Juliana F. May

A Guggenheim and NYFA Fellow, Juliana F. May has created nine works since 2002, including seven evening-length pieces with commissions and encore performances from Dance Theater Workshop, New York Live Arts, The Chocolate Factory Theater, Barnard College, The New School, Joyce SoHo and The American Realness Festival. May has been awarded grants and residencies through The Map Fund, The Jerome foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Gibney Dance In Process. In 2002 May received her BA in Dance and Art History from Oberlin College and in 2012, she received an MFA in Choreography from the University Wisconsin-Milwaukee. May is the Artistic Advisor for New York Live Arts' Fresh Tracks Residency Program as well as teaching composition at Sarah Lawrence College during the 2017-18 school year. Last year May became the Chair of the Dance Department at Usdan Summer Program for the Arts.

Visiting Artist | May 12 -24, 2018

Folk Incest

Juliana F. May came to MANCC to develop her work, Folk Incest, a piece that explores uncomfortable arousal, sexual trauma, incest and the fetishization of young girls. Seeking to expose compulsivity as a mechanism for both coping and adapting to trauma, May is interested in looking at unconscious motivation and defensive operations like hyper vigilance in an effort to lament, re-perform, and admonish various systems of oppression that silence and make bodies invisible.

In keeping with her previous works, May continues to mine uncomfortable truths, revealing both their mundane and horrifying qualities. Exploring the residue of daily interactions, May seeks to expose unthinkable thoughts that fester unconsciously.

This project signals a shift in May’s practice, as she upends her long-standing, primarily physical practice. While still attending to formal choreographic concerns such as repetition and directionality, May’s choreographic strategies for this work will shift from specific movement languages to spoken subject matter to unearth a new practice.

While at MANCC, May and her collaborators continued to generate text, vocalizations, and images driven by their personal narratives. Content was then mapped through an iterative editing process. The finished work will be a play, a dance, a confessional, and a personal testimony compressed to create a new non-fiction.

At this phase of the project, May focused on three main points of departure: 1) the lineage of post-modernism in both dance and visual art, 2) the development of feminist theory, and 3) the ways trauma is physically housed and processed in the body. To further explore these concepts, May invited FSU’s Dr. Robin Truth Goodman, a professor of feminist literature, into the studio to see the work and discuss the aesthetics of feminism found in various forms of cultural production.

To develop the visual elements of the work, May worked with Sarah Jahnke, Manager of the Costume Shop in FSU’s School of Theatre, to explore make-up design ideas, and discuss trends, application techniques, and how makeup has been used historically.

Seeking inspiration from the medieval period, May and her cast also attended a local Renaissance Faire, a part of Southern Shakespeare Company’s annual Shakespeare Festival at Cascades Park. From this experience, May was inspired to write a sonnet-style song for the work.

At the end of the 12-day residency, May held a public work-in-progress showing, during which she experimented with a non-traditional seating arrangement.

As a part of MANCC’s Embedded Writers Initiative, May and her collaborators were joined in residence by Rennie McDougall. This initiative, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed to support the re-imagining of dance writing conventions in order to better respond to and engage with a wider range of ever-evolving contemporary forms in dance and performance. McDougall is a dance artist and writer who is intimately familiar with May’s work and process. At MANCC they continued their partnership to provide further context to May’s work.

Folk Incest will premiere at Abrons Art Center in New York City in the Fall of 2018.

  • Performers in residence for Juliana May's <i>Folk Incest</i>
  • Performers rehearse <i>Folk Incest</i>
  • Rennie McDougall, writer in residence
  • May and performers rehearse text
  • <i>Folk Incest</i> rehearsal
  • Molly Poerstel-Taylor
  • Dr. Robin Truth Goodman, a professor of feminist literature, visits studio
  • Lucy Kaminsky and Juliana May
  • Tatyana Tennenbaum, composer
  • Leslie Cuyjet
  • Juliana May and performers talk about text
  • <i>Folk Incest</i> showing for FSU and local community
  • <i>Folk Incest</i> showing
  • <i>Folk Incest</i> showing
  • Folk Incest</i> showing
  • Juliana May
  • Molly Poerstel-Taylor and Lucy Kaminsky
  • Lesli Cuyjet, Tess Dworman and Lucy Kaminsky
Collaborators in Residence: Sarah A.O. Rosner [Manager], Leslie Cuyjet, Lucy Kaminsky, Rebecca Wender, Tess Dworman and Molly Poerstel-Taylor [Performers], Tatyana Tennenbaum [Composer], Rennie McDougall [Writer].

World Premiere

Ronald K. Brown

The Equality of Night
and Day (TEND)

June 29 - July 3
Jacob's Pillow Dance
Festival (MA)


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