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Dancing with the Artifacts of Pain

Researching the location of pain and it’s productive dimensions, I was drawn to personal instantiations of dance artists who’s practices challenge the representation of pain, what is beyond it, and catharsis. I interviewed 10 dance artists about their personal experiences with pain. These interviews revealed the disruptive nature of dance, as they allowed me to peer into empirical relationships between pain, imagination, and dance. Curious about the forces of pain and the forces of dance, my research questions if dance can relocate pain expanding pain’s visibility. In this paper, my goal was to connect phenomenologies of pain to the disruption of hegemonic standards of seeing and being with pain. 

    To understand how pain is used as a force, we first have to understand pain’s location. Candace B. Pert Ph.D., author of Molecules of Emotion, explains that pain, a basic human sensation, is included in her definition of emotion. “When I use the term emotion, I… include not only the familiar human experiences of anger, fear, sadness, as well as joy, contentment, and courage, but also basic sensations such as pleasure and pain, as well as ‘drive states’ studied by the experimental psychologists, such as hunger and thirst.” (131) Her research also included “other states of consciousness” which were not yet “physiologically explained.”(132) In 1982 the scientific community still described the brain and body as separate entities or if acknowledging a relationship at all, language it as “The power of the mind over the body.” (Pert 187)  Pert’s research proves that phrase inaccurate. Her theory, evidenced in theoretical papers and lectures stated that “biochemicals are the physiological substrates of emotion, the molecular underpinnings of what we experience as feelings, sensations, thoughts, drives, perhaps even spirit or soul.” (Pert 130) Could the physical, mental, and emotional experiences of pain assemble into ones “Bodymind?” (187)  Pert explains:

Mind doesn't dominate body, it becomes body– body and mind are one.[…] the flow of information throughout the whole organism, as evidence that the body is the actual outward manifestation, in physical space, of the mind. / We know that the immune system, like the central nervous system, has memory and the capacity to learn. Thus, it could be said that intelligence is located not only in the brain but in the cells that are distributed throughout the body, and that the traditional separation of mental process, including emotions from the body is no longer valid.” (Pert 187) 

Dance artists have provided substantive explanations of pain that evidence its bodymind location. Leah Stein discussed her personal definition of pain, “Physical pain, I really have a very deep relationship with it and is a whole range from sensation, information, fear, denial, and indulgence.” Leah tells me that she may soon need a hip replacement and is often in a lot of pain. “I have been working with pain on a whole other level… tapping into all the emotional and psychological pain too… it is manifested and then you can look at it…the physical pain- but it has all of these other strings, all these connectors to all of these other levels.” When it comes to pain she wants to know and understand her response “I’ve been experiencing that, when pain is fear and not necessarily injury.” She describes how painful misalignment of her body and her thoughts can be. “But then the wiring in my brain is -it’s worse to let go then to move on- … Maybe the pain is the fear, and so I won't let go, and then it hurts” Leah makes a hand gesture, her hands moving apart like she is playing with an imaginary cat’s cradle. We talk about this gesture. It represents her physical response to fear/pain and “understanding pain as information.” Jaamil Kosoko describes pain during our interview together saying:

 I think of pain as a sort of multiplicitus virus maybe; it has a way of clinging to the body. As a result, it really molds an individual in a very specific kind of way. It will encourage one to move in certain directions. It is an important sensorial reality that defines us as human. Personally, I have had a very tumultuous relationship to pain and it feels like, well… a pain monster… and it will continue to rear its ugly head. I have had to become more compassionate, learn to care for it, and not be as judgmental towards it, because pain has taught me a lot about how I am to be in the world.

I asked him about the multiplicity of the virus and found that it is emotional, physical, psychological, societal, and social. Jaamil experiences many different kinds of pain on a daily basis. “It’s not to be separated from themes of oppression, racism, any kind of phobia, that have socialized and positioned me to be in the world and to perform in a really specific way,” he explains. For Jaamil, pain is a force that has continually molded his experience. He describes how his body can consistently metabolize and reckon with pain and trauma. He has learned how to be in constant communication with pain as “it refuses to be pushed aside” and demands his “undivided attention.” He tells me that he knows two things about pain. First, “Pain does not equate to death, just because something hurts doesn’t mean it will kill you.” Secondly, there is usually something to be learned from pain. He has been languaging it as “post-traumatic enlightenment.” He explains that his dance work, such as #negrophobia, helps him reposition himself by choosing to metabolize this pain into a positive space.

