Stephen Petronio


Doris Duke Artist Award, 2015
Dance

New York, NY

In 1984, Stephen Petronio’s self-named company set out to explore the intuitive and complex nature of the body through movement. He has collaborated with a wide range of artists, most recently with hip-hop musician Clams Casino on Locomotor (2014), which investigated directional pulls within the body, moving the dancers in zigzags and dizzying circular patterns. Based on death and resurrection, his installation Like Lazarus Did (2013) featured a body suspended above the audience (Living Sculpture by artist Janine Antoni), dancers in white dresses, and depicted him as the death figure in a black suit. He has received many international commissions, including The Scottish Ballet and National Dance Company of Wales. His accolades include multiple NEFA National Dance Project grants, a Bessie Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1998). His memoir, Confessions of a Motion Addict, was published in 2014. This year, he launches Bloodlines, a five-year initiative in which his company will commemorate works by trailblazing choreographers like Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown through performance.

  • Photo Credit: Sarah Silver
    Stephen Petronio
  • Stephen Petronio- Locomotor (2014): /109964928
    Locomotor (2014)
  • Stephen Petronio- Like Lazarus Did (2013): /99338896
    Like Lazarus Did (2013)
  • Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes
    Locomotor (2014)
  • Photo Credit: Yi-Chun Wu
    Like Lazarus Did (2013)

What fuels your impulse to make creative work?

I believe in the power of movement. My language is a continuum of motion predicated on the conscious direction of energy throughout the body and into space. The spine undulates, twisting and torqueing; hips sling, thrust forward off the legs and into the eye of the audience; head and limbs whip through space extending out into arcs of enlivened calligraphy; literal and personal gestures bubble to the surface, then disappear back into the dense mix. My artistic concerns shift constantly, but the following run through my investigations with some sense of regularity: a commitment to multidisciplinary collaborators; multiple states of consciousness in the body; physical play; accidental discovery that defies logic and the tools that facilitate these "accidents;" rapidly shifting architectural structures; the relationship between order and chaos; issues of power and control; communal structures for behaving; hybrid constructions of gender and sexuality; and a relationship to pop culture.