Joe Goode is a choreographer, writer, and director widely known as an innovator in the field of dance for his willingness to collide movement with spoken word, song, and visual imagery. Joe Goode Performance Group, formed in 1986, tours regularly throughout the U.S., and has toured internationally to Canada, Europe, South America, Africa, and the Middle East. Goode was awarded the United States Artists Glover Fellowship in 2008, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007, and the New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) for the creation and choreography of his work Deeply There.
In 2006 Goode directed the opera Transformations for the San Francisco Opera Center. His play Body Familiar, commissioned by the Magic Theatre in 2003, was met with critical acclaim. Goode’s performance-installation works have been commissioned by the Fowler Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles, Krannert Art Museum, the Capp Street Project, the M.H. de Young Museum, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Pennsylvania Ballet, Zenon Dance Company, AXIS Dance Company, and Dance Alloy Theater have commissioned his dance theater work, among others.
Goode is known as a master teacher; his workshops and classes in “felt performance” attract participants from around the world, and the company’s teaching residencies on tour are hugely popular. He is a member of the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley in the department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies.
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 have been making work out here for so long that I sometimes feel like I invented “west coast” dance.
What does it mean to you to be a ‘West Coast choreographer’, if anything?
As compared to the traditions of “east coast” dance, we are more influenced by contact improvisation, we care less about a dance lineage (Graham, Cunningham, Trisha Brown, etc) and more about the experience the work provides for the audience. In other words, the goal might be to provide a thrilling kinetic ride, or a spiritual ambience, or some sort of urban tribal ritual. We don’t expect the viewer to care so much about our “pedigree” or to be comparing us to our dance predecessors. They are more likely to be evaluating the experience of the work than to be looking at it with a critical eye. This liberates us in a certain way to reinvent or even discard certain forms or structures that are more sacrosanct in other dance cultures. Also, as we are geographically situated closer to the far east, we are less prone to be Eurocentric than the east coasters. Much of what you see here in the west is a hodgepodge of butoh, western concert dance, “burning man” ecstatics, American Indian ritualism. While this may sound loosy-goosy, (and it can be, at times) it is also a perfect petri dish for growing fresh and original voices.
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)?
My company. The way I work with the company is totally collaborative. They are being asked to create material in response to certain prompts I am giving them. Then we develop that material together.
Describe your aesthetic or choreographic style.
I like full bodied dancing, sensual and lush. But I also need context, some language or personal statement that draws the viewer into a thoughtful state. I have never understood why dancing should be a mute art form. The voice can bring another part of the dancer into play. In my opinion, it can humanize the work, and keep it from being merely lovely or virtuosic.
Who would you describe as your most important influences in the dance field? How would you define your artistic lineage, if any?
I never know how to answer this question. I am such a slut for influences. I am as influenced by the things I have rejected as by the things I have emulated. Many of the artistic entities that have moved me over the years have had almost nothing to do with dance- Ingmar Bergman, Meredith Monk, Joni Mitchell… It’s a very long list.
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 have never created a work this short, and so I decided to make a work about creating a work this short.
Do you often create duets? How much are they a part of your larger body of work?
Duets are what I love the most. I have to talk myself out of creating duets when I am working with my company, otherwise everything would just be duets stacked on top of each other. It is the most fertile territory for me.
How does the duet you’ve created for Double Exposure dialogue with your other work?
Perhaps it’s a little more distanced or flippant in tone. It doesn’t ask you to look too far inside, but allows you to see through the observations of these two “old friends”. In two minutes it is hard to reveal the bone. It was interesting to find another way to make the piece feel “lived in”. I enjoyed it.