Both accounts demonstrate the complexity of pain’s bodymind location, as well as the slippery objectlessness of pain. Elaine Scarry, author of The Body in Pain, The Making and Unmaking of the World strengthens this complexity:

Physical pain is exceptional in the whole fabric of psychic, somatic, and perceptual states for being the only one that has no object. Though the capacity to experience physical pain is as primal a fact about the human being as the capacity to hear, to touch, to desire, to fear, hunger, it differs from these events, and from every other bodily and psychic event, by not having an object in the external world.” (Scarry, 161) 

The object one fears is mobile and it’s proximity to us changes, creating a waning and waxing of fear and its physical manifestations.  The sensation of fear mingles with pain. This differs from the sensation of pain itself which Scarry insists has “no referential content…[and] ensures [its] unsharablity through its resistance to language” (4)  Persons in pain may find great difficulty trying to language their experience in a way that is relatable which creates a problem not only in articulating pain, but identifying it in another person. Erin Manning, author of Always More than One, Individuations Dance explains that “the modality of expression of the neurotypical tends to be language. Language is key to inclusion ...” (Manning 163). Because language is used to validate and express one’s self in neurotypical settings, can the expression of what is beyond pain, be considered as a way to expand beyond a neurotypical perception into what Erin Manning describes as “autistic-perception?” (Manning, 153) 

Jumatatu Poe talks about their own inability to language pain, saying “ I think it shows up in language as annoyance because it is dreadful to talk about pain” They begin, “I’m thinking about injury’s power to lock-in, conceal, or unlock things that have been hidden away inside one's emotional matrix.” Jumatatu talks about smell being a portal for places and emotions, and the experience of pain being a portal into reconciled or unreconciled traumas. “[Pain]’s path becomes so physical leading to a network of identity.” Then they ponder about lying as a result of one’s inexpressibility.  Illustrating their understanding of how easy it is to lie when someone doesn’t have distinctive enough language to express themselves. Jumatatu believes that in attempting to communicate, both roles, “languaging and listening unlock a whole additional story unconnected to one painful moment [but rather] reveal a whole pain matrix… How tight or loose that pain nodule is, will affect the whole tensegrity of it.”  Deceit is not the enemy because Jumatatu knows how to move beyond the doubt that pain causes, by seeing beyond one moment and into the “matrix” of ones pain. This matrix is linked to Pert’s claim of the body being the unconscious mind. (Pert 141) I argue that dance has a capacity to make the unconscious matrix of emotions, including pain perceivable. Dance’s force opens up what has in the past been unseeable and unrelated through language alone.

Annie Wilson contextualized her inability to describe pain. “I was really unable to put it into language per se and so it was really about using images." Her process consisted of moving from her uterus which would generate images, the closest constructible thing to language. Annie tells me that she needed a “series of images that would make impressions on both my body as the performer and on the audience receiving them.” The images led to developing a character and a house which translated into set and a story. “To say I feel despair is so general … Describing the images felt like getting the closest to describing what the pain was like.”

Jennifer Nugent’s relationship to pain is connected to indulgence, ego, and the desire to feel.  Although it is rare that she is negotiating with her body because of an injury, she is dealing with pain’s demand to “open herself up to something different.” The pain was a way to expand beyond herself that came from a "deep desire to know what wasn’t me.”  Jennifer reflects on her past choices to explore herself through pain describing how dancing and pain were interconnected to her “experience of aliveness.” She began learning how her ego was wrapped up in the experience of pain from reading Eckhart Tolle. Jennifer explains, “I was so wrapped up in pain, and ego and my empathic nature, but[…] that is not who I am.” She states, “There are other ideas and sensations that were not available to me when I was working in [and] triggered by pain / Now I am working in ways that I feel alive… and allow me to connect to others, other things initiate me, rather than my own narrative.” She states how she enjoys her ability to express and move with both physical and emotionally motivated pain. “It has helped me wake up and stand up for myself and not accept certain modes of behavior and certain interactions, but then I recognize that there is a whole other part of me that has been invigorated by this… pain helped me feel who I am and what I think of as being alive.”

