30 September 2023

Autumn ‘23 News

Peter Sparling - Autumn ‘23 News image

I created and directed Dance the Rainbow… Or Dismantling the Patriarchy to Make Way for Free Expression in September at a new live-work & performance  space, Commongrounds/The Alluvion, in Traverse City, MI. Joining me were dancers Ben Cheney, Katie Dorn, Yali Rivlin, Finley Van Patten and Leslie Williams,  with double bass player Paul Erhard…

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26 April 2023

New Screendances and Paintings 2023

Screendances 22-23

Created for the Martha Graham Dance Company’s April 2023 season at the Joyce Theater in NYC, this video tribute honors distinguished company alumni over 80: https://vimeo.com/807937854 
The Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival presented my screendance, “Winterreise”, with live performance of the Schubert score at Detroit…

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13 January 2023

2022 Wrap-Up/2023 Prospects

2022 Wrap-Up/2023 Prospects

2022 came with its delights and daily wonders despite it being a war zone. After much gnashing of teeth, our fair state of Michigan went BLUE in the mid-terms.  My husband John & I fitfully ventured out of the nest to encounter a supposedly post-COVID world. We’ve been lucky to have evaded the plague so far, and…

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23 July 2022

Summer 22 Update

July 23, 2022 Update:

5/16-29: Miami City Ballet  As co-regisseur with beloved dance pal Peggy Lyman Hayes of Martha Graham Resources, I had the pleasure of teaching Graham’s 1948 buoyant and love-filled work, “Diversion of Angels” to two casts of terrific dancers. Miami Beach is a trip…another world compared to my last visit there in 1978. The…

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24 February 2022

February 22 update

Work continues on all fronts, despite the pandemic! I have recently restaged my choreography on the Crooked Tree School of Ballet (The Goldberg Suite) and Ballet Chelsea ("Spring" from The Four Seasons). My film, "The Man I Want to Be', will be screened on opening night (March 22, 2022) of the Ann Arbor Film Festival. I will join my dear friend…

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05 October 2021

Fall 21 News: Paintings, Videos, Dance!

Motion Pictures: New Paintings by Peter Sparling at 22 North Gallery, Ypsilanti, MI Oct. 1- Nov. 7 
Link to video tour of exhibit: https://vimeo.com/622716319

The Motion Pictures Project: A residency at Riverside Arts Center in nearby Ypsilanti, MI during August provided me the space to videotape eight terrific dancers improvising to the sme…

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22 July 2021

Update Summer 21: Celebrating Age vs. Ageism

July 22, 2021:
An article posted on Facebook that originally appreared in The Observer (https://observer.com/2021/07/ageism-dance-older-dancers/) writes about ageism and dance. My comment to that post, followed by a selection of links to recent videos:

These articles drive me nuts. At 70 and still an active mover for the camera and maker of…

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14 May 2021

Last Dance                   by Peter Sparling (from Confessions of a Dancing Man)

I danced with Martha Graham for 15 years. I danced with Bianca Jagger for 40 nights. 

New Year’s Eve, 1978. Studio 54.
The cranked-up crowd momentarily pauses in its disco finery as Donna Summer croons her sultry, swooning recitative.  Tulle, Spandex and oversized baubles mingle with the celebrity couture. I stand bathed in a swirl of…

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23 October 2020

October 2020 Update

These are rough times to feel justified in making anything other than protest art or rallying against racism, fascism and Trump's dismantling of democracy. I've continued to address these and pandemic issues in recent work:

Weather Man 2020 was built upon Aaron Copland's angular, forceful "Piano Variations" and became a rant against climate…

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13 September 2020

September 2020 Update

Peter Sparling - September 2020 Update image

Are simplicity, concentration and focus luxuries we cannot afford in these complex, fucked up times? Must my continued and vigilant awareness of and engagement with the pandemic, government corruption and blatant racism override or make irrelevant my need to make art? Or am I compelled to make art that addresses these overriding issues, and…

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07 July 2020

July 2020 Update

Thoughts for the Day: Repetition as an act of recognition and agency, and as a call to resistance and creative action in everyday existence and the creative process. 

Four months into quarantine, I am noticing the moments of my day that repeat themselves and how I register or identify the image I recognize as being in and of that moment…. as…

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17 April 2020

Report in Times of the Pandemic

I am grateful that John & I are relatively secure in our "art compound", with our home studios, my pension, John's abilities to cook, fix anything, and keep me on my toes. He has been so vigilant, sewing face masks for hospitals and friends, cooking up foods to freeze, and yes, awaiting the garden and spring plantings. I'm grateful I am retired…

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07 December 2019

Update December 2019

2019 year-end review:
Solo Exhibits at OutCenter of Southwest Michigan/Benton Harbor and Gallery 22 North, Ypsilanti as fund-raisers fo OutCenter and Equality Michigan. See entire selection of paintings and price list here. "Blue Chair Triptych" chosen for annual show of paintings at Ann Arbor Art Center's "ArtNow 2019. A slide show of…

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29 October 2018

New home studio!

Peter Sparling - New home studio! image

As of mid-summer 2018, I have a new home studio in our back yard. 

