Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith

Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith

Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith
 

Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith have been making experimental dances in New York since 2006. Their work is unique in that it is an equal collaboration between the two choreographers, always performed by Molly and Eleanor. Body Comes Apart, their latest work, premiered March 6-9th at New York Live Arts and was documented by the New York Public Library, Jerome Robbins Dance Division. It will be remounted at New York Live Arts in January 2020 through Live Artery. Recent works include: Basketball (PS122 and Baryshnikov Arts Center for COIL 2017), Rude World (PS122 and The Chocolate Factory Theater for COIL 2015), Tulip (Roulette, 2013; Judson Now at Danspace Project, 2012), and Beautiful Bone (The Chocolate Factory Theater, 2012). Residencies and awards: 2018 Family Residency at Mt. Tremper Arts, 2018 Bessie Schonberg Fellows at The Yard, 2018 DiP Residency Artists at Gibney Dance, Featured as one of Alastair Macaulay's "Best Dance of 2017" in The New York Times for Basketball, 2016 LMCC Process Space Residency, 2015 Rosas Summer Studios Recipient, PS122’s 2014/2015 RAMP Artist, 2014 Baryshnikov Arts Center Artist Residency Program, 2013 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award Nomination for Emerging Choreographer, and the 2013 NYFA Fellow Finalist Award. Molly and Eleanor were Guest Artists at Connecticut College in 2015 and taught workshops together in New York through Movement Research and CLASSCLASSCLASS. They were guest artists and co-taught at Sarah Lawrence in the Spring of 2018. They are also curating a series of shared work in May at Roulette Intermedium.

Molly Lieber recently performed in works by luciana achugar, Oren Barnoy, Wally Cardona, Brian Rogers, and Donna Uchizono. She has been dancing in luciana achugar’s work since 2012. She received a 2016 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for performance and was on the cover of Dance Magazine’s March 2016 issue. She teaches at Movement Research and Gibney Dance Center.

Eleanor Smith is a choreographer and freelance dancer living in Brooklyn. She currently dances for Ivy Baldwin Dance (since 2009), Molly Poerstel (since 2013), and Katie Workum (since 2013). Eleanor has performed in works by Anna Azrieli, Vanessa Anspaugh, Kim Brandt, Keely Garfield, Levi Gonzalez, Juliana F. May, and robbinschilds. She was a 2010 Fresh Tracks artist at Dance Theater Workshop and a 2012 Studio Series artist at New York Live Arts. Eleanor has enjoyed curatorial experience by serving on the 2011 Fresh Tracks Selection Committee, as a member of the team for the Movement Research Festival Spring 2016 “Hand Written Notes”, and for an upcoming series at Roulette Intermedium in May.



 
 

Artist Statement

Our working model is non-hierarchical and defies traditional ways of making dances. Each piece is created by a thorough consensus style model that is foundationally equal between the two of us. We share in duties of making, performing, teaching, and administration. This type of female collaboration is wholly feminist in its direction, execution, and ethos.

 
 
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An originating principle of our work is the duet form. Intimacy is a complex challenge for each of us in different ways--we share backgrounds of sexual trauma--and our work dives into this challenge through movement, dialogue, and structural analysis. We support each other physically in our dances and also by making all choreographic choices together. The material of the work also asks us to be intimate with each other: we carry each other, hold each other naked, and mesh our backgrounds and dreams into the pieces.

Akin to intimacy, the fully-realized naked body is another aim of our works. This value also stems from our histories of shame, rape, and physical misrepresentation. We honor bodily perception and awareness and have worked specifically to hone these skills that could have otherwise been lost due to trauma. Dance is our chosen format because of how we value the sensing body. Furthermore we believe in reclaiming our own feminine selves from the male gaze and into our own artistic realm.

Value placed on rigorous interaction shapes our works as well, particular to the fact that we share a choreographic voice in this work. Ours is not a rigor of set lines or of becoming the image of an outside eye. It comes from working together to make each piece from the inside. This creates a rigor of messiness, coming from trying the same difficult practices again and again, trusting in potential. We practice continuing to show up for the unknown because predetermining all details cancels out a certain openness and freedom that we believe in, and constantly study. We have to make the material happen together in the moment for it to be itself. This non-hierarchical approach to performance requires trust in each other, a steadfast practice of improvisation in rehearsals, and a constant dialogue of structuring the materials and matter of the performance. Each work has the potential to be exactly what it is in rehearsal and at the same time something greater, because it is open enough to be in communication with those experiencing it.

The works we make are abstract experimental dance performances. We believe in abstraction similarly to believing in collaboration, and similarly to trusting feeling. This commitment to abstraction allows us to utilize our figures as vehicles for comprehending fears, desires, and vulnerabilities. Much of our material has been uncovered without knowing ahead of time what we are looking for. Once we find it, we continue embodying it until we feel it stronger than the original expression itself. This practice of embodiment has become our unique form of virtuosity.



 

Collaborators

 

James Lo (Sound Design) has created sound scores for choreographers Katie Workum, Ani Javian, Heather Olson, Mei-Yin Ng, Sarah Michelson, Maria Hassabi, Jennifer Monson, Levi Gonzalez, Ralph Lemon, RoseAnne Spradlin, and Lucy Guerin. He received New York Dance and Performance (BESSIE) Awards for John Jasperse's furnished/unfurnished and for Donna Uchizono's State of Heads, and was named one of Treblezine.com’s 50 favorite drummers for his work with the bands Chavez and Live Skull.    

Thomas Dunn (Lighting Design), based in NYC, designs lighting throughout US and abroad. Selected design credits includes works with; Wally Cardona, Steve Cosson/The Civilians, Annie Dorsen, DD Dorvillier/human future dance corp, Daniel Fish, Beth Gill, Trajal Harrell, Jennifer Lacey, Noémie Lafrance/Sens Production, David Levine, Ong Keng Sen/TheatreWorks Singapore and Jay Scheib/NYCO. Thomas is the recipient of a 2009 Kevin Kline Award for Outstanding Lighting Design, The Little Dog Laughed, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis as well as a 2007 Bessie Design Award, Nottthing Is Importanttt, DD Dorvillier/human future dance corps.

Lilana Dirks-Goodman (Set Design) is a New York based artist. She has a Bachelors and Masters degree in Architecture. She co-organizes AUNTS and makes installations and objects. These things have been seen and happened at the New Museum, chashama, Danspace Project, Movement Research at the Judson Church and most recently in the Union Square Sweetgreen, among others. She is a current SHIFT resident at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts.

Claire Fleury (Costume Design) Originally from Amsterdam, Claire Fleury has been a dancer, actress, director and playwright for over two decades. Self taught when it comes to costume making, she draws from her background in theatre and performance when conceptualizing her work. She has made dance costumes for Larissa Velez-Jackson's group Yackez!, Antonio Ramos, Sarah White-Ayon and Coco Karol. She also has dressed performers like Laurie Anderson, The John Spencer Blues Explosion, Bridget Barkan, Effie Liu, BETTY and many members of the NYC nightlife, for instance Susanne Bartsch.