Michelle Ellsworth


Doris Duke Impact Award, 2015
Dance

Boulder, CO

At age seven, Michelle Ellsworth told her mother “I want to be a dancer,” after watching the Ernest Flat Dancers on The Carol Burnett Show. Today, she uses humor and technology to explore a range of challenging themes including gender, genetics, politics, and ecology. Clytigation (2015)—a project of Creative Capital and named New York Times best of dance 2015—explores protocols for avoiding surveillance, interpersonal drama, and death. She also often develops and produces websites as part of her creative process. Choreography Generator (2014), the companion phone app to Clytigation, allows users to reorganize ten versions of six movement phrases into over one million different dances. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her current work, The Rehearsal Artist, is a 2015 MAP Fund Project, which is part installation, part performance, and part social science experiment set up to observe the slippery nature of identity.

  • Photo Credit: Satchel Spencer
  • Michelle Ellsworth- Clytigation: State of Exception (2014): /128148666
    Clytigation: State of Exception (2014)
  • Michelle Ellsworth- Preparation for the Obsolescence of the Y Chromosome (2015): http://vimeo.com/151669224
    Preparation for the Obsolescence of the Y Chromosome (2015)
  • Michelle Ellsworth- Clytigation: State of Exception (2014): http://vimeo.com/151645622
    Clytigation: State of Exception (2014)
  • Michelle Ellsworth- Phone Homer (2013): /128150430
    Phone Homer (2013)
  • Photo Credit: Michelle Ellsworth
    Clytigation: State of Exception (2014)
  • Photo Credit: Michelle Tarantina
    Clytigation: State of Exception (2014)
  • Photo Credit: Michelle Tarantina
    Clytigation: State of Exception (2014)
  • Photo Credit: Satchel Spencer
    Phone Homer (2011)
  • Photo Credit: Ian Douglas courtesy of American Realness
    Preparation for the Obsolescence of the Y Chromosome (2015)
  • Photo Credit: Satchel Spencer
    Clytigation: State of Exception (2014)

Thinking back to the start of your career, what is the most useful advice you ever received?

When I was 20, I regularly took class from the extraordinary dancer, Cathy Ward. Once we went out to eat after class; I ordered a salad (as I had been trained to do at SF Ballet). She ordered two sides of mashed potatoes with gravy. Witnessing Ward’s purchase and consumption of lubricated tubers marked the genesis of my ever-expanding definition of a dancer. If a dancer can eat mashed potatoes, surely she can bury food, make videos, and comprehend JavaScript.