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17 August 2018

Solo Show of Paintings at 22 North Gallery, October, 2018

Peter Sparling - Solo Show of Paintings at 22 North Gallery, October, 2018 image

The Post-Photographic Body: See Me as I Feel    

Acrylic Paintings by Peter Sparling
(see more images on homepage image sequence) 

22 North Gallery (www.22north.org)

22 N. Huron St., Ypsilanti, MI

Opening Night Reception on Ypsilanti’s First Friday, October 5, 7-9 PM 

Open Weekends: October 5-7, 19-21, 26-27, & Nov. 2, 2018

Hours: Fridays, 6-9…

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05 April 2018

Spring 2018 Update

With my retirement from University of Michigan looming, (May, 2018) I am looking forward to more time to paint, make videos and write. My first one-man show will be in Ocrtober, 2018 at 22 North Gallery in neighboring Ypsilanti, MI. Here are updates on screenings of my videos: 

Cutting Edge Film Festival 2017:
   Late Bloom…

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27 January 2018

Paintings Update 1-27-18

As my retirement approaches, I am planning on building a painting studio in our back yard to house the work I presently manage at my office in U-M’s Life Sciences Institute. From the accumulation of canvases that has overwhelmed the space, I’ll curate a selection to show for my first solo show at Ypsilanti’s 22 North Gallery in October, 2018.…

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27 January 2018

Third Century Screens for U-M Bicentennial 2017

I’m pleased to report that our Third Century Screens (3CS) Project succeeded in attaining its goals! The 3CS project was plotted in four phases; the first phase allowed our team to complete implementation of the Pop-Up Projection Pavilion (PUPP), a multi-screen installation to be featured in our 3CS Competition. Both the 3CS Colloquium and 3CS…

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21 August 2016

3C-Screens Launch!  (Third Century Screens Project)

PRESS RELEASE                                                                              August 15, 2016

 For Immediate Release:

Contact: Peter Sparing petespar@umich.edu; 734-647-2288

Website: 3c-screens.com

Third Century Screens (3C-S) launches a dynamic interdisciplinary project that celebrates on multiple screens of every shape and size…

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25 April 2016

Winter-Spring 2016 Update

Peter Sparling - Winter-Spring 2016 Update image

Distinguished University Professorship Lecture and installation
In fulfillment of the Rudolf Arnheim Distinguished University Professorship in Dance awarded to me in 2015, I presented a lecture-demonstration, To See is to Believe: The Body Made Visible at University of Michigan on February 23, 2016. See video documentation in two parts: DUP Part…

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21 April 2015

Pop-Up Projection Pavilion Makes News

This article in UM Bentley Historical Library's Collections Magazine marks the first anniversary of Studio 520, the black-box video studio at UM's North Campus Research Complex and home of the Pop-Up Projection Pavilion.  The system provides for three transparencies of video to be seen at once via synchronization of three short-throw…

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15 April 2015

Man in Motion: The Snowy Owl at Cannes Short Film Corner

Peter Sparling - Man in Motion: The Snowy Owl at Cannes Short Film Corner image

I am thrilled to report that I'll be flying to Cannes, France on May 15 to attend the Cannes Film Festival! There, I'll mingle and market my screendance, The Snowy Owl, which was accepted into the Festival's Short Film Corner. 

The Snowy Owl (2012) 

Dance/Video: Peter Sparling
Text: Benjamin Landry: "The Snowy Owl" from Suite of Movements 

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11 August 2014

Summer 14 Update

Summer 14 UPDATE

Since the end of the school year, I have been immersed in projects that will be realized during my sabbatical this fall. I am spending much of that time in a black-box space in the lower level of UM’s sprawling North Campus Research Complex (formerly Pfizer Drug research facility). I have set up my 3-scrim projection…

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22 December 2013


Peter Sparling - Sarcophagi image

December 22, 2013:


A paintbrush, my new obsession:

acrylic bodies recline on the oblong flanks

of old wooden violin cases –

caskets of aging warriors floated out onto dark seas.

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22 December 2013

Seasonal Update!

Peter Sparling - Seasonal Update! image


I am at the end of another year--and midway through my 29th at University of Michigan--imagining retirement in another 4 years or so and unlimited time to paint, make videos and write while at my fantasy cabin in the north woods. (I’ll do a test-run during my sabbatical next fall, while also making 3-part inventions for a 3-scrim…

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15 August 2013

Patient Spider at Chicago’s Ruth Page Theater

Peter Sparling - Patient Spider at Chicago’s Ruth Page Theater image

Patient Spider screening in Chicago September 27-28!

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07 July 2013

Summer 2013 update

UPDATE/July 3, 2013

Autophagy Suite: A Moving Diorama in Five Parts  

Performances with Ann Arbor Dance Works, June 8-9, 2013
UM Museum of Natural History
Choreography, Text, Sound, Props, Costumes and Video: Peter Sparling
Music: Wendy Lee; Frank Pahl 
Cellular Illustrations by Dave Goodsell
Duderstadt Video Studio staff: Jacques Mersereau and Jeff…

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05 January 2013

Old Man Dances

Modified from a message to a photographer friend:

I was thinking of you today while doing my warm-up and shooting a video study... I'd very much like to meet with you to discuss some ideas for a collaboration.  
As I age into my 61-year-old body and come to terms with ever-changing modes of moving and capturing that movement on camera, I form…

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28 November 2012

The End of Shame and Witness

Today's New York Times (page A16) has an article "Gay 'Conversion Therapy' Faces Test in Courts". Well, it's about time. I'm putting my 2005 work, The End of Shame, onto YouTube for the world to see. 

