floating in the back of my mind, a word or an idea. It’s like going into
a really wide field, and you don’t know which way you’re going to go.
You can stay in one place, but it’s quite spacious.
See her work: Poor People’s TV Room, April 19–22, 26–29 at New
York Live Arts
I find dance theater to be a difficult term. When theater-based people
use movement, they don’t call it “theater dance.” They might say
“physical theater” or “experimental theater.” It’s funny, the qualifications that seem to happen when dance-based artists work outside of
dance. I relate more to the word performance—it’s more open—and the
idea of grabbing from whatever’s needed to make the work.
Whether there are words or no words, music or no music, it’s all
interrelated and coming from a similar source of a desire to create. I’m
really interested in story, but I have very little interest in plot or telling
a story. I’m more concerned with the efforts of storytelling, the labor
to convey meaning, the sense of going on a journey through something
and just riding that feeling, without necessarily a linear comprehension
See her work: Thank You For Coming: Play, June 19–21 at Lower
Manhattan Cultural Council’s River to River Festival, Oct. 20–22 at
Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, and Nov. 9–12 at Museum of
Contemporary Art/Chicago; Thank You for Coming: Attendance, July
5–9 at Jacob’s Pillow
When I came here [to New York, from Brazil] I started studying with
the people from Twyla Tharp’s company. The investigation of movement and the problems it would offer up, like your arms do 7 counts,
your legs do 3, the impossibility of those coordinations—that was my
At the same time I was very attracted to humor and interested in
If I wasn’t borrowing from famous playwrights, I was repeating
process, exposing the process of making something and the accidents
in a rehearsal and the absurdity of it. Early on I did a piece based on
an Ionesco play, in which Peter Richards and I were two old ladies. We
were looking at absurd theater as a way to break from formal movement,
what we did dance theater, but it was very theatrical.
verbatim what had happened in the studio; I wasn’t trying to be a writer.
But in 1993 I got together with George [Emilio Sanchez], an actor and
writer doing solo performance at this moment of identity politics. I was
interested in that, too, so the work became much more political. We’ve
worked together for over 20 years, and it’s the most excruciating difficulty—the competition between us, and the difficulties of what’s more
important, the words or the movement?
See her work: Getting Away with Murder, June 2–4 at La MaMa, New
York City n
Contributing writer Siobhan Burke covers dance in The New York Times.
In Praise of Dancers:
Okwui Okpokwasili on
“Dancer” vs. “Mover”
“I have a deep love and appreciation for
dancers. And because of that, sometimes
I’ll call myself a mover, because I feel like
dancers are saints. They work so hard,
they take classes, they don’t get health
insurance. Their ability to come into the
unknown and commit to multiple languages
without question—I find it so generous
and beautiful. I don’t know that I’m that
generous. People can’t just walk around
calling themselves a dancer.”
Hoffbauer (left) in her
Para-Dice (Stage 2)
Thank You For