Lift that up

This WORLD PREMIERE featured the work of DANA MICHEL, bringing two years of research to the stage amidst her three year-long tenure as Dancemakers Resident Artist, premiering at PROGRESS festival.

Dana Michel is breaking open a solo practice that is reflective/reflexive, both deliciously impenetrable and supremely inviting. The singular poetry of dancemaking, its special fuzzy logic, but specifically (in Michel’s own words) “the bulimic logic of hip hop”. With LIFT THAT UP, Michel transposes her work onto a group of dancers with a long working relationship and history. This history gives them the kind of dance-symbiosis shared by bodies-who-have-shared space. I wonder: if Michel is one person working on a multiplicity of identity while working with three people who could foreseeably share a sort of singular body, do we have a switch happening? In my mind with this work Michel becomes three people outside of a work in which three people become one person. There is no trick like that of live performance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   -Dancemakers Curator Amelia Ehrhardt



Dana Michel is a choreographer and performer based in Montreal, Canada.  Before entering the BFA in Contemporary Dance program at Concordia University in her late twenties, she was a marketing executive, competitive runner and football player. In 2011, She had the honour of being a danceWEB scholar, allowing her to deepen her research process at the ImPulsTanz International Dance Festival in Vienna, Austria.
Michel’s newest solo, Yellow Towel, premiered at the 2013 Festival TransAmériques (Montreal) to critical acclaim.  The work featured on the “Top Five” and the “Top Ten” 2013 dance moments in the Voir newspaper (Montreal) and Dance Current Magazine (Canada) respectively and was singled out as one of the most remarkable productions at the 2014 American Realness Festival (New York City) by the New York Times.  Recently, she was awarded the newly created Impulstanz Award in recognition for artistic excellence after presenting Yellow Towel at Impulstanz 2014.


i am and we then were thinking about: how to get yo life and how to live these skins.

and then i and we thought: let’s live some specific micro moments in a glass box, okay.

so then:
is it possible to wear another person like a glove? is it possible to inflate the glove, attach yourself to it by some string, light a fire under it and float with it to unknown but at least higher places?

and one of the forethoughts:
It is not playdough.  It would be too basic to assume that it is just here to be my son. He becomes bigger than me.  And he’s not about me but I am a part, I am a big and small part. I’m the mom, but that’s just a word.


An amalgam of choreography, intuitive improvisation and performance art, my artistic practice is rooted in exploring the disorderly multiplicity of identity.  I work with notions of performative alchemy and post-cultural bricolage – using live moments, object appropriation, personal history, future desires and current preoccupations to create an empathetic centrifuge of experience between myself and witnesses. Today, my work can perhaps best be described by its influences:  lucid cinematography, living sculpture, physical comedy, psychological excavation, deconstructed social commentary, the bulimic logic of Hip Hop and child-like naïveté.
It is a metaphor of humans as mathematical proofs that helps me understand the world around me.  I consider myself, and others, to be like proofs – complex entities made up of billions of equations. The topics that I choose to explore in my work, such as identity duality and marginalized existences, tend to be intimate parts of my personal equation. I feel that making work by tapping into my life experiences is the most effective path to self-knowledge and to meaningful connection with others.
In research, I alternate between the work that takes place in and out of the studio. After pouring over a subject via writing, reading, discussion and audiovisual research – I relax my focus and let the body take over. I feed myself with sound, silence and dissonance, at times over-stuffing my body and psyche with stimulation to see its response.  And then the minute details pop into my seeing and kinetic vision. Sometimes these details manifest in visceral-based movement and sounds and other times in ideas for colour, texture or light. These details are what clarify the work’s creative direction for me.
Because of my background in competitive sport, I am often drawn to using difficulty as a choreographic navigation methodology.  Encouraging my performances into places of emergency and vulnerability allow me to dig deeper into the material and to therefore share richer and perhaps more honest findings.  My relatively late and blind introduction to the world of contemporary art seems to infuse a sort of Art Brut sensibility to my performance work.
My pieces have been created and shared in diverse spaces, cities and countries.  Inhabiting both traditional and non-traditional places has become a key component in the creation of my work.  It is important for me to be able to speak to different cuts of the population in different moments of time, and I am always aware of how these location changes can affect both the sending and the receiving of the work.
I aim to construct works in such a manner that there is much to gain no matter what the public’s knowledge or background. All perceptions of the work are just as valid and important as its intentions – a notion of exponential multiplicity of reactions is welcome.  My work is meant to leave a vast open space for viewers to understand whatever they want and need to understand.  A goal is to encourage a broadening of interpretation and space for audience members to create their own logic of witnessing and experiencing.  I am interested in sharing a journey where along the way a new manner of seeing can be formed.