Morgan Thorson


Doris Duke Artist Award, 2016
Dance

Minneapolis, MN

Morgan Thorson animates spaces and interrogates dance production by choreographing movement, light, and sound. She draws from many approaches. In Faker (2006), she used mimicry, narrative, and song to demystify practices within the dance field. Heaven (2010), a dance devotional, was born from extreme limitation, and used formalism to reach ecstatic release. Spaceholder Festival (2012) was an archaeological dig, excavating behavior and memory from the body. Like a discovered artifact, it revealed a layered story—part truth, part lie, part object, and part dance. She is a United States Artist, Guggenheim Fellow, and two-time McKnight Fellow who has been supported by NEFA National Dance Project and NPN Creation Fund. In 2015, she began Still Life, using time as a subject. This ongoing installation processes loss, killing, and extinction through movement and stillness. She is a Creative Campus Fellow at Wesleyan University, where she engages students and professors in interdisciplinary practices and develops pedagogy in dance, archaeology, and religious studies.

  • Photo Credit: Morgan Thorson
    Morgan Thorson
  • Photo Credit: Ryutero Mishima
    Heaven (2010)
  • Morgan Thorson- Spaceholder Festival (2011): http://vimeo.com/160522882
    Spaceholder Festival (2011)
  • Photo Credit: Lenore Doxsee
    Spaceholder Festival (2011)
  • Photo Credit: Morgan Thorson
    Faker (2006)
  • Photo Credit: Madeline Best
    YOU (2014)
  • Photo Credit: Madeline Best
    YOU (2014)
  • Photo Credit: Valerie Oliveiro
    Still Life (2015)

What are the creative challenges you face as an artist?

My challenge as a dance-maker is to search for the edges and the center of dance simultaneously; to seek out its interior and exterior spaces, with body, identity, architecture, and image, and to keep the faith that this search is relevant. Dance is my own form of optimism. It requires a specific kind of attention from everyone involved, and weaves a complex reciprocity between itself and its performers, creators, and spectators. It also challenges me to do something new, to buck originality, to learn new tools, to move into the unknown, while remaining loyal to my associative mind—a little rough and a little wild. My dance creation is a slow calculation, a mash up of possibility and failure, with the aspiration of generating a new form of reality. At times, choreography seems to be at odds with everything that is practical, and yet, I am dedicated to it as an invaluable form of cultural production.