Movement artists Andrea Olsen and Kirstie Simson met virtually in this public talk (Andrea Olsen in Massachusetts, USA and Kirstie Simson at Siobhan Davies Studios in London) to discuss the importance of embodied knowledge for the future we are facing. How can artistic practices build resilience, grounding, and skills to equip us for meeting life’s challenges and joys?
Experiential practices with integrated discourse have much to offer as we move forward in this time of climate crisis and global interconnectivity. Andrea and Kirstie speak from their experiences of having been immersed in dedicated movement practices for more than four decades, the ‘impact of place’ on our body-minds. They consider how these practices and the moments of epiphany they have engendered have shaped their lives.
At times during the conversation, they leave talking behind and move together. During the event they invited the Zoom and live audiences to move with them; we have chosen to leave these moments unedited in the audio talk, with the invitation that the listener might choose to move or simply rest during this time.
Andrea Olsen, dance artist, author, and educator, is a Professor Emeritus of Dance at Middlebury College. She is author of a triad of books on the body: Bodystories: A Guide to Experiential Anatomy, Body and Earth: An Experiential Guide, and The Place of Dance: A Somatic Guide to Dancing and Dance Making with colleague Caryn McHose, along with chapters in anthologies.
Recent projects include continuing the Body and Earth: Seven Web-Based Somatic Excursions film project with Scotty Hardwig and Caryn McHose and performing Awakening Grace: Six Somatic Tools.
Kirstie Simson has been a continuous explosion in the contemporary dance scene, bringing audiences into contact with the vitality of pure creation in moment after moment of virtuoso improvisation. Called “a force of nature” by the New York Times, she is an award-winning dancer and teacher who has “immeasurably enriched and expanded the boundaries of New Dance” according to Time Out Magazine, London. Kirstie is renowned today as an excellent teacher, a captivating performer and a leading light in the field of Dance Improvisation whose practice spans four decades. For the past thirteen years she has been a tenured professor in the Department of Dance at the University of Illinois.
In August 2020 Kirstie returned to her home base in Wales from where she continues to share her work internationally. She spent the last year immersed in the Welsh countryside, swimming in the rivers. Her work reflects this new focus as she explores the relevance of an artistic practice that can help us develop resilience in the face of catastrophe. Her new research considers how embodied intelligence will be advantageous as we undertake the momentous challenge to shift our consciousness from a human-centric perspective to a lived understanding that we are an integral part of life, from which an attitude of respect and care will naturally arise.
Kirstie is excited to be currently serving on the Academic Advisory Board for the Black Mountains College in Wales. BMC is a cutting-edge project – an academic/practice-based curriculum marrying the Arts and Sciences, designed to create an innovative degree course of planet-centric education towards building a better future which will launch in September 2022.
These bios are published as submitted in 2022.