Dance Innovators: Research in Performance

with performances by


Thu, AUG 10 | 6:30 PM

12th Ave Arts | 1620 12th Ave


TICKETS: $20 | $30 | $50

Dance Innovators: Research in Performance is a festival-style showcase that provides a glimpse into the current explorative work of celebrated choreographers and faculty of the 2023 Seattle Festival of Dance + Improvisation Research Week. Join us for an evening where national and local dance artists come together to share short, experimental performances by Faye Driscoll, Ryuta Iwashita, Mariana Valencia, Alia Swersky, NEVE, and Victoria Vinson-Jacobs.




Faye Driscoll is a Doris Duke Award-winning art and performance maker who has been hailed as a “startlingly original talent” by The New York Times and “a postmillenium postmodern wild woman” by The Village Voice. She uses an alchemy of bodies and voices, objects and live sound to conjure worlds that are, like ourselves, alive and forever changeable. She was the 2021-2022 Randjelovic/Stryker Resident Commissioned Artist at New York Live Arts, and is the recipient of a Doris Duke Artist Award, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Bessie award and the Jacob’s Pillow Artist Award among many others. Her work has been presented at Wexner Center for the Arts, Walker Art Center, ICA/Boston, MCA Chicago and BAM, and internationally at Tanz im August, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, La Biennale di Venezia, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Melbourne Festival, Belfast International Arts Festival, Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens and Centro de Arte Experimental in Buenos Aires. In 2020, her first-ever solo exhibition, Come On In, opened at Walker Art Center and then went on to Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, On the Boards, and Esplanade in Singapore, offering gallery-goers an experience of six distinct audio-guided experiences called Guided Choreographies for the Living and the Dead which were celebrated as “experiential training in how to inhabit this unbearable new world” (Miriam Felton-Dansky). She is working on a series of sculpture/performances and recently premiered two; Calving (2022) at Theater Bremen (Bremen, Germany), and Weathering (2023) at New York Live Arts.



Ryuta Iwashita (they/them) currently lives and improvises in Bulbancha (also colonially known as New Orleans) in the USA as a movement/performance/visual artist and educator after living in Japan for 25 years. Their artistic lexicons are rooted in dance improvisation, social justice, somatics, martial arts, child education, and ancestral work including 祖体 (SOTAI) of which Ryuta is its conceiver.

Their work and teaching move and respond to mystic juxtapositions of phenomena, systems, and galaxies, — the one between their Japanese heritage and their westernized life in the Southern US, between a day of organic farming and a night of MSG-heavy instant noodles, between their beloved’s indulge in watching TikTok and their grandfather’s indulge in eating raw chicken gizzards, and between their internal organs and their ancestors moving and pausing as stars.

Their work and teaching have been accepted by internationally renowned organizations such as Chang Theatre (Thailand), Kirishima Open Air Museum (JAPAN), Contact Improv Dance Chengdu (CHINA), Jacob’s Pillow (MA), Tulane University (LA), University of Colorado (CO), Judson Memorial Church (NY), New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center (LA), and Seattle Festival of Dance Improv (WA).

Their current interest is to know who I am in love with today.



Choreographer and performer, Mariana Valencia is based in New York City. She received a BA at Hampshire College in Massachusetts in 2006 and her work has toured nationally and internationally in the UK and the Balkans. Valencia works through dance, text, and sound using humor, abstraction, and self-representation. Valencia has held numerous residencies and received awards for her choreography including the Creative Capital Award 2023, a Bessie Award for “Outstanding Breakout Choreographer” 2018, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award to Artists 2018, a Jerome Travel and Study Grant 2016. She was a 2019 Whitney Biennial artist. Her commissions include, Baryshnikov Arts Center, The Chocolate Factory Theater, Danspace Project, The Shed, Performance Space New York and Abrons Arts Center. Valencia is a founding member of the No Total reading group and she has been the co-editor of Movement Research’s Critical Correspondence. She’s worked with artists AK Burns, Elizabeth Orr, Em Rooney, Fia Backstrom, Geo Wyeth, Guadalupe Rosales, Jazzy Romero, Juliana May, Jules Gimbrone, Kim Brandt, Lauren Bakst, Lydia Okrent, Morgan Bassichis, MPA, O’Helen, robbinschilds and Heera Gandhu. Valencia has published two books of performance texts, “Album” (Wendy’s Subway) and “Mariana Valencia’s Bouquet” (3 Hole Press).



Alia Swersky is a movement artist, performer and educator deeply engaged in dance improvisation, durational time-based art, film, site-specific work, and environmental installation. She is an artist and an educator with degrees from Cornish College of the Arts and an MFA in dance from the University of Washington.