Also, in honor of AIDS Day 2012,  I was asked to submit my 1990 work, Witness, to Portraits of Hope, a multimedia exhibit from EDGE Media Network…

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13 November 2012

Paris Reentry

Back from Paris, where the stony city air made my temples throb and the streets had a much-too-lived-in gravity, so unlike the fantasy of two years ago. I was afforded the mid-semester break with funds to attend the 2012 conference of European Association of Dance Historians. My presentation, entitled Dancing Graham's Music: Sounds from an…

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02 November 2012

Clonal Renderings at Work: Ann Arbor

Clonal Renderings tour
A Screendance Installation at Work: Ann Arbor, September 21-October 19, 2012: I know you're there, but who am I?: Explorations in Identity and Place

Clonal Renderings attempts to map the disorientation of a body floating in a void of its own making.  How does the moving body inscribe or describe itself to itself? To…

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31 October 2012

UNTRANSLATABLE! at the Gallery in the Duderstadt

UNTRANSLATABLE!: A Series of Dance Improvisations for the Camera by Peter Sparling
The Gallery in the Duderstadt Center, U-M North Campus, October 9-19, 2012

In response to UM LSA fall semester’s theme of translation, UNTRANSLATABLE! confronts the theme head-on, or body-on. The seven-screen installation consists of videos of myself performing…

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12 July 2012

Summer Update: New Videos, Performance Work, and Memoir

New Video/Performance Works:

The Snowy Owl was inspired by a poem from Benjamin Landry's new Suite of Movements. Ben is presently a student in the MFA Creative Writing program at UM. He asked me to advise him on a writing project involving his fascination with films of dance. Referencing a century of footage, including clips of Anna Pavlova,…

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28 March 2012

Patient Spider at Leicester International Dance Festival May 25

Patient Spider at Leicester International Dance Festival   Friday, 25 May!
Category: Is It Dance: Films of a more experimental edge involving movement and dance that challenge the notions of dance and choreography.

Update: Patient Spider was awarded BEST MICHIGAN EXPERIMENTAL at the Uptown Film Festival, Birmingham, MI, on March 10, 2012.

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10 February 2012

Uptown/Detroit Independent Film Festival

Just released!  “Patient Spider", has been selected for screening at the 2012 Uptown / Detroit Independent Film Festival and is in Award consideration for this year's Michigan Film Award Competition. This year our festival received a record number of submissions from all over the world, so competition was especially tough.  The festival will…

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10 February 2012

2012 Update: Man in the Moon

This little video was made in the U-M Duderstadt Video Studio by stretching our greenscreen fabric across the floor, training a special (pool of circular light) on it and shooting it from a high angle. I stepped into the light and the rest was improvisation on a theme of isolation? Exile? One last moment in the spotlight? When I discovered a…

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10 February 2012

2012 Update: Forest Through the Trees

Forest Through the Trees (World Premiere-Power Center, Ann Arbor, MI Feb. 2-5, 2012)

Choreography by Peter Sparling (with the assistance of the cast in entrance to “Climate Change”)

Music by Frank Pahl: from Music for Architecture; Thollem McDonas: from I’ll Meet You Halfway Out In The Middle Of It All

Video by Peter Sparling; “Climate Change”…

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27 October 2011

Fall 2011 Update

CODA Oslo International Dance Festival: Guest teacher of Graham Technique, Nov. 17-22
Peter Sparling/Screendance: New & Recent Works, Nov. 3
UM Art & Design Works:Detroit Dec. 3-30: Perspectives of Pain: black body & In Memorium: Shirley Verrett
DANCE:FILMS in Edinburgh: Babel & Patient Spider
Ballet Review: Dance reviews in last 5 issues (no…

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07 September 2011

Aquaman 1/Photo & Acrylics, August, 2011

Peter Sparling - Aquaman 1/Photo & Acrylics, August, 2011 image

I'm thrilled to share a brief report on a recent "total immersion" in photography of figures submerged under water. This rough draft of a possible preface to a book will suffice. 
I'm including five of the photos (of a total of 2,000!) by Ernestine Ruben... and five recent paintings I did in acrylic paint. These are my maiden voyage into the…

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07 September 2011

Aquaman/Acrylic 1

Peter Sparling - Aquaman/Acrylic 1 image

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07 September 2011

Aquaman 2

Peter Sparling - Aquaman 2 image

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06 September 2011

Aquaman/Acrylic 2

Peter Sparling - Aquaman/Acrylic 2 image

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05 September 2011

Aquaman 3

Peter Sparling - Aquaman 3 image

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05 September 2011

Aquaman/Acrylic 3

Peter Sparling - Aquaman/Acrylic 3 image

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04 September 2011

Aquaman 4

Peter Sparling - Aquaman 4 image

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04 September 2011

Aquaman/Acrylic 4

Peter Sparling - Aquaman/Acrylic 4 image

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03 September 2011

Aquaman 5

Peter Sparling - Aquaman 5 image

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02 September 2011

Aquaman/Acrylic 5

Peter Sparling - Aquaman/Acrylic 5 image

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28 May 2011

A Free Man in Paris/Michigan Muse

For easy access to readers of the Spring 2011 Issue of Michigan Muse, I offer this repeat of my January 8 entry, with listing of all videos made while in Paris. 