How is it that dance artists can push against pain’s limitations? What can be learned from the dance between the self and the other? What practices do dance artists use to so that a witness can “ feel the resonance of the micro-expressions of movement in the creation difference?” (Manning 84). Many of the dance artists describe a processes of using their physicality as an agent to move “beyond [their] own experience.” (Manning 83) Manning explains:

When we move beyond our own experience, when we get disoriented in the sound of the in-between, it is the movement that takes over. Here, in the unstable arena where micromovements multiply to create microperception, new decisive turns emerge. The decisive turn is not about a personal decision- it is about the beyond of self, ‘betrayal of our own experience.” (Manning 83) 

This pivot, I argue, is essential to understanding that dance is a possible force that moves us beyond the boundaries of our self. In the introduction to Queer Dance, Clair Croft reminds us that, “Queer dance’s investment in bodies as sites to imagine, practice, cultivate, and enact social change is not just an aspiration. It is a documented outcome of our queer dancing pasts. (Croft, 14) Dance that examines identities (racial and sexual among others) along side of pain, engage us in what constitute boundaries. Croft writes, “the boundaries of private and public, protagonist and antagonist, constantly shift, making physical insistence on instability and fluidity.” (Croft 4). 

     Jaamil describes this “in-between” space as the “internal-internal.” “it is an interiority that is pain stricken.  It is odd and very personal. It is the space that we rarely share with the public,” he explains. The “internal-internal” houses both “angels and demons” and is a space where he can find refuge. He describes the use of pain as generative material for his performative practices by exploring what it means for him to embody and step inside of pain. “There is a section in #negrophobia where I wear my brother’s shoes, and these are the shoes that he was murdered in,” he says. Pain for Jaamil, is a material that he transfers from the internal space to the external world through a “transitional object.” Here his brother’s physical pain relocates to the shoes. “What I think I am working with,” Jaamil tells me, are “tactics for increasing empathy…How we care for the other essentially… whether the other is present in the flesh or not. I have been thinking a lot about how materials have memory, substance, and meaning. but most often they obtain their meaning as they relate to the body and some sort of experience whether it is painful or joyous[…] depending on how one chooses to reckon with it.”

Because pain is “objectless, [it] cannot easily be objectified in any form, material or verbal. But it is also it's objectlessness that may give rise to imagining by first occasioning the process that eventually brings forth the dense sea of artifacts and symbols that we make and move about in. (Scarry 163) Jaamil’s brother’s shoes are an artifact, charged in making his pain visible. Scarry describes the making of an artifact, “in benign forms of creation, a bodily attribute is projected into the artifact (a fiction, a made thing) which essentially takes over the work of the body, thereby freeing the embodied person of discomfort and thus enabling him to enter a larger realm of self extension.” (Scarry 144) Jaamil is relocating pain through objects into the in-between: beyond himself, beyond the shoes, where his brother becomes re-visible. Pain and imagination potentialize the mobility of sensations as well as dislocation from a linear timeline. Rebecca Schneider writes, “entering, or reenacting, an event or a set of acts (acts of art or acts of war) from a critical direction, a different temporal angle, may be, […] an act of survival, of keeping alive as passing on.” (7) Through charging materials Jaamil is able to revisit archived pain. It is not the object that is the expression of pain but the visceral relationship created between the artifact and the dance being performed. The shoes do not express the archive, without Jaamil actively practicing how to move pain into the in-between, where it can be felt by a witness. Pain and death are capable of being dislodged by dance, relocating it into an ever-unfolding, folding, unfolding fabric of the haptic and perceivable. 