Her artistic path over the last two decades has been shaped by this yearning for deep and meaningful connections with people and places. As a co-creator, ritual maker, and a “horizontal” director, Alia seeks to touch others through dance, somatic presence, vulnerability, and fierceness. Her work ranges from full audience participation to intimate acts of One-to-One performances, site-specific dances for film and live performance, as well as durational time-based art that includes physical acts of endurance, repetition, stillness, subtlety, singing, soft energetic grace, abstraction, caricature, and a deconstruction of clichés such as extreme high femme expressions. Her teaching and art-making seek to create practices that embrace endurance on stage and in life as acts of resistance, resilience, release, and beauty.

As a performer, Alia has also toured nationally and internationally as a member of the LeGendre Performance Group and has performed in the works with many Seattle artists, some of which include The Maureen Whiting Company, Khambatta Dance Company, Jurg Koch, KT Niehoff, and Salt Horse.

As an educator, she has taught at Cornish College of the Arts for sixteen years and in the Seattle community at Velocity’s Strictly Seattle Festival, and the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation (SFDI). She was a long time Co-artistic director of Dance Art Group (DAG), a non-profit organization that promotes the practice and appreciation of dance and somatic education in the Seattle area, including the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation.



Born in 1989, NEVE grew up disabled, mixed-race, and queer on a river in the part of New Jersey where they drive trucks and horse-drawn wagons over the rolling green hills (Lenni Lenape). NEVE began dancing professionally in 1998 with the all-Black, Harlem, NY-based integrated dance company Def Dance Jam Workshop.

NEVE received their BA in dance and visual culture in 2012 from Hampshire College, and moved to the Bay Area to work with/in Sins Invalid, AXIS Dance Company, and queer porn in 2013. In 2014, NEVE met one of their life partners while on tour with cabaret Mangos with Chili, and moved to Seattle (Duwamish) to be with him more often in 2016. Here, NEVE has premiered two evening-length musical dance works in 2018 at Gay City Arts, and in 2019 at Velocity Dance Center.

NEVE is a 2020 Pina Bausch Fellow, a 2022 Arc Artist Fellow, and a 2022 Disability Ford Futures Fellow! Their latest major choreographic work, “Flora hereafter: how flowers survive” premiered in AXIS Dance Company’s 2021 Home Season at Z Space in SF, and has toured to Frankfurt, Dubai, and New Jersey.

NEVE loves life, the delights and pains of embodiment and love, the sparkle-ache and promise of growth, the higher power inside all of us, the earth’s lullabies and war cries, drinking color, and kissing/thinking/dreaming/learning/winning with their local and international queer family (especially their cat child Caravaggio).

NEVE believes in God(exxes), Collective Access and Liberation, Transformative Justice, Land Back, Right of Return, Reparations, Anarchism (in relationships and governance), the Loch Ness Monster, the Multiverse, the concept that all living beings are people, and
You. They are currently a contributing writer for the South Seattle Emerald, and collaborate with their confidante in arms, fellow Seattle multidisciplinary artist Saira Barbaric as themselves, and as Mouthwater. Stay tuned for news of the 2024 Mouthwater dance festival, which Mouthwater is producing as Velocity Dance Center Made in Seattle artists. @mouthwaterdance on IG and



Victoria is a certified SPRe Somatic Educator and Bodyworker as well as a certified GYROTONIC and GYROKINESIS trainer. She has been teaching embodied practices in New York and Seattle since 2004, including contemporary and classical dance, improvisation, somatic writing and artmaking.

Victoria’s work begins with anatomy understood as an interconnected fascial system where all the parts affect one another. From there she layers how emotional and historical patterns also shape our moving, feeling bodies. She works to create language that accurately expresses your own body’s sensations/emotions. Artistically this creates multi-layered bodies of work, and as a student, this process can help you make more sense to yourself and feel equipped to speak and act on your needs, wants and desires. The movement and creation is our way of attuning to the sensations of your tissue, as well as updating your structure to match your emotional understanding.

There is nothing she loves more than coming to understand each person’s story as your body speaks. She approaches this work with gentle, abundant curiosity about how your body is communicating your history, your feelings, your ambitions, and your blocks. Structural anatomy is the blueprint for all of our work, whether it’s movement-based rehabilitation, or emotionally intelligent bodywork. She is always working with all the parts of you.

“I believe that movement is life, and where there is flow there is pulsation, abundance, creativity and growth. Where there is tension or a lack of movement, there is information about our experience. “


The Seattle Festival of Dance + Improvisation is made possible with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and the King County Festival and Events Fund. It is also supported by our community of individual donors, community partners, and arts advocates.