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Susan Wolfe : intelligent bodies


With interpreters: Jen Yi Hum, Francesca Cudnoff, Keira Shaw, Nina Milanovski

Susan Wolfe


  • Create several duets.

  • Develop more extensive movement vocabulary for this work and for myself.

  • Push partner work within the skirt structure.

  • Familiarize dancers with this developing work.

  • find expressions of courage and resilience.

Beginning with:

  • Theme/concept inspired by extreme intersecting family and historic events.

  • Movement material created with/on other dancers


  • To challenge what I believe I am capable of, to grow.

  • To learn from my trials and failures, discover successes.

Questions from mentors:

  • What specific aspects of the stories motivating you are you working to express?

  • What do you know from animation that is useful for creating live performance? What is it in live performance that has no relationship to animation?


  • To delve into to personal extremes.

  • To ask and to allow her dancers to go to physical extremes.

  • Continuity from Day 2 to Day 3 was challenging because of working with different interpreters on each day. However this challenged her to develop skills of “translation” to different interpreters the direction of movement ideas and intent.

  • Strategies used during CM to generate and develop material:

  • Dancers discover what they can do while wearing shared costume. Choreographer observes and takes notes.

  • Attach image names to what dancers are doing.

  • Dancers improvise in response to creator’s open questions, e.g. “What happens if…”

  • Creator takes place of one of the dancers to understand challenges and possibilities of prop (skirt).

  • Assign roles to dancers- e.g. supporter and dependent - then have them trade roles.

  • Choreographer gives dancers specific instructions - e.g. try spinning – dancers respond then choreographer hones the instruction – e.g. spin changing levels, closer then farther from each other, with extreme tension in (body-part), etc.

  • Deepen interpretations with body-specific Instruction- e.g. Pay attention mostly to vulnerable areas (base of throat, back of knees) – what kind of movement does that elicit?

  • Work with extremes.

  • Try dancing movement that was generated with costume without the costume.


  • the thing, just do the thing, keep doing the thing...

Development and Skill building:

  • Became more sensitive to keeping in mind initial thematic intent when exploring and creating movement. The theme was partly about discomfort. Developed more tolerance with feeling uncomfortable within the process.

  • Improved skills and understandings re: how to direct dancers with specific instructions from herself to them and how to use dancers’ insights and suggestions.

General Observations:

Susan has a facility to work with line, rhythm, weight shift, moving shapes through space, symmetry.

To Practice:

  • Listen with your body. The Choreographer is an artist with an intelligent body that informs her imagination and choices.

What next:

Release yourself from image- you probably won’t lose your very developed sense of form.

Get tooth and nail into the moving 3-dimensionality of the flesh and blood of live performance.


SUSAN WOLFE (2017 from Nova Scotia) is a multidisciplinary artist creating dance-based performance and animation, instigated through improvisation and autonomic-writing processes. Her studies as a medical anthropologist at McGill University and BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design as well as developing her voice through projects at the National Film Board, Atlantic Art Centre, the Animation Image Society and her family’s herstory deeply influence her current work.

with interpreters: (bio to come) Jen Yi Hum, Francesca Cudnoff, Keira Shaw, Nina Milanovski

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