SALEM, OREGON: Matt Nelson

Photo: Frank Miller

Choreographer: Matt Nelson

Company: Bodysensate


Artist Statement/Philosophy/Mission Statement:

I believe the movements we make create us, and that our deepest beings conversely come forth in  movement. Dance is an art of living experience—the dance and the dancer become a single entity in  performance. Therefore, dancing together, or for each other, allows us to practice artful living. The  essence of our cognitive, emotional, and spiritual ideas are embodied in the dances we create. What  surfaces in my movement, then, is nothing less than everything I know, question, and believe.

A fuller statement is available on

Artist/Company Bio:

Matthew earned an MFA in modern dance from the University of Utah, and completed his  certification as a Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst and Therapist with Integrated Movement Studies. He currently teaches dance at Willamette University in Oregon, and has taught previously at Winona State University and Santa Barbara City College. Matthew has danced professionally with Santa Barbara Dance Theater, The University of Utah Performing Dance Co., Motion Theatre Dance Co., Dancefusion, and Anne-Marie Mulgrew and Company at The Yard. Matthew’s own choreography has been produced in Oregon, Minnesota, Utah, and California, and can be seen on his website at

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

I have transitioned from being a dancer who was told what to do to being a choreographer, teacher, and scholar of dance. I teach and direct a mainstage production at a prestigious small liberal arts university. Through this dramatic transition I have particularly come to understand the importance of dance as an act of creating community. Movement itself is exciting to me, and I have become much more clear in my own aesthetics, but the most important thing I see evolving in my work is awareness about how my own choices relate to the people I teach, choreograph on, dance with, perform for, and speak to about dance.

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

I hope to re-engage with a community that I have been a part of in the past. I often find that doing this helps me understand what in myself and my work has changed over time. I value keeping older relationships alive, but find it difficult to do if I’m not around. This is an amazing opportunity to return to Santa Barbara and its rich dance scene. This festival in particular is a venture that I would like to support within the Santa Barbara community.

 Have you participated in other festivals or showcases?

I have taught at the American College Dance Festival, have presented at conferences of organizations including the National Dance Education Association and East-West Somatics. I performed as a dancer with Santa Barbara Dance Theatre internationally. For four years I attended American Dance Festival as a student and scholarship holder.

Work that Matt will be bringing to the Festival.

Title: Thripple

Number of performers: 3

Brief Description of the Work: The work is based on investigations of S shaped curvatures in the spine and the resultant waveforms that form through the dancers’ kinespheres.