Katie Workum’s dances attempt to access the parts of us that have no words, the parts humming underneath our thinking brains; surpassing expression and pushing into parallel systems of being. She is interested in using performance to create community, and strives to create a generous space between dancer and viewer to broaden our specific viewpoints and bring us to a broader collective.
"Workum has the courage of her idiosyncrasies… the appealing cast moves… into some unpredictably delightful terrain."
—Brian Seibert, The New Yorker
"The whimsical Ms. Workum builds up and breaks down tensions between enclosed spaces and boundless ones, between private rituals and group dynamics."
—Siobhan Burke, New York Times
Here Are The Mountains
Here Are The Mountains is a performance, process and community that offers a living exploration of what we return to and why:
Part 1, PERFORMANCE, is an evening-length dance created live by Katie Workum, Eleanor Smith, and Weena Pauly. This celebrated veteran group deepens their previous work (Black Lakes which premiered and toured 2014–15) within open content scores and pushes tendencies and patterns of moving, being, relating and doing until these caches of habit give way to new and vital rituals and freedoms. With urgency and necessity, they make a large and vetted space for electric, kinetic clarity.
Part 2, PUBLIC PRACTICE, is a public installation and dance performed by anyone occupying the same intentional communal space. It challenges the distinction of expert and amateur by creating a place of community, stillness and empathy.
Focused on the creative act rather than the result, Here Are The Mountains builds on Workum’s practice of Authentic Movement, critical group discussions, and open improvisations to yield a living, breathing dance that breeds a new way of connecting. It feels like empathy, like an open hand, like life.
In a celebration of authenticity Katie Workum’s Black Lakes asserts the joyous and spontaneous celebration of the mundane. Seeking to strip down her own pre-existing perceptions of theatricality, Black Lakes creates an environment of inclusion and presence where the choreography is simply all of us together, mindful and aware. Utilizing authentic movement, the performative histories and deep embodiment of her collaborators, Bessie-nominated Eleanor Smith (movement) and Weena Pauly (movement) will nightly restructure themselves with and without one another. Additoinal collaborators include Bessie-award winning James Lo (Sound) and Carrie Wood (lighting). Black Lakes the performance is an improvisation, passing through eyes closed and opened, unison, partnering, solos, duets and trios. Asserting that humans have at our fingertips a deep attunement with each other, allowing great physical risks as well as intense focus and intuition. The viewer takes the performances’ opened-up time and space to consider what it is to witness, seeing something new unfold before their eyes. The performer takes their time to plug into the reality of the situation and respond through movement; everyone on the ride at the same time.
Black Lakes is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts.
NYC Premiere: Danspace, April 2015
Performed at MASS MoCA, co-presented with Jacob’s Pillow, October 24, 2015
Teaching at BKSD: September 21, October 19, November 16, December 21 at 7 PM
Authentic Movement is an improvisational technique in which a witnessed person moves with eyes closed for an extended period of time responding to impulse alone. Deepening our intuitive and intellectual selves, we can become a dancing whole entity: equal parts mind, body, choice and intuition. This class is for anyone who wants to stop and take a breath, to look at what you have been taking for granted, to expand then release, meld feeling and knowing, re-assign hierarchies between expertise and honesty and to learn and be humbled by the great unknown.
"This piece is serious and ambitious: it's a place where women, big or little, have a chance to loosen the binds and run free."
—Gia Kourlas, New York Times
Fruitlands draws from Workum's interest in the American Transcendentalists, particularly Bronson Alcott, his failed commune Fruitlands, his daughter Louisa May Alcott and her great work, Little Women. The Transcendentalists posed many questions which were considered radical for the 19th century: How do we live freely? Where is God? How do we hold more and allow more in? Bronson was a great thinker and idealist, but his family suffered under his many misguided pursuits; while Louisa, a great, sharp mind and among the most forward thinking philosophers of her time, was restricted as a woman. How was she able to she succeed? How free are her Little Women? How did her great brain live within her own societal container? How does one sculpt a full and open life?
Fruitlands was a commission from The Chocolate Factory for the 2011–12 season. One hour.
Performed by: Molly Lieber, Marilyn Maywald, Weena Pauly, Katy Pyle
Original sound by Jonathan Pratt
Costumes by Bonkuk Koo
Lighting by Carrie Wood
Performed at the Chocolate Factory, April 2012