Carol McDowell: Los Angeles, CA U.S.A.

Photo: Scott Growler

Choreographer: Carol McDowell

Artist Statement/Philosophy/Mission Statement:

I create dance and action scores for the concert stage and performance events that are concerned with the nuances of presence, compassion, and difference. Over the past twenty years, I have continued to choreograph improvisational dance scores in an ongoing series that I call Small Gestures. The longevity of this series has been driven by my interest in the way embodied attention, metaphor, and abstraction are communicated in small gestures, while at the same time addressing the relational complexities of living today. Most recently I have been revisiting the improvisational strategies of the late 60s/early 70s. These structures feel relevant to our present time. As I resample them in new ways I find that these structures hold parallel bodies of knowledge which inform us 40 years later. I am very interested to find out what more there is to learn through this practice, as I develop my choreography with an evolving group of skilled dance artists.

Short Artist/Company Bio:
Carol McDowell is an interdisciplinary dance artist and scholar. Her work has been at Skirball Cultural Center, Sweeney Art Gallery, Highways, The Kitchen, DTW and PS122. Most recently she was part of UCLA Hothouse Artist Residency, Anatomy Riot and Jerri Allyn’s project Debating through the Arts. Grants have come from Forum Kerja Koreografer, Indonesian Dance Festival, National Dance/Media Fellowship, Asia Pacific Performance Exchange, Djerassi Foundation, Colorado Arts Council, Education Institute of Colorado, Jerome Foundation, DIA Art Foundation, and Hawaii Department of Education.

McDowell has performed in works by Cheng-Chieh Yu, Barbara Dilley, Eileen Myles, Karen Finley, Pooh Kaye, Yvonne Meier, Tim Miller and Kei Takei. As Director of Naropa University’s Performing Arts Center she co-founded the Mariposa Collective. In LA, she co-founded max10 performance lab and was co-curator of 18th Street Arts Center’s Crazy Space. A celebrated lighting designer, McDowell received a 2002 Lester Horton Award and a 1985 BESSIE.

She now teaches at several colleges while completing her PhD dissertation for UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Culture.

Describe some of your achievements over the course of the last five years:


In the past two years I have begun to create new dance scores for the concert stage again with an evolving collective of skilled dance artists who are committed to this work. The first ensemble work, Surrender (premiere 6/09 Diavolo Studio and performed 8/09 Anatomy Riot and 3/10 El Camino College), led to a 2010 Hothouse Residency and the beginning of a new work, This is Joy for me.

10/10: choreography for Annie Okay, a play by A. Hartman, Machine Projects/Hammer Museum;

9/10: Freedom of Speech, action score, Debating through the Arts, an interdisciplinary performance project by J. Allyn, St. Elmo’s Village and 24th Street Theater (12/09)

7/10: performed Sound, a solo dance score by A. Hoffman at Sonic Body, Pieter PASD;

5/10: performed small gestures and songs for the ether, NorOr, an evening of live art meditations organized with M. Carranza, Pieter PASD;

6/10: choreography for Time Marches On, an art film by E. Cosgrove;

1/10: performed a Surveillance Solo in R. Alson-Milkman’s work at Highways;

10/09-3/10: co-curated Instruments of Risk, a series of new performance works at Sea and Space Explorations, with A. Hartman.

What do you hope to gain from the experience of participating in this festival?

I would like to expand my artistic network and practice. I hope to meet, converse, and exchange ideas with a larger group of dance and movement practitioners than I might here in Los Angeles, where I do situate my artistic practice on the border between the genres of dance and performance, as well as the concert stage and performance events where I create scores for the audience to perform.

Have you participated in other festivals or showcases?

Yes, showcases in NYC, Colorado and LA, and festivals in Indonesia and Europe.

If so – what were elements you enjoyed and what areas do you think could have been improved on?

In all cases I have enjoyed meeting a group of artists and audience members I might not have come into contact with. The Festivals and showcases that I have enjoyed most include some component of facilitated conversational or physical exchange between the artists, and/or between the artists and the audience in the form of collaborative workshops, work-in-progress showings, post show discussions, and other forums that encourage a conversational exchange of ideas. The key to a satisfying dialogue in all cases that went well, seemed to be an engaged, disciplined, and compassionate facilitator.

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