val smith, dance artist, Aotearoa New Zealand

Through various meanderings and blunderings through the fields of feminism, anarchism, contemporary dance training, queer thinking, contact improvisation and somatic movement research I have landing myself deep in an artistic practice focused on the body - as a site of political inference. 
As an independent choreographic artist since 2000 after graduating from Unitec’s contemporary dance programme, my choreographic practice involves experimentation with perception, intimacy, experience and interrelational encounter. I attempt to create immersive and conceptually provoking environments for performance attendees. My approach to choreography seeks to unsettle a dominant conception of what dance is. Responses to my work have been varied including expressions of fascination and intrigue, and also frustration, and feelings of confusion. The odd person expresses their experience of warmth, heart and care. My work has been presented in New Zealand, Australia and the US as part of dance and fringe festivals, curated events and as independent productions.

My current research is a choreographic practice-led project towards a Masters degree at Auckland University (2014). The project challenges the spectatorial culture common to dance and explores alternative methods for engaging with performance. Microperceptual and micropolitical strategies are employed in the development of a dance event -
Circle in Box. I draw on somatic, improvisation and site-oriented methods in this work to create ways of inviting attendees into a kinesthetically textural environment. Deleuze-inspired modes of percpetion are activated, proposing an ecology of participation in choreography.