As the final entry to the Videojournal de Paris, I offer a listing with links to the newly revised selection of screendances made while in Paris between 3 septembre and 26 decembre,…

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12 March 2011

March-June, 2011 Calendar

March 12, 2011

Now that I’ve been thoroughly reabsorbed into life stateside, it is time to update this site with a report on current work.


Devant, my screendance, selected for inclusion in special screening at The Flea Theater in NYC. Click on link.

Photoformance: An Empathic Environment opens March 19 and runs until May 15 at U-M Museum of…

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08 January 2011

Last Look: ALL Screendances

8 janvier, 2011

As the final entry to the Videojournal de Paris, I offer a listing with links to the newly revised selection of screendances made while in Paris between 3 septembre and 26 decembre, 2010. Some works (Group A) I feel are ready to send out into the world. They have been worked sufficiently and have musical scores that I have been…

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08 January 2011

Paris Wrap-up: Writings on Dance

The Emperor’s Old Clothes: An Autumn of Dance in Paris, 2010

                                                                                            Peter Sparling


Hovering above Newfoundland en route from Paris to the USA, I find a safe distance from which to survey the dance diary I kept during my 4-month stay in the City of Light.  As…

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25 December 2010

Pina Bausch at l’Opéra de Paris

24 decembre, 2010  Paris

December 24, 2010

It is Christmas Eve, Paris, and the cathedral bells chime, seemingly oblivious of the digitally synchronized clocks of 21st century cell phones and laptops. Their inundating sound arises first from a lone bell, then is joined, mirrored and echoed by others across the arrondissement and beyond. This…

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20 December 2010

What’s a Nudie Strip?

20 decembre

So what is a Nudie Strip?? Taking one’s clothes off for the artist or the camera has a long history—sometimes nasty and sordid, whether soft or hard core, and other times sublime, whether sacred or profane, i.e. the essence of Greek/Roman statuary, Gothic Christ figures, Renaissance murals and Michelangelo Bound Slaves, continuing…

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15 December 2010

Home Again/Paris

14 decembre

I’m determined to recapture the “high” of the rhythm of my first two months here: up early, down the studio with camera before anyone at Cité is awake, back up four flights to download, edit and upload to YouTube, (write journal entry, enter onto website, take a long walk, buy lunch to bring home and take a nap, all while waiting…)…

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13 December 2010

Week in Lisbon

13 decembre, 2010

I’ve been back from Lisbon for a day now- time enough to gain some perspective on the past, rather unsettling week of travel, change of climate, and being “on assignment” again after three months of relative independence and free time to create. The 2nd InShadow International Festival of Video, Performance & Technologies…

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06 December 2010

Photo Gallery 8

Peter Sparling - Photo Gallery 8 image

Sunset over Notre Dame out our window. All photos by John Gutoskey. 

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06 December 2010

Photo Gallery 7

Peter Sparling - Photo Gallery 7 image

Spiral staircase at Azay-le-Rideau, another extraordinary chateau in the Loire Valley.

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06 December 2010

Photo Gallery 6

Peter Sparling - Photo Gallery 6 image

PS with Rosanna Tavarez, a U-M Dance alumna, while on her visit to Paris from LA, where she has made quite a career for herself on television while also continuing to dance and finishing her MFA. 

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06 December 2010

Photo Gallery 5

Peter Sparling - Photo Gallery 5 image

PS on a dreamy afternoon at Chenonceaux, chateau country,  the Loire Valley. This recent weekend trip was the fulfillment of my third-grade dream to visit les chateaux de la Loire.

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06 December 2010

Photo Gallery 4

Peter Sparling - Photo Gallery 4 image

PS in Berlin at the Pergamon Museum among the remains of the Roman Market Gate from Miletus (c.120 AD). 

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06 December 2010

Photo Gallery 3

Peter Sparling - Photo Gallery 3 image

PS expressing himself at Café Victor Hugo on Place de Vosges. 

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06 December 2010

Photo Gallery 2

Peter Sparling - Photo Gallery 2 image

PS at the Berlin Wall. The cement still vibrates. 

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06 December 2010

Photo Gallery 1

Peter Sparling - Photo Gallery 1 image

PS hard at work in his atelier at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris.

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05 December 2010

Gallery of Self-Portraits 5

Peter Sparling - Gallery of Self-Portraits 5 image

In no particular order, here are five self-portraits in pastel crayon I made over the past few weeks. This endeavor was prompted in part by the fact that I had no laptop for video editing. 

