Living and making work in the Northwest for the past ten years, for me, is to exist inside a push and pull of geographical, cultural, and historical demarcations of which I have chosen voluntarily but also do not have full control. I am interested in all the connotations implied by boundaries and borders; interested in what it means to exist inside defined edges. The parameters that we create and that are created for us.
Some strictures, such as coping mechanism built from past experiences or the inability to conform to cultural norms, spur creative solutions that make these borders obsolete. This is often a source of creative thinking, and I believe that aesthetic concerns of Northwest dance-makers, as in most areas of the U.S., arise partly from creating work within the stricture of limited resources. What differentiates the Northwest is our diverse interests in the arts, culture, politics and our tendency to be highly educated combined with a DIY attitude, which is partly influenced by environmental consciousness. This has led many artists in the area to ingenuously lo-fi, yet highly complex, solutions of making work.
I would call this mode post-disciplinarianism as coined by former Seattleite Syniva Whitney, themself a dancemaker/performer, sculptor, writer, burlesque performer/producer, and gender issues thinker. Post-disciplinary artists seem to use as many artistic mediums as desired in order to realize creative work. They move beyond terms like “site-specific” or “alternative” or “cross-disciplinary,” allowing performance to exist fluidly with other modes of art-making. I see this as an extension of Jacques Derrida’s concept of “text,” in which words carry inside them the potential meaning of all the connotational uses by which they have previously been written and spoken throughout history. Like this assimilation of all potential contexts, dance-makers must be allowed to also be writers, painters, poets, activists, and theorists. Quilters, actors, musicians, and chefs. Sculptors, librarians, cyclists, and playwrights. To cull from a fully-rounded sense of individual identity and to invoke the entirety of the artistic canon. To me this is how New West artists can provoke something more human, something imbued with the urgency of belonging, something that transcends the sum of its parts to touch the sublime.