Biography - Jennifer Monson, Artistic director, choreographer and performer, BIRD BRAIN
Dancing is a sifting through, a gleaning,
a search for that glint that binds us to a moment of recognition.
Dancing is a visible language of hidden meanings,
biting at the heels of what is knowable.
Jennifer Monson has been pursuing an original approach to experimental dance forms in NYC since 1983 when she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. In that time, she has created a wide body of work that incorporates well-developed collaborative relationships with many artists including Zeena Parkins, John Jasperse, Yvonne Meier and David Zambrano. Her solo work has been presented at many venues in the US, Australia, Europe, Latin America and Tanzania. Her project, BIRD BRAIN, has been awarded two Rockefeller Foundation MAP Grants (2000 and 2003), a New York Foundation on the Arts (NYFA) BUILD Grant (2000), Creative Capital Foundation Grant (including second round competitive funding, 1999-2001), Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation grant, New England LEF Foundation grant and Altria Inc. grants. The BIRD BRAIN: Ducks and Geese Migration has also received an NPN Community Fund grant for documentation and evaluation. The three BIRD BRAIN Migrations each provided approximately 30 free outdoor performances from Mexico to Canada and from Maine, through Cuba to Venezuela and from Texas to Canada. In the Ducks and Geese Migration school children in four cities participated in the educational component and in BIRD BRAIN "Flocking dances."
Monson's work has been supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship (2004), the Jerome Foundation (1996, 1998, and 1999-01, 2003-04) and the NYFA Fellowship Program (1989 and 1998). In 1998, she received an Artists Fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art. She has been a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer's Fellowship for 1989, 1992, 1993-95, and 1995-97. In 1997, she was awarded a New York Dance and Performance Award ("BESSIE") for Sender and for sustained achievement in the dance field. Her work has also been supported by Creative Time Inc, Dancing in the Streets, Movement Research (Artist in Residence, 1990), The Open Meadows Foundation, The Puffin Foundation and the Martha Porter Fund, and, in collaboration with Zeena Parkins, by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Meet The Composer and the American Composers Forum. Her work has been reviewed by such writer/critics as Ann Cooper Albright, Sally Banes, Jennifer Dunning and Deborah Jowitt. The Osprey Migration was reported on CBS Radio's The Osgood's Files. The Ducks and Geese Migration was profiled in the "One Small Step" Column of the September/October issue of Sierra Magazine.
Since 1985, Monson and composer Zeena Parkins have been committed to an ongoing investigation of the dynamic interplay of dance and music. In January 2002, they premiered atlas of holes - pitfall, dug/out, crater at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn. Monson also has collaborated extensively with Yvonne Meier and performed in the works of Cathy Weis, DANCENOISE, Karen Finley, Eileen Myles & Ellen Fisher, Lisa Kraus, Fred Holland, John Zorn, Yoshiko Chuma, John Bernd, Pooh Kaye/Eccentric Motions and Jennifer Miller's Circus AMOK, among others. For several years she curated dance/music improvisation series (Hothouse and Dive-in) and has a strong commitment to improvisation as a performance form. She has participated in improvisational festivals in New York, Seattle, Stuttgart, Minneapolis, Montreal and San Francisco as a teacher, performer and panelist. Monson is a dedicated teacher in a wide range of communities in New York City. From 1996-1998 she was a