The last time I worked in this medium was about 33 years ago while on tour with the Martha Graham Company. It is great fun to experience the dance of line,…

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05 December 2010

Gallery of Self-Portraits 4

Peter Sparling - Gallery of Self-Portraits 4 image

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05 December 2010

Gallery of Self-Portraits 3

Peter Sparling - Gallery of Self-Portraits 3 image

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05 December 2010

Gallery of Self-Portraits 2

Peter Sparling - Gallery of Self-Portraits 2 image

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05 December 2010

Gallery of Self-Portraits 1

Peter Sparling - Gallery of Self-Portraits 1 image

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02 December 2010


2 decembre, 2010

A melancholic mood has set in. Why, when a dusting of snow frosts the sloped roofs of Notre Dame and all Paris is dressed with lights, colorful kitsch and holiday cheer, am I yearning for the solitude to work, for a burst of creative energy to sweep me up into a grand finale fitting for this four months of fantasy and…

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28 November 2010

Boris Charmatz: Levée des conflits

28 novembre, 2010


Boris Charmatz: Levée des conflits; Piece pour 24 danseurs

Theatre de la Ville, Paris

Entering the Théâtre de la Ville last night to a benign free-for-all of open seating for Boris Charmatz’s Levée ds Conflits, I felt like I was returning to a university auditorium in the late 60's-early 70's for a peace rally or…

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24 November 2010

An Injury/A Welcome Pause for Retrospection?

24 novembre, 2010

The sun shines in Paris! A slow morning walk across Pont Louis Philippe to admire the backside of Notre Dame from all angles (I find you strongly masculine, Our Lady) and tour the interior revealed the church's stained glass mandalas at their most radiant and precious. I say a slow walk because I am nursing a back spasm from…

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22 November 2010

Postcards from Paris

The University Record at University of Michigan now has a special section of their website entitiled M Arts Portal/Montage. Click here for direct link to a feature on my activities while here in Paris.

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21 November 2010


16-19 novembre, Berlin

Catching up here after a whirlwind three days to Berlin… Hosted by Jacalyn Carley, former dancer and now novelist, dance writer and creative writing instructor for Lexia, a student exchange program in Berlin, John and I dropped our bags at Jacalyn's office/apartment, bought or 48-hour train pass, and proceeded to visit…

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17 November 2010

Roaratorio/Merce Cunnigham Dance Company

November 13, 2010: Merce Cunningham Dance Company in Roaratorio

Returning home from the closing night performance of the recent re-staging of Merce Cunningham’s 1983 work, Roaratorio, performed by his company at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, I wondered if I should attempt to write a conventional review or pay tribute to the spirit of the…

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13 November 2010

12-13 novembre: new studies/Shirley Verrett Tribute

 12 novembre:

 Dare I count the days? 6 weeks, 3 days remaining here…

Invent a character and follow it day to day. Include vocal line
Hands neck back/spine, butt, thigh foot, exquisite corpse idea

 Reportage: Is the body a world to scan for stories and record, to gather headlines about, to watch like the weather, to report on daily?  And…

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10 November 2010

Michael Nyman/Cine Opera? Please.

10 novembre:

Last night, in a garage-turned-photo studio for the high fashion industry just a block from Bastille, The American University of Paris hosted Michael Nyman as part of its Arts Arena series. Nyman, known best for his lush, churning scores bordering on a sugary Minimalism (Evidently, he coined the term during his early years as a…

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07 November 2010

Merce in Paris/The Farewell Tour

Merce November 6, 2010

The two-week season of Merce Cunningham Dance Company at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris marks a fond tribute to the memory of Merce and to the splendid discipline of his dancers on the company’s last tour before disbanding. It culminates decades of the French audiences’ passionate embrace of his work. I could feel this…

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06 November 2010

6 novembre: Cut-Ups and Le Roi Vain et Stupide

6 novembre: Paris Cut-Ups and Le Roi Vain et Stupide

 I took both HD Sony and flip cameras into the studio with me early yesterday morning, along with a new pair of long underwear/tights from H & M. Using an adjustable garment rack on wheels as a frame, I improvised for both cameras within diminishing rectangles. For one set, I wore a black top…

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04 November 2010

Cité screening/Basquiat Show

2 novembre

A low-grade fear grips me today—awaiting the screening tonight of four of my older videodances at the Cité auditorium. Like the days of opening night performances, when I would stupidly rest my head within the jaws of fate, knowing it was sealed in the raising of the curtain, the duration marked by steps I would only by some miracle…

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30 October 2010

Dancer’s Primer

30 octobre, 2010

Dancer’s Primer draws from the improvisational studies inspired by my visit to the Buddhist Pantheon at the Musée Guimet. It is the third version; the first two are montages of buddhas and other ceremonial objects, shots of the water and bamboo from the outdoor Japanese Pavilion, and my improvisational dance. After playing with…

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29 October 2010

Josef Nadj

Josef Nadj, Paris, October 27, 2010                                                         --Peter Sparling

It is pre-dawn in Paris, the morning after witnessing Josef Nadj’s /Centre Chorégraphique National D’Orléans Cherry-Brandy at Theatre de la Ville. I awake to a ghastly light on the towers of Notre Dame against the pallid gloom, a…

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23 October 2010

22 octobre/I HAVE ENOUGH!

22 octobre:

Does art mirror life, or does life mirror art? (If, according to Picasso, art is a lie, and life mirrors art, then is life is a double lie?)  Sounds like a Zen koan to me: a slap in the face to wake us up to the nonsense of even asking.