Annie Wilson recounts how pain was involved in her process of making At Home with the Humorless Bastard. “It really came out of the deep distress that my menstrual cycle caused. […] If I wasn’t having cramps then I would be having horrible…mental and emotional anguish. Sometimes I would have both but it really seemed to alternate in a weird way. It was such an overwhelming amount of pain that I was in[…] it was a quality of pain that was so mysterious and kind of large in its tone.” Annie continues to describe how she has learned that this pain would never go away. She had employed many techniques to promote health but never found a solution. “I think if I am going to survive in the world with this, I have to make a piece about it because it's the only kind of container… the only way I know how to create a container to make the mystery of this more manageable or give me any kind of tools to investigate it. I really felt the sort of emotional stuff that really lived in my uterus. Really. As literally and as real as your uterus is lined with blood, I was like despair lives in my uterus as if it is a home.” Annie’s home for physical pain becomes visible in At Home with the Humorless Bastard. It is her way of extending herself into the external world and also creating windows and doors in which the external can peer into her. The stage becomes an augmentation of what is beyond her pain, beyond her body. Annie builds an architecture based on what she needs.  She continues, “When I put my mental attention on my uterus, especially when it was bleeding, it was just like all the symptoms of PMS, they really literally lived there, as like literally and physically as I can possibly say, even though it’s not in an anatomy book…From that I anthropomorphized my uterus …like it was a physical house.” Annie’s home for pain is connected to Scarry’s description of a room:

“In normal context, the room, the simplest form of shelter, expresses the most benign potential of human life. It is, on the one hand, an enlargement of the body; it keeps warm and safe the individual it houses in the same way the body encloses and protects the individual within; like the body, it’s walls put boundaries around the self preventing undifferentiated contact with the world, yet in its windows and doors, crude versions of the senses, it enables the self to move out into the world and allows that world to enter. It is simultaneously a miniaturization of the world, of civilization.” (38) 

Annie's uterus becomes the architecture for a new civilization. The boundaries of a civilization create what Lauren Berlant calls a, “politicized intimacy” which has “served as a way of turning political boundaries into visceral, emotional, and seemingly hardwired responses of ‘insiders’ to ‘outsiders.' Thus we can say that citizenship’s legal architecture manifests itself and is continually re-shaped in the space of transactions between intimates and strangers.” (37) Annie however, constructs an externalized internal space, creating a more heterogeneous civilization in which menstrual pain can be explored. Annie’s dance practices relocate pain into a field where strangers can enter interact and be viscerally moved. Instead of this home enclosing and insulating Annie’s pain, imagination and dance weave together proposing a space in which those in pain and those not in pain can move closer to one another. Pert’s research shows that although,

Most of our bodymind attentional shifts are subconscious.[…]But we do have the possibility of bringing some of these decisions into conciseness, particularly with the help of various types of intentional training that have been developed…Through visualization… we can increase blood flow into a body part… an important aspect of prioritizing and distributing the finite resources available to our body. (146) 

Dance can also “prioritize and distribute” what parts of ourselves get expressed. Paul Matteson reinforces this. He explains pain as “these blocks, these things we keep facing, it was wrapt up it success and perfectionism. I was ignoring pain because it wasn’t part of the narrative, it was wrong, and it was shameful to feel pain…There is a way of not getting the message. Not listening.” He has used methods like Body Mind Centering and Authentic movement to

get to an unwinding- allowing the stuck parts of ourselves, to give them expression. Not to fix them, but let them express themselves. And that is where it feels that there are two sides. The one side, learning about body to see where you might be out of wack a little bit[…] and bringing awareness to what you’re doing… And then there is the real dancing, conscience dancing, that sometimes willingly goes into those habits, that awkwardness, as a way to express yourself. […] there is something brave about going into the problem.” 

