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Alexandra Beller

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I am committed to revealing myself, as a woman, an artist, an American, and a member of a dangerous and confusing race and culture. I make art because I want to find out where I mesh with and where I challenge my community. I want to connect to people at a cellular level. I want to understand and be understood. I want to develop compassion for that which is foreign to me. The most immediate pathway is through language, both physical and verbal. The weaving of movement and words is the guiding aesthetic of my dance-theater work. I make pieces that are understood through the nervous system before the cerebellum. I trigger memory, emotion and heightened awareness through movements that are deeply personal and, at the same time, familiar. Gesture and abstracted narrative text create scenes that are gripping, electric, specific and timeless.

As a member of a sometimes-oppressed gender, a destructive race, and a country that has exhibited questionable human values, I am fascinated by issues of morality, compassion, greed, manipulation, victim-hood, power, and absolution. This often leads the work towards the political and social issues of our time. More than the logistics of legislations, though, I am engaged in trying to understand other people through the act of making dances. I want to know myself, my dancers, my neighbors, both near and far. I also love to look at the psychology of relationship and how different people attempt to negotiate for what they need. I am interested in how people find and keep and give love.

The art takes various mediums. Often for younger dancers and students, I will narrow the field to use only movement and relationships between bodies to investigate these issues. With my own company, text almost always comes into play and I draw inspiration from literature, especially Chekhov, Sartre, Shakespeare, and contemporary poets like Mark Strand and Margaret Atwood. I often extract characters from a play and use their text as a springboard for a scene or a relationship. I find that the specificity of written characters can lend the work a history and diversity of experience that the dancers in the company don?t necessarily have. In my solo work, I create from a less formal, more intuitive place. My experiences inside my own body, and inside a body that has been the target of predjudice and size discrimination, fold themselves into the act of dancing. The words are more likely to be my own than drawn from published text, and the audience is almost always intimately aware of their part in a conversation. I ask a great deal of the audience in solo performances, both in their level of attention and in their willingness to relate to me as a human being, rather than a disembodied piece of art.

These guiding forces have led me to create a hybrid form of dance-theater that is truly a democratic use of words and movement, as well as often collaborating heavily with sound, objects, and design elements. Speaking and moving are both pedestrian acts. To put them on a stage, they need to be condensed to an intensity that becomes art. I believe that they should both function as acts of survival. You speak because you can no longer hold inside what is essential to you. You move because words cannot function to express your story. Sound appears, larger than characters, to illuminate the space and the sense of the world. Light becomes the presence of the divine in our everyday world. Together, these elements of the theater form a story. Is it your story or mine? My goal is that it dances on the fine line between us and speaks to us both.

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