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Gillian Vinton

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Umwelt (from German, meaning ?environment?) is the basis for an organism?s unique perception of the world. This can include biological functions (a dog?s keen sense of smell), cognitive abilities (in humans the ability to create patterns), physical characteristics (an ant?s size compared to an elephant?s), or anything else that makes up a specific environment. Umwelt theory is usually used by ethnologists to discuss a human being?s inability to truly understand the world of another organism, but it can also be used to discuss perceptual differences between individuals, even those sharing the same environment.

I have chosen the name Umwelt Dance Theater for my company because I want to draw attention to the subjectivity of our perceptions, specifically when it comes to viewing and interpreting dance. The question of an audience?s reaction to a given performance has been much discussed, but the fact that every individual person will interpret a performance differently based on their past experiences is endlessly fascinating ?and challenging- for a choreographer or any post-modern artist. We must ask ourselves: without becoming too literal, how do you make something that represents what you want it to?

? which brings us to my Artist Statement:

My goal in making dance is to abstractly explore concrete concepts. By taking subject matter from performance theory, history, science, nature, and current events I want to create dances that are educational for the audience and expose not only the results of my research, but the process as well.

My particular interest lies in exploring the roots and stimuli of social interactions and exposing why we behave differently towards one another when communicating through different media. I have investigated the rhythms of friendly conversation, the effect of digital communication on relationships, the interaction between the audience and a performer suffering stage fright, and the ?mating rituals? unique to humankind.

I celebrate the challenge of the dancing body?s dual nature, that of both artistic medium and expressive character. To me, investigating the intersection of both ?pure movement? (dance) and narrative gesture (theater) creates a stimulating performance experience and is one the most philosophically engaging areas of post-modern dance. As a result, my favorite dances to watch not only give you a subject to think about but also use innovative performance techniques, and my aim as a choreographer is to create dances that can be described as such.