I reference back to Jumatatu’s image of the tensile “matrix” built by pain when thinking about the proposal to express oneself. Now I see these “nodules” moving: disassembling and reassembling. Jose Munoz writes, 

Rather than dematerialize, dance rematerializes. Dance like energy never dissipates, it is simply transformed. Queer dance, after the live act, does not just expire. The ephemeral does not equal unmateriality. It is more nearly about another understanding of what matters. It matters to get lost in dance or to use dance to get lost. (Munoz 81)  

Not only can dance rematerialize the personal it can also rematerialize the collective. When talking about pain and its impact on the masses, one cannot avoid looking at the impact of HIV/AIDS. Ishmael Houston-Jones talks about the recreation of Them, in his interview. 

In Them, I was trying to over come my fear of death by dancing with…a dead goat carcass….but also to actually physicalize the horror of the AIDS epidemic and the fear of AIDS. There is a blindfolded dancer in a shirt that looks like a hospital gown, it is open in the back, wrestling with this carcass. It was to sort of have this nightmarish vision of what that was…. It was about “relationships and broken relationships, and trying to hold on, trying to dance with this thing that was unyielding and heavy and painful to embrace- un-embraceable and sort…of really moving through that. I never know what’s through that. As a performer I never know, as an improviser it changes every time I do it.

Originally in 1986, Ishmael tells me that “people hated it, they walked out, it got the most negative reviews I’ve ever gotten,” but in 2010 Them received a very different response. “People were throwing roses and standing ovations…people have distance from the material from this everyday horror of the AIDS crisis even though it is still going on…it’s not so much that the performers are different, which they were, but it was that the context in which it was being performed was different” 

    Dance offers an opportunity to “find another understanding” to “embrace the unembraceable” to literally look at wrestling with "fear, fear of death, fear of dying, and fear of mortality” (Houston-Jones) and look again, and understand again. Anna Martina Whitehead argues for dances ability to “disrupt the straight narrative of rise and fall.” She explains, “It is a practice around and through loss, a scary dance, and a sorrowful one, too - as sad as its is ecstatic, as ecstatic as it is subtly complex. And perhaps more than providing a context in which our right to life can be named, these dances exist for us to remind ourselves that we are alive in the first place.”(288) 

Prompting Danspace Project’s Lost and Found Dance, New York, HIV/AIDS, Then and Now was the zine found by Houston-Jones created for the 10th anniversary of John Bernd’s passing from AIDS in 1988. The catalog and platform was curated by Ishmael Houston-Jones and Will Rawls. Houston-Jones, who had danced for John Bernd, writes , “we look back at the plague years of mass AIDS hysteria, specifically the 15-year span of 1981-1996, to try and recover some of what was vanished by the loss of a generation of role models, mentors, and muses.” (10) Will Rawls, a “very late GenXer or a very early Millennial,” (18) sheds light in how the platform was curated. “And so we take the time and take on the trouble of bringing the letters and numbers together indexing what must be said and what is left out. We don’t expect a comprehensive result, as this would, in some ways defeat the very potential of filling in the gaps with other kinds of narrative.”(22)  The pain inflicted by AIDS continues to be expressed revealing not only the artifacts of pain, but rematerializes those who have vanished. Lost and Found is one way that dance artists keep renewing the pain and loss of AIDS. Another, is the revival of Them,  “it bring[s] a whole younger generation inside.[…] A lot of the rehearsal time was spent talking… about the time, about what those sections meant… There is no set movement, there is no set choreography to learn, but there is a lot of information.” (Ishmael) 

Pert’s research teaches us that there a ”numerous alternatives to the synaptic nerve hookups that once seemed indispensable for mind-body communication.”(pert 140)  She ends her lectures reminding us that “informational molecules that code for communication, for the information exchange that runs all systems and all living things, whether the communication is inter–or intra-cellular, organ to organ, brain to body, or individual to individual… are found in the earliest and simplest forms of life as well as in the most complex ones.” (Pert 193) Returning to Ishmael’s interview: 

For me, my personal take, my struggle and pushing limits is always part of my work…Its part of both the agony and the joy of the work. Not to the point of physically hurting my self, but viscerally feeling that I am pushing against something. Something that I am pushing against, or pushing through, or trying to get around, or dig into or dig out of… its all that…And I can’t speak for all people… but there is some kind of catharsis communicated between what I am going through and what they are witnessing.  

