Jennifer Monson, Artistic Director of iLAND-interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art Nature and Dance, will discuss the choreographic processes she has developed in relation to her study of environmental systems. Topics will cover interdisciplinary collaboration, approaches to methodology and research, articulating embodied approaches to knowledge across disciplines as well as accessing different communities and creative approaches to create dialogue and heightened awareness of our interaction with the natural and built environments we inhabit.
Learn more at www.ilandart.org
Jennifer Monson (Artistic director, choreographer and performer, iLAND) uses choreographic practice as a means to discover connections between environmental, philosophical and aesthetic approaches to knowledge and understandings of our surroundings. As Artistic Director of iLAND she creates large scale dance projects informed and inspired by phenomena of the natural and the built environment Her project BIRD BRAIN (2000-2011) includes the theatrical work Flight of Mind (2005) and four migratory tours: Gray Whales (Spring 2001); Ospreys (Fall 2002); Ducks and Geese (Spring 2004); and Northern Wheatears (Fall 2011). Each tour followed the migrations of animals offering performances, workshops and panel discussions on navigation, migration and conservation.
In 2007 she created iMAP/Ridgewood Reservoir, a yearlong research and performance practice in an abandoned reservoir in NYC. She is currently working on the Mahomet Aquifer Project in Illinois and Light Weight/Sky Bit which will open the Planet U Environmental Conference at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign April of 2009. In addition through the iLAB residency project of iLAND, Monson supports and mentors collaborative opportunities for movement based artists, scientists, environmentalists and others interested in our physical relationships to space and systems as a means to engage the public in a kinetic understanding of NYC's urban environment. Monson is currently on the faculty at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign in the Dance Department. She was hired through an initiative of the Environmental Council to foster sustainability across the campus and nationally.
Since 1983 when she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College Monson has been pursuing an original approach to experimental dance forms in NYC. In that time she created a wide body of work that incorporates well-developed collaborative relationships with many artists including Zeena Parkins, Kenta Nagai, DD Dorviller, Yvonne Meier, David Zambrano and John Jasperse among others. Major works include The Pigeon Project (2000); The Glint (1998); Sender (1997); La Mer (1995); Tackle Rock (1993) and Ursa's Door (1990). In 2000 her work shifted its focus towards issues of environmental awareness and sustainability. Her current projects integrate a wide range of communities and creative approaches to create dialogue and heightened awareness of our interaction with the natural and built environments we inhabit.
Monson has received a Guggenheim Fellowship (2004), a Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art Fellowship (1998), the Lambent Fellowship in the Arts (2007), the National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer's Fellowship (1989, 1992, 1993-95, 1995-97), and the New York Foundation for the Arts Artists Fellowship (1989,1998, 2008). Monson's choreographic achievements have been recognized by two Bessie's (New York Dance and Performance Awards), in 2006 for BIRD BRAIN and in 1997 for Sender and sustained achievement in the dance field. Her work has also been supported by Creative Time Inc, Dancing in the Streets, Movement Research, The Open Meadows Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, and the Martha Porter Fund, and, in collaboration with composer Zeena Parkins, by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Meet the Composer and the American Composers Forum. Her work has been reviewed by such writer/critics as Ann Cooper Albright, Sally Banes, Jennifer Dunning and Deborah Jowitt. The BIRD BRAIN Osprey Migration was reported on CBS radio The Osgood Files. The BIRD BRAIN Duck and Geese Migration was profiled in the "One Small Step" column of the Sept/Oct 2003 issue of Sierra Magazine. The iMAP/Ridgewood Reservoir project was reported on National Public Radio April 07 and in Orion Magazine April/May 2008 and Audubon Magazine July 2008.
BIRD BRAIN has been awarded grants from the Multi-Arts Production Fund, (2000, 2003, 2005), the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) BUILD Program (2000, 2004), Creative Capital Foundation (1999-2001), the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the New England LEF Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and Altria Group, Inc. The BIRD BRAIN Duck and Geese Migration also received an NPN Community Fund grant for the creation of an educational resource guide and documentation and evaluation. Flight of Mind has received support from the Multi-Arts Production Fund, the American Music Center Live Music for Dance Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bossak-Heilbron Charitable Foundation, the National Performance Network Creation Fund, and The National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts.
She is an active member of NYC's "downtown dance" world curating, performing and teaching. Most recently she curated the Movement Research Improvisation Festival "Sidewinder" which fostered cross- generational and international conversations on improvisational practice with Steve Paxton and 10 diverse artists from Europe and the United States. Since 1985, Monson and composer Zeena Parkins have been committed to an ongoing investigation of the dynamic interplay of dance and music. Monson also has collaborated and performed extensively with Yvonne Meier and performed in the work of Cathy Weis, DANCENOISE, Karen Finley, Eileen Myles & Ellen Fisher, Lisa Kraus, Fred Holland, John Zorn, Yoshiko Chuma, John Bernd, Pooh Kaye/Eccentric Motions and Jennifer Miller's Circus AMOK, among others. For several years she curated two dance/music improvisation series in New York City (Hothouse at Performance Space 122 and Dive-in at Danspace Project at St. Marks Church) and has a strong commitment to improvisation as a performance form. She has participated in improvisational festivals in New York, Seattle, Stuttgart, Minneapolis, Montreal and San Francisco as a teacher, performer and panelist. Monson is a dedicated teacher to a wide range of communities in New York City. From 2002-2004 she participated in Dance Theater Workshops Public Imaginations Program through The Neighborhood School and incorporated the BIRD BRAIN educational resource guide into fourth grade studies as well as included a group of five students in the Flight of Mind performances. From 1996-1998 she was a NYFA Artist in Residence at The Neighborhood School where she integrated movement and music into the science/physics curriculum for the third and fourth grades; she also directed two projects with El Puente's Academy for Peace and Justice in her community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Brinca Charcos (1995) and THE SUGAR PROJECT (1997). Her early childhood class from Children's Liberation Daycare can be seen on the TV show "Sesame Street".
Monson teaches improvisation and composition. She has taught widely in NYC and at various colleges throughout the U.S., and internationally at The International Summer School of Dance, Tokyo, Japan; The Performance Space, Sydney, Australia; Chisenhale Dance Space, London, England; Center for New Dance Development, Arnhem, Holland; Festival de Danza Post Moderna, Caracas, Venezuela; Acarte, Lisbon, Portugal; Bagamoyo College of Art, Bagamoyo, Tanzania; and in Havana, Cuba. In spring 1995, she co-taught a course at Carleton College, MN with Laura Schere entitled 'Moving Queer Bodies - power, performance and cultural re-alignment'. This course combined cultural studies and queer theory with dance history and contemporary approaches to performance and political strategies.