I bring this up because, with this screendance entry, entitled I HAVE ENOUGH, (a rather…

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23 October 2010

21 octobre/the roar of things constantly breaking apart and falling into “the past”

 21 octobre

I’m acquiring the sense of things falling away, of the fracturing of the present as it breaks up—like a glacier sloughing its thawing flanks—and the minute fragments of this dissolution becoming particles of sound, light, the very pixels of what it is we call perception, sight or hearing. It constantly roars in my ears.  I see my…

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20 October 2010

A Question of Belief?

20 octobre

Dual stars traverse the pre-dawn sky: jets south of Paris hung in a panorama tableaux, with faint traces of clouds and the towers of Notre Dame to the far right, only one tower lit from its base as a reminder of what? Something sustained for the tourists, a half-baked, low-budget theme park son et lumiere, where the noise of the…

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14 October 2010

11 Entr’Actes/Cécile Broché

14 octobre, 2010

Cécile Broché, a recent arrival at Cité, called my apartment a few weeks ago to ask where the Open Studio was that I had advertised as open “24/7, Tout le Temps”… I explained to her that is existed in virtual space only, on my site web, and that I was not making my apartment available for visitors all day and night. (I’m not…

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13 October 2010

Paris, 12 octobre, 2010 Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker, Jérôme Bel, Ictus: 3 Abschied

Paris, 12 octobre, 2010

Anna Teresa De Keersmaeker, Jérôme Bel, Ictus: 3 Abschied

Can an established figure in the European post-modern dance scene be praised, forgiven or scorned for taking a risk by deconstructing Mahler, the ultimate (and perhaps last, along with Richard Strauss) maximalist romantic?  Tonight’s performance of 3 Abschied,…

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11 October 2010

The Dream of Paris/Buddhas du Musée Guimet

11 octobre, 2010

The Dream of Paris

Six weeks in Paris at the Cité Internationale des Arts: a dream that was planted in me 50 years ago like a seed in the fertile womb of my hyperactive imagination. From my first televised French lesson —sitting with my third-grade classmates in the auditorium of Dossin Elementary School, Detroit, 1959—I knew my…

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10 October 2010

10 octobre, 2010: Shake That Devil—A Tour of 4 Paris Dance Sites

Shake That Devil! Conception et Chorégraphie par Alban Richard/Ensemble l'Abrupt

It seemed like a great idea for an American in Paris to catch a Saturday night of dance the easy way: for the price of admission, 20 Euros, board a bus at Nation and be driven to four different performance sites. First stop: Atelier de Paris- Carolyn Carlson. An…

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10 October 2010

8 octobre, 2010:  Andrew Shirvell, I’m Man Enough for You

8 octobre, 2010

Andrew Shirvell, I’m Man Enough for You: A Dance in Commemoration of the Assistant Michigan Attorney General’s Voluntary Leave of Absence

This far from home, I feel somewhat powerless to respond to yet another example of homophobia in my home state. Andrew Shirvell has outdone many a Republican politician in bigoted,…

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07 October 2010

7 octobre, 2010: Paris Opera/Étude Perdue et Trouvée

7 octobre, 2010

Paris Opera/Etude Perdue et Trouvee

The best news of the day is that I’ve reconnected with pianist/composer extraordinaire Thollem McDonas (click here for his website and access to his CDs). Thollem is presently in my place of birth, Detroit, Michigan, working on music for a Matthew Barney spectacle being staged there. He has…

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07 October 2010

6 octobre, 2010/Robyn Orlin

Robyn Orlin at Théâtre de la Ville

Robyn Orlin’s new work is a sprawling, unruly mess. But so is life on the streets of South Africa. According to the program notes, which I waited to reference until after I’d seen the spectacle at Théâtre de la Ville, the one-hour work by the South African choreographer is in three parts:

Walking Next to Our…

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05 October 2010

4 octobre: La Chaise Libre/dimanche-10 variations

This is what Sunday brings: a set of variations on a theme of a room with two chairs, and a meditation on an empty chair. With La Chaise Libre, I ask: Is a “free” place or chair the same as an empty one? Can a space, a place, a chair, be like a void, a vacuum--waiting, begging, or demanding to be filled? Is it ever merely inanimate or…

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02 October 2010

2 octobre: Ives, Rzewski, and the Universal Lyre

2 octobre

Charles Ives comes to me this morning…the certain vibratory hum of Concord… And here in Paris, I am surrounded by pendulums, by the sound of my own body alone so often, sitting, in my room, or as I was, yesterday, in a cathedral, listening to an organist rehearsing, having my dome lifted upwards on arpeggios towards bone-white arches…

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01 October 2010

Videojournal de Paris Series 1: videos only—in order of their creation

Here is a quick index of videos made during my first month in Paris at Cité Internationale des Arts.
If you are not one to read the notes on the album cover, this is for you! Click on title for direct access to video. 

