Carlson borrows from the disciplines of dance, performance, theater, visual and conceptual art, often dismantling conventional boundaries between artist and subject. Carlson’s work takes the form of solo dance/performance, site-specific projects, duet and ensemble theatrical works, and performance/video. She often works within a series format, creating socially engaged performance structures over a period of years that adapt and tour to multiple sites.
Carlson is the recipient of over thirty commissions and numerous awards for her artistic work. Her awards include; a 2015 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, two American Masters awards, five Multi-Art Production Fund Grants, a Rockefeller Seed Grant, a USA Artist Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and a Fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Art. She was an artist fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies Fellowship/Harvard University and at Stanford University’s Humanities Center. Carlson has received three awards from the National Choreographic Initiative; a Doris Duke Award for New Work; the first Cal/Arts Alpert Award in Choreography, and a prestigious three-year choreographic fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2013, Carlson was invited by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation to be in residence on Captiva Island, Florida. She is currently in residence at the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA.
Carlson has made a number of performance works with live animals. Horses, dogs, cats, cows, fish, goats have made their way into works by Carlson. Her current project, “Doggie Hamlet,” is a performance with a herding dog, a flock of sheep, and four human performers. Carlson also adapted her 1988 work “Animals” for the renowned Children’s Theater Company, Minneapolis, MN. This work entitled “Animal Dances”, is a series of dances involving two dogs, a turtle, a chicken, baby goats and a fish geared towards audiences one – 4 years old. Animal Dances premiered in March, 2016.
Carlson has had a long-term collaboration with video maker Mary Ellen Strom, resulting in several single channel performance videos that are held in several private and museum collections. In addition, Carlson/Strom made several site-specific works, including the large-scale work, Geyserland, in which the audience boarded a train and traveled 25 miles over the Bozeman Pass in Montana viewing projections and performances on the landscape. Stanford University was both the site and inspiration of Carlson’s latest work, The Symphonic Body. A performance/orchestral work made entirely of gestures; The Symphonic Body had its second incarnation at The Center for the Art of Performance on UCLA’s campus in November 2015.
Artist Questionnaire for Double Exposure
How long have you been making your own work as a choreographer? How long have you been making work on the West Coast?
I’ve been making work professionally since l986.
I’ve had a relationship with the west coast since l987, performing my work over the years at; Sushi in San Diego, at Life on the Water, Yerba Buena Center, SFCameraWorks in San Francisco, L.A.C.E, The Museum of Contemporary Art/Geffen Center in LA. I’ve had long affiliation with UCRiverside, Stanford, UCLA.
Being based here over the last four years has taken me a bit by surprise, but I am enjoying it very much.
Who generally performs your work – yourself, your company, a pick-up company, other companies, etc.? How collaboratively do you work with your dancers (if applicable)?
Who performs my work is quite varied. I have a body of work that is performed by non traditional performers, lawyers, security officers, nuns, development directors, scientists, etc., this continues with a current project called The Symphonic Body. The Symphonic Body is a gestural orchestral work performed by people who work in any institution, corporation, small business, or school. I also have a solo practice; I make work for myself. In addition, trained dancers have performed a lot of my work as well.
Describe your aesthetic or choreographic style.
I am delighted by everyday functional full body motion; that is then translated into abstract movement language. I enjoy looking at and doing motion that is generated from a sense of surrender and abandonment. I love the movement of animals, human and non-human and that informs most of my movement choices. I am influenced by minimalism, socially engaged practices, and integrating voice and motion.
Who would you describe as your most important influences in the dance field? How would you define your artistic lineage, if any?
Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine, Maguy Marin, Simone Forti, Meredith Monk, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown, Susan Rethorst, Eiko and Komo, Pat Graney, Elizabeth Streb, Morgan Thorson . . .
Artistic Lineage is too in depth to answer here. (Maybe later?)
Where do you start with a commission like this – the relationship, an image, a piece of music, a movement phrase, etc.?
Have you ever previously created a work this short? How does the duration impact your decisions/process, if at all?
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this time limitation. Yes, I have made work before with short time limits.
Do you often create duets? How much are they a part of your larger body of work?
How does the duet you’ve created for Double Exposure dialogue with your other work?
It is part of a series of works that utilize that vocal chant, so in that way the duet for Double Exposure #1 is deeply connected to a long investigation about language and its beginnings; the frailty and limitation of spoken language. There is a tongue in cheek reference to an earlier work about a gorilla.