobic, that have contributed to the circumstances underlying the epidemic. These activities were hosted by Southern Echo, a community organizing group in Jackson with historic roots in the civil rights movement. 

During her time at MANCC, Westwater had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Stephen Montague, Visiting Assistant Professor in the FSU College of Music. Montague candidly described his time as an experimental composer during the 1970s -80s, including his interactions with Eastman. As a part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative, Westwater and her collaborators were joined by Allie Tepper, who is currently the Mellon Interdisciplinary Fellow at the Walker Center for the Arts in Minneapolis. Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this initiative is designed to support the re-imagining of dance writing conventions in order to better respond to and engage with a wider range of ever-evolving contemporary forms. Additionally, Westwater and her collaborators hosted a showing of the work within FSU’s School of Dance, followed by a post-showing talk that included Westwater and her collaborators, as well as Tepper and George.

Rambler, Worlds Worlds A Part premiered at New York Live Arts February 14, 15 & 16, 2019, is a co-presentation of NYLA and Lumberyard, and was commissioned by Lumberyard. The work will then go on to be shared with audiences in Jackson, MS.

This residency was supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts.

  • Rakia Seaborn and Stacy Lynn Smith rehearse <em>Rambler, Worlds Worlds A Part</em>
  • Ilona Bito and Alex Romania
  • Alex Romania and Stacy Lynn Smith
  • Kathy Westwater
  • Stacy Lynn Smith
  • Kathy Westwater and performers in rehearsal for <em>Rambler, Worlds Worlds A Part</em>.
  • Rakia Seaborn
  • Stacy Lynn Smith and Rakia Seaborn
  • Ilona Bito
  • Alex Romania and Paul Singh
  • Stacy Lynn Smith and Rakia Seaborn
  • Roderick Murray (lighting designer) in conversation with Kathy Westwater
  • Thomas F. De Frantz, Paul Singh and Rakia Seaborn perform in showing
  • Alex Romania and Paul Singh
  • Stacy Lynn Smith and Paul Singh
  • Rakia Seaborn and Ilona Bito
  • Stacy Lynn Smith
  • Showing of <em>Rambler, Worlds Worlds A Part</em>
  • Showing of <em>Rambler, Worlds Worlds A Part</em>
  • Thomas F. De Frantz
  • Ilona Bito and Rakia Seaborn
  • Stacy Lynn Smith and Paul Singh
  • Melanie George (dramaturg) with Westwater, Romania and Tepper in post-showing discussion.
  • Thomas F. DeFrantz in post-showing discussion
  • Post-showing discussion between with Kathy Westwater and collaborators.

Collaborators in Residence: Ilona Bito, Thomas DeFrantz, Alex Romania, Rakia Seaborn, Paul Singh, Stacy Lynn Smith [Dancers], Roderick Murray [Lighting designer], Melanie George [Dramaturg], Allie Tepper [Writer]

Featured Artist

Faye Driscoll

February 22 - 24
Carolina Performing
Arts, UNC Chapel Hill


Click to close x