Jeanine Durning

Jeanine Durning is an Alpert Award winning choreographer, performer and teacher, whose work has been described by The New Yorker as having both “the potential for philosophical revelation and theatrical disaster.” Her research is often motivated by fundamental questions around how our basic desire for connection and communication aligns, and often misaligns, with how our thinking and feeling come to form and action.

Since 1998, Durning has created both solo and group works that have been presented nationally and internationally. Her most recent projects are centered around a procedural practice she calls nonstopping. In 2010, Durning premiered her critically acclaimed solo inging (based on nonstop speaking) in Amsterdam, and has since then been performed over 45 times in studios, theaters, galleries, rooms and festivals across Europe (Stockholm, Berlin, Zagreb, Kristiansand/Norway and Leuven/Belgium), the US (NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Williams College, UMBC), in Toronto, Canada. The arts journalist, Camille LeFevre of Minneapolis wrote: “Jeanine Durning’s inging is the cri de coeur of a dancer, choreographer and actor struggling, with every cell of her being, to smash any distinctions between those three identities while, more importantly, refuting any notions that body and mind, spirit and sensation, voice and physicality, emotion and intellect are separate.”

Durning’s work has been supported and awarded by two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in Choreography (2016, 2006), the Alpert Award for Choreography (2007), the Movement Research Artist in Residence (2013-2015), Gibney Dance Center’s Dance in Process Residency (2015), Brooklyn Arts Exchange Space Grant (2013), Viola Farber Residency through Sarah Lawrence College (2007), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Space Grant (2005), Dance Theater Workshop Choreographic Lab (2005), Dance Space Center Residency (2004), The Yard Choreographic Residency (2002), The Bossak Heilbron Charitable Foundation grant (2002), and a Meet The Composer grant (2002).

In support of her new project dark matter, selfish portrait, Durning has received residencies at Seoul Dance Center, Korea through Movement Research Exchange and Asian Cultural Council (September 2017) and the Rauschenberg Foundation Residency (November/December 2017).

Durning is a sought-out performer, having collaborated with many choreographers, including David Dorfman (with whom she worked from 1995-2003), Susan Rethorst, Bebe Miller, Martha Clarke, Chris Yon and Richard Siegal. Since 2005, Durning has worked on and off with post-modern dance pioneer and choreographer Deborah Hay in the capacities of performer, choreographic assistant and most recently, from 2011-2013, as consultant to the Motion Bank (Frankfurt) on Ms. Hay’s choreographic and scoring practices.

Durning has had an ongoing teaching practice since 2000, facilitating classes/workshops/ateliers in movement and choreographic practices. She is dedicated to the transfer, transmission and translation of embodied knowledge to a future generation of performers and makers. She sees her teaching practice as a natural extension of her research of dance, focusing on how action, affect, content and context are in shared dialogue with choreographer, performer and audience alike. Durning has taught at numerous institutions across the US, including most recently at UCLA/WAC, and in Europe, including The School for New Dance Development (SNDO) in Amsterdam and with The Inter-University Centre for Dance (HZT) in Berlin.

Durning is often invited to advise the work of other choreographers as mentor and/or dramaturge. She has worked in this capacity with many choreographers including Ame Henderson (Toronto), Lito Walkey (Berlin), Tian Rooteveel (Berlin), Christina Ciupke (Berlin), Alma Soderberg (Brussels), Simon Tanguy (Rennes), Sam Kim (NYC), Julian Barnett (NYC), Quim Bassart (Stockholm), Meg Foley (Philadelphia), and Michelle Boule (NYC).

Visiting Artist | January 16 - 23, 2018 // May 29 - June 16, 2018

dark matter, selfish portrait

Award winning choreographer, Jeanine Durning, first came to MANCC in 2008 as a performer in Deborah Hay’s work If I Sing to You. Returning as a choreographer in her own right, Durning utilized her first of two MANCC residencies this season to develop her solo dark matter, selfish portrait, using movement, language, sound, and situations to practice and interrogate subjectivity as a variable state and a paradoxical act of de-creation and unselfing.

As a meta-contemplation on the act of creating a performed ritual of self-transformation and otherness, Durning initially researched the history of self-portraiture in art and performance, and explored notions of (self)/consciousness and reflexivity, the individual’s perception of themselves in relation to society, the unknown/unseen, uncertainty, variability, and entropy.

Continuing with her ongoing solo practice of “nonstopping,” Durning is questioning whether the self can observe itself or if the self is only manifested by being observed by another. Her questions include: How is the individual performed in society? What is the individual’s purpose or place in the universe? What is the role of the solo performer when witnessed by audience? Is solo performance an oxymoron? What selves are we performing when witnessed by another? Can individuals ever really have a “personal” narrative, or is it always part of a collection of narratives? How does the consumption and velocity of global information affect the concept of self, as a concept of Western culture, and how do notions of the social (socialism, globalism, pluralism, multiculturalism) represent a loss of power in American ideologies?

Durning draws inspiration from William James’s philosophy of radical empiricism, which emphasizes the role of a subject’s experience in defining reality, and the work of Samuel Beckett, which probes the individual’s search for meaning and radically explores the gulf between our desires and the language we use to express them.

During her time at MANCC, Durning met with FSU’s Dr. Stanley Gontarski, Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English, whose research interests include European Modernism and performance theory, and who has published several books on the work of Samuel Beckett. Gontarski discussed Beckett’s oeuvre with Durning to further inform her embodied research on “the self” in both performance and society. She also discussed the theory of dark matter with astrophysicist Dr. Jeremiah Murphy. Durning further explored her ideas with School of Dance students in Dr. Jen Atkins’ graduate level MANCC Experience course and Dr. Hannah Schwadron’s Contemporary Perspectives in Dance class.

Durning will return to MANCC for a second residency in June 2018 to continue her work on dark matter, selfish portrait. This multi-residency support is made possible through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which allows artists to more thoroughly research their ideas in multiple phases.

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  • Durning discusses her ideas with FSU School of Dance students
  • Durning talks with FSU Professor of English Dr. Stanley Gontarski about the work of Samuel Beckett
  • Durning discusses the theory of dark matter with FSU astrophysicist Dr. Jeremiah Murphy

World Premiere

Rosie Herrera

Make Believe
July 6 - 7
American Dance
Festival, (NC)


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