Returning Choreographic Fellow | Oct 28 - Nov 15, 2015
Morgan Thorson returned to MANCC to further develop her project Still Life -- a dance installation that uses extinction as research material. Specifically, Thorson investigated the temporal and physical elements found in both performance and death, such as anticipation, endurance, totality (or embodied aliveness), survival, comfort, absence, stillness and decomposition. This long-form, ensemble choreography takes the shape of a dance cycle — a looping pattern of choreography that gradually breaks down over time. This form uses repetition and subtraction as a mark of time to ritualize what is gone and to create something new. The cycle repeats until it disappears, so that the choreography itself is actually dying.
During her residency, Thorson spoke with scholars and community experts. She met with Dr. Nicole Kelley of the Department of Religion who specializes in ancient conceptions of the body as an artifact of religious import. Dr. Geoffrey Thomas of the Department of Anthropology discussed how Forensic Anthropological practices relate to time’s effects on the expired corporeal body. Thorson’s inquiry continued with Dr. Jimmy Yu of the Department of Religion to discuss his research detailed in his book, Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700. Rocky Ezell, Funeral Director of Abbey Funeral Home and Memorial Garden, provided a contemporary view of the diverse, American cultural practices associated with commemorating the life of the deceased -- as well as the required, practical procedures involved in handling the non-extant physical body. Pam Mezzina, Bereavement Services Manager of Big Bend Hospice discussed her advocacy work around educating and caring for those mourning the loss of a loved one.
Thorson also worked with moving stillness, studying the way a still body decays over different intervals of time, and experimented with these procedures on School of Dance undergraduates and graduate candidates. The public was invited to drop into an Open Studio session, where they could watch the work in process and have the opportunity to provide feedback. Thorson cultivated extreme alertness in the performers through real-time, live directing. In this system of communication, she covertly signaled different sequences and modes of moving to the dancers during the Open Studio.