Paris videojournal #1, 9/5  
Deux Triptyques, 9/6 
Paris, le 8 septembre 
Triple Triptyque, 9/9  
Paris Acceleration #1, 9/11

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01 October 2010

vendredi, 1 octobre: Bach Cantata BWV 8

The first day of October! A crisp autumnal feel greets me as I open the window onto a rose-threaded sky, the dome of le Panthéon peeking over the plane trees  Memories of late-September stays at my friend Jim Irwin’s cottage nestled against the woods in Northern Michigan superimpose with today’s impressions. Superimposition, impression,…

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01 October 2010

mercredi 29 septembre The Bodytalk Template/Peter Chin

One of my proposed goals for this residency was to continue with a project I began over 5 years ago in Ann Arbor: The Bodytalk Template is part-video archive, part cross-cultural or comparative study of male dancers from diverse cultures, aesthetic backgrounds and forms of dance. So far, I have been able to capture on camera the improvisatory…

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28 September 2010

Photoformance I: Long Lie Down at Maison Européene de la Photographie, Paris

My stateside collaborator, friend and photographer Ernestine Ruben, was able to convince the powers at the Maison to make available in their library the video we have been working on for our installation at U-M Museum of Art. Ernie and Mi Jong Lee have a terrific show there now, entitled Images au Corps. See website for more details, hours,…

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28 September 2010

28 septembre/Cluny #2 with Liz

 28 septembre, 2010

Expansive swaths of slate-grey sky, kids with back packs striding crossing the rue de l'Hôtel de Ville below on their way to school, the coal-black spire of Notre Dame pointing a warning finger heavenward like the Wicked Witch of the West in goth Gaultier... another 8 a.m. in Paris. 
I'd lke to share this e-mail exchange with…

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26 September 2010

Oaks/An Inquiry— Paris, 26 septembre,


In the preserve aside the schoolyard,
stranded oaks submit their forked entreaties to the dawn,
combing the sky for the first feeble birdsong.
The coffee maker shudders to a halt,
hissing gratitude through the brown gold:
reward for waking.

Disabled by dreams, I was in that pocket of a city
where I always seem lost and flailing:
can’t find the…

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25 September 2010

Le Matin au Musée du Moyen Age/Cluny

26 septembre: What a bizarre night it is! 2:21 a.m. and I'm wide awake, with dance grooves rocking the foundations of my building and rattling the fixtures, all from a party in the next building--or is it from the Hôtel de Ville a few blocks away--some benefit for a heart foundation? My nose is bleeding internally from the drugs I was…

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23 September 2010

Hofesh Shechter/Political Mother

Political Mother, Hofesh Shechter Company, Théatre de la Ville, Paris, September 22, 2010    —Peter Sparling

Enter at the top of a sleep slope of seats, barely visible in the dense theatre fog. Already, we are immersed in an effect, calculated to?? (Despite this, the sight lines are still terrific at the Theatre de la Ville.) Like the smog…

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23 September 2010

Patient Spider


22 septembre: another 9 a.m. early slot in the Micadanses studios, and I’m determined to beat these allergy-like symptoms of congestion, heady heaviness and sapped energy. I want to “on” for the Cité reception today and for my first foray into Paris danse tonight at the Théatre de Ville with Hofesh Shechter.

This feeling I have at times of…

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18 September 2010

Paris Acceleration 2, le 16 septembre

16 septembre

It’s pre-dawn, 6:11 a.m., and Orion hovers over the Seine. He eyes a lonely star hanging just left above the spire of Notre Dame. I awake having dreamed of deer descending steep slpoes towards swollen rivers; a man with a sled and hoist navigation device (like the models of rigs displayed at the Musée des Arts et Métiers)…

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16 September 2010

16 septembre/poem


Petit Ouverture 

The black blade of la péniche cuts along the ribbons of green, liquid light—
a ripple, the barge’s before and after, beyond the rounded point of
the Quai de Bourbon, pinned by a solitary plane tree leaning over the Seine.

Like a pendulum commissioned by the roi, Notre Dame’s needled spire
rises in perfect alignment above,…

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15 September 2010

Pourquoi et Petite Ouverture


15 septembre:  These trifles were made on a day I was expecting very little of myself. What will come of them? A day later, I think I’ve partially unlocked the “Y” in Pourquoi?  (The support beams along the walls of the studio were the obvious inspiration.) Working in the studio this morning, I played with the “Y” connection centered between…

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15 September 2010

Pourquoi et Petite Ouverture (Coming soon!)

See above!

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13 September 2010


Panneaux (Panels) came about on a Sunday morning (12 septembre) in the upstairs studio across the street. Something about the vertical window and the light it shed on the floor gave a natural backdrop and framing for a tableau vivant to the divine music of Rameau: Pièces de clavecin played so exquisitely by Christophe Rousset and his…

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12 September 2010

Two Little Dances/ Handel & Bach

Two little dances mark the end of my first week here.

