Joanna Haigood

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2014

San Francisco, CA

As artistic director and co-founder of Zaccho Dance Theatre, Haigood creates work that involves natural, architectural, and cultural environments, in-depth research into the history and character of those sites, and often integrate aerial flight and suspension. In PAESO (2012)—which received a MAP Fund grant—more than 80 performers roved fire escapes, stoops, and sidewalks of the South Bronx, evoking the neighborhood’s vibrant street life during the 1940s through the 1960s. Just a few of her numerous awards include a USA Fellowship (2007), a Creative Capital Award (2002), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1997). Recently, she opened Zaccho’s Center for Dance and Aerial Arts in San Francisco with a mission to offer aerial dance training for people of all ages and skill levels. She also teaches at San Francisco Clown Conservatory. Al Pozzo Di Sogno (into the well of dreams) (2011), a modern fairy tale inspired by Ann Hamilton's Tower, returns to Oliver Ranch in Geyserville, CA in 2014.

  • Photo Credit: Raissa Simpson
  • Photo Credit: John Kent
    Al Pozzo di Sogno (into the well of dreams) (2011)
  • Joanna Haigood- Al Pozzo di Sogno (into the well of dreams) (2011):
    Al Pozzo di Sogno (into the well of dreams) (2011)
  • Photo Credit: Stephen Phillips
    Departure and Arrival (2007)
  • Joanna Haigood- Departure and Arrival (2007) :
    Departure and Arrival (2007)
  • Photo Credit: Ira Nowinski
    Ghost Architecture (2004)

What fuels your impulse to make creative work?

I am fascinated by the connection between memory and place, the resonance of past lives and events evidenced in the architecture, in the landscape, in our behaviors. I really enjoy research, especially when it requires solving complex puzzles.

I love a good challenge—the bigger the better. Impossible is my favorite motivator. I have always been attracted to working at a large scale. I dream of creating work that makes an approach from a mile away or from 1000 feet above ground. Expanding and contracting space, perspective, interacting with architecture, making long and broad strokes—this inspires me. Of course, I am also inspired by new ways to charge the performance space with aerial techniques.

I need to understand how I fit into the world. I am compelled to learn how my work can make a contribution to the causes of civil rights and social justice. Because of the extraordinary people working on the ground, I am inspired to do my part.