eryn rosenthal InitialInvestigation About

A bit more about me:
I’m a social practice and site-based artist, originally from Michigan, USA; my work is alternately silly and absurdist or of a more serious nature, investigating transitions and human rights-related issues. My choreography and other projects come out of my background in performance improvisation, contemporary dance, visual arts, contact improvisation, theater, and formative research and interview projects I’ve conducted with genocide survivors from Bosnia, the testimony of Holocaust survivors, and a diverse mix of artists, activists, and others throughout post-Apartheid South Africa. I’ve worked with playwright/ documentary theater pioneer Anna Deavere Smith, inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander, and choreographers Sello Pesa, Jay Pather, and Sol Picó, among others; my research and performance have been the recipients of multiple fellowships and awards, including the Open Society Institute President’s Grant and a Fulbright Fellowship, and I have published several articles in Spanish stemming from my work.

With my ongoing series, The Doors Project, I’ve been taking performance investigations based on observations of transition—political, familial, economic, intimate—and locating them in doorways, thresholds, and other transitory spaces around the world. The series premiered in Spain, and has taken several different forms so far: site-specific performances in doorways, archways, kiosks and stairwells throughout central Barcelona as part of Festival Lilliput; an animated short with visual artist Marta Azparren and Elliott Cooper; as well as a life-size doorframe on wheels—complete with floating door-handle—that my collaborators and I pushed uphill to La Puerta del Sol, the site of massive protests at the center of Madrid that inspired the Occupy Wall Street movement in the U.S. (photos, press coverage, and more information available through the links above). The Doors Project has literally opened the doors of First Street Green Art Park in New York City, and has just broken ground on a different type of doorway: the horizon.

I am also honored to have been commissioned by The Studios of Key West to direct their first inter-community initiative on local water issues, as part of the National Water Dance Project. The work was featured on NPR.

My recent research investigates the democratic underpinnings of contact improvisation, which I have taught at the University of Michigan as well as at the Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy (CANRAD) and the Market Theatre in South Africa, La Universidad Complutense in Madrid, the In-Touch Festival in Barcelona, the Freiburg International Festival in Germany, UMass Amherst and elsewhere.  My related performance, Freedom Suite: Transaction Being Processed, examines the role of the body in transgressing previously legislated boundaries, based on ongoing oral history research with activists from the politically active township of New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The performance premiered as my MFA thesis at the University of Michigan.

After returning to my research in South Africa and Spain, I came back to U-M in a different capacity, as a King-Chávez-Parks Visiting Professor and Artist in Residence for Dialogue-Building, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives. My residency culminated with a public film series; a choreographic commission on expanding definitions of beauty; and an interdisciplinary seminar, Personal, Present and Immediate: Making Performance on Socio-Political Questions, among other initiatives. I was honored by the U-M President and Provost’s Office for my innovative diversity and inclusion work on campus. I have recently returned to New York City, and have taught at Yale University.  www.erynrosenthal.com