Petit Bach places me once again in the sweet embrace of Bach’s solo violin music. I isolate myself in a vertical niche or shrine, and attempt to embody the sound…  I “play” its sound/score as it plays my body/instrument. I found a black table without one of its legs leaning on an angle and…

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11 September 2010

Paris Acceleration, le 11 septembre, 2010

For Paris Acceleration, (first cut), I was inspired yet again by a Francis Bacon triptych of male nudes--this one occupying an entire gallery wall at the Centre Pompidou. Clearing away the furniture in my apartment, I shot a series of “still” nudes of myself against my modest wall, with the assignment to remain still (and understand what that…

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09 September 2010

Triple Triptyque— Paris, le 9 septembre

Paris, 9 septembre: So much better... I went back to the triptych material from a few days ago and tried to acknowledge the immobile dominance of the frame with still camera. (It was so difficult to play within the negative space in each panel and make it not only poetic but have a dynamic relationship between all three. Thanks to Ernie Ruben…

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09 September 2010

Paris, 8 septembre…

I have been given access to a wonderful studio at Micadanses. The light and depth of the space are inspiring. I made a little solo in silence then set it to a Satie piano work. Lying on my back to rest, I noticed the light coming through the ceiling's sun roof panels. The video attempts to capture its magic and my state of being in Paris, 8…

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07 September 2010

Deux Triptyques- 9/6/10

Click here for Deux Triptyques, (two versions of the same set of three solo portraits), danced and videotaped in my exclusive atelier: the front room of my apartment! The light coming through my two windows from the south, high over the Seine, inspired me to set up shop at home.  I cleared away the furniture and made my first étude of hopefully…

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06 September 2010

Videojournal—Labor Day entry, Sept. 6, 2010: Welcome to Cité!

Bonjour! Access welcome video here.

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04 September 2010

Paris Journal: Entry 3



If one is to really work seriously and mindfully with a (video) camera, it has to be something about how one sees or casts one’s vision onto things. The “eye” of the camera: does it “will” or dominate what is to be seen? How naïve to think the camera can stand in for or mimic the fleeting, fitful improvisation of the actual gaze. But then…

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29 August 2010

Paris Journal: l Entry 2


What new rhythms await me? Can I shed the habitual responses to originate a new response to a new set of tensions?   In her chapter on “Time” from Poetics of Contemporary Dance, Laurence Louppe states:

An accent or release between a tension and counter-tension within the body, however, is never a break but rather always a transition.…

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23 August 2010

Videocartepostales de Paris

Paris Journal –Peter Sparling

8/6/10 Ann Arbor, MI.  In anticipation of my upcoming 4-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts...

I’m walking across the playground at dusk, when these thoughts come to me. I speak this into my cell phone, leaving this message (or the gist of it) on the answering machine of my home phone to retrieve…

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21 August 2010

Naked Came I/Eye: Lights, Camera and the Ultimate Spectacle

Peter Sparling - Naked Came I/Eye: Lights, Camera and the Ultimate Spectacle image

I recently presented this paper the annual Society of Dance History Scholars conference at University of Surrey in Guildford, England. This year's theme was "Dance and Spectacle". 
My presentation was one of the few by a working artist about his own work. My challenges: How do I look back upon my own work and place it under various theoretical…

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21 August 2010

An Experiment in 3-D Motion Capture

The U-M Digital Media Commons is a playground for research in technologies that record, reveal, enhance and/or recreate movement of the human body. 
This video captures a moment during a recent "play session" when a group of high school students walked in to the Video Studio while I was improvising in my motion capture body suit.

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22 May 2010

The “i” Word

A student in my Screendance course, Helen Zhang, has created a wonderful video that surveys the interdisciplinary (the "i" word) work of a handful of professors at U-M.
Check it out at http://youtube.com/watch?v=c7iO7qXoyUk 

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01 April 2010

Mid-States Regional Ballet Festival

Presented by Michigan's own Ballet Americana located in Taylor, MI, this festival features master classes, adjudications and performances. I will teach six master classes in Contemporary Dance April 29-May 1. See website: http://balletamericana.org/

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01 April 2010

To Paris!

I will be in residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris September 3-December 27, 2010. While part of an international community of 270 artists, i will present my work, continue to make screendances, develop The Bodytalk Template, a comparative, intercultural study of male dance improvisers, and write about European dance for Ballet…

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16 November 2009

Ethics on Teaching Dance

On a2ethics.org,celebrated dancers and teachers of their art, Peter Sparling and Sheila Graziano, join Bart and Jeanine in a fascinating two-part discussion on the ethics of teaching dance. Their discussions are as kinetically intelligent as dance itself. Among the topics we moved in and out of, to and from, as well as back and forth: the…

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15 November 2009

University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Guest Artist Series

"The Visual Body, The Visceral Eye", a lecture/demonstration for UW-Madison's Art Department, Nov. 3, 2009 . See link.

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14 November 2009

Photoformance: An Empathic Environment (IN PROGRESS)

This collaboration features Ernestine Ruben, photographer, Peter Sparling, choreographer/video artist, Monica Ponce de Leon, architect, and Erik Santos, composer, and will culminate in a gallery installation at University of Michigan Museum of Art involving video projections onto an architectural environment. Check out our temporary website for…

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14 November 2009

The Gallery Project’s “Capturing Motion”, Nov. 4-Dec. 6, 2009

My screendance, SIDE B, is part of this stimulating and very kinetic show at our excellent "local" art gallery in Ann Arbor. See link. 

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14 November 2009

InShadow 1st Internacional Festival of Video, Performance and Technology, Lisbon, Portugal

Two of my screendances —Babel and SIDE B— were selected for screening at this festival, taking place Nov. 24-26 at Lisbon's Theatro Sao Luiz. See link.


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