Dance vibrates pain settled in the bodymind. As it vibrates it is rattled from its resting place and finds intersections with different time lines and people. Dance demonstrates the resilient. Rizvana Bradly, makes a distinction between gesture, and choreography that does not activate other modes of being, in Black Cinematic Gesture and the Aesthetics of Contagion.

“I want to propose that we think of gesture as fundamentally anti-choreographic. Where the choreographic often insists upon regimes of movement that establish the dancing body’s autonomy and self-possessive mastery, gesture—or the expression of the gestural—concerns the body’s capacity to establish itself relationally through the heterogeneity and variation of its postures and habits. Furthermore, gestures resonate and migrate. Gestures explore a terrain of repetition and difference, intersection and resonance, that enables them to be repeated but also radically transformed. Gestures also generate and circulate affect (Stern 2002).” (Bradly 190)

Can the gestural be produced by pain? Can gesture extending beyond the self, as another “transitional object” enter into the “in-between?” Gesture’s transformation seem paramount to the disturbance that Croft advocates is “dance’s broadest avenue for affecting publics: it’s disorientation of reorientation of audiences.” ( 13) Maybe it is the distinction between gesture and choreography that can open these avenues and increase the amount of communication passed beyond the “limits of perception that can be easily mapped, such as the direct communication through language.” (Manning 150)  Clair Croft writes, “Too often we talk of the body as an instrument or machine, disregarding the myriad ways bodies produce and respond to pleasure, desire, and normalizing forces. Treating bodies like instruments rather than social forces forecloses queer possibility, which is often intertwined with the unspoken and unfelt.” (Croft 15) Dance can not only become “a kind of pedagogy, teaching someone what it might look like or feel like to refuse norms.”(Croft 17) This pedagogy asks witnesses to come closer to pain, and form “new modes of attention.” (Manning 220) 

Pain, language-less and forceful, gives way to a different form of communication. One that asks us to move beyond ourselves, extending into objects and into spaces that untether us from linear time. Through dance, pain moves through artifacts and into spaces in which others can see and feel. Creating closer proximity than language alone can ever bring us, dance brings us closer. However, witnesses to dance must learn to recognize what is newly perceivable. It is the complexity of the process of perception that limits us to our individuality, keeping us from feeling connected to others. But the phenomenologies of pain: Leah’s intersection of pain and fear, Jaamil’s tactics for empathy, Jumatatu’s ability to see pain's matrix, Annie’s uterus becoming a home, Jennifer’s deep desire to experience beyond herself, Paul’s giving expression to pain, and Ishmael’s catharsis, extend their individual experience into the external world. Dance disrupts what hegemonies demand we ignore, by re-materializing the past and brining into focus the people who’s pain have been untold.


    1. Pert distinguishes the use of the term “bodymind”in the following quotation from her text: “Bodymind is a term first proposed by Dianne Connelly, reflects the understanding derived from Chinese Medicine, that the body is inseparable from the mind.(187) Dianne Connelly Ph.D,M.Ac.,L.Ac. is the author of Traditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements among other books. 

    2. Leah Stein, (pronouns, she/her)  For more information please see her website,

     3. Jaamil Kosoko, (pronouns he/him or they/them)  For more information please visit 

    4. To hear more about post-traumatic enlightenment I recommend that you listen to:

    5. Erin Manning writes: I want to propose that autistic perception, in its divergent, complex, and continually evolving forms may open the way for an ethic of the more than human urgently needed today, focusing as it does not on the microlevel of reimposed moral systems such as human-centered empathy, but on an ecology of practices, a focus that emphasizes hypperrelationality and dynamic expression in a wording that is co-constitutive. (153) 

    6.  Jumatatu Poe, prounouns they/them, and he/him. For more information please visit

    7.  Annie Wilson, pronouns she/her For more information please visit

    8. Jennifer Nugent, pronouns she/her Biography: Jennifer Nugent danced with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company from 2009-2014 and David Dorfman Dance from 1999-2007, receiving a New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) for her work in the company.  She has also performed with Martha Clarke, Lisa Race, Doug Elkins, Bill Young, Colleen Thomas, Kate Weare, Barbara Sloan and Dale Andre. Jennifer's teaching and dancing is inspired by all her teachers and mentors, most profoundly by Daniel Lepkoff, Wendall Beavers, Gerri Houlihan, David Dorfman, Bill T. Jones, Janet Wong, Wendy Woodson, and Patty Townsend.  Her duet collaborations with Paul Matteson have been presented in New York City and throughout the U.S. Jennifer is currently guest faculty at Sarah Lawrence College, teaches regularly at Gibney Dance and Movement Research NYC, and has been a guest artist at numerous universities and dance festivals.

    9. Paul Matteson pronouns he/him Biography: Paul Matteson is a Bessie Award receiving performer whose research explores methods for generating inventive personal movement within collaborative choreography. His evening length duet, another piece apart, co-created with Jennifer Nugent, premiered in October at New York Live Arts.  Matteson was a member of the internationally touring Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company from 2008-2012.  He also danced with David Dorfman Dance, Lisa Race, Terry Creach, Peter Schmitz, Neta Pulvermacher, Karinne Keithley Syers, and others.  Matteson regularly teaches at summer festivals including The American Dance festival, The Bates Dance Festival, SALT Dance, and Provincial Dance Theater’s Summer School in Yekaterinburg, Russia.  Matteson was on faculty at Amherst College and Mount Holyoke College from 2012-2017 and during that time was a Massachusetts Cultural Council Award recipient in Choreography. He is currently in his second year as an Assistant Professor at The University of the Arts.

    10.  Ishmael Houston-Jones pronouns he/him, for more information please visit,

    11.  “I’d like to conclude my lecture for today with my final slide, that of a single -celled animal, the tetrahymena. This is a critter so widely studied in basic science laboratories that it has earned the title of the workhorse of biology. What is truly amazing is that this primitive unicellular animal makes many of the same peptides, including insulin and the endorphins, that we humans do. On its single– cell surface, Blanche O'Neil found opiate receptors just like the ones in our brains. The same basic building blocks, then, are found in the earliest and simplest forms of life as well as in the most complex ones. And just as there are four basic molecules that code for all DNA in living organisms, there is some given number, not yet finally determined, informational molecules that code for communication, for the information exchange that runs all systems and all living things, whether the communication is inter–or intra-cellular, organ to organ, brain to body, or individual to individual.” (Pert 193)


Works Cited

Berlant, Lauren. “Citizenship.” Keywords for American Cultural Studies, New York University Press, 2007, pp. 37–42.

Bradley, Rizvana. “Black Cinematic Gesture and the Aesthetics of Contagion.” TDR:The Drama Review, vol. 62, no. 1, 2018.

Chopra, Deepak, and Candace Pert. Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel the Way You Feel. New York, 2003.

Croft, Clare. “Queer Dance: Meanings and Makings.” Queer Dance: Meanings and Makings, Oxford University Press, 2017.

“Expressing Life Through Loss.” Queer Dance: Meanings and Makings, by Anna Martine Whitehead, Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 282–289.

Houston-Jones, Ishmael, and Will Rawls. “Curator Essays.” LOST AND FOUND: Dance, New York, Hiv/Aids, Then and Now, DANSPACE, 2017.

Houston-Jones, Ishmael. Personal Interview. 3 December 2018.

Kosoko, Jaamil Personal Interview. 29 October 2018.

Manning, Erin. Always More than One: Individuation's Dance. Duke University Press, 2013.

Matteson, Paul. Personal Interview. 25 October 2018

Muñoz José Esteban. Cruising Utopia: the Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York University Press, 2019.

Nugent, Jennifer. Personal Interview. 8 November 2018.

Poe, Jumatatu. Personal Interview. 26 November 2018.

Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain The Making and Unmaking of the World. Oxf. U.P.(N.Y, 1988.

Schneider. Performing Remains. Routledge 270 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, 2011.

Stein, Leah. Personal Interview. 1 November 201.8

Wilson, Annie. Personal Interview.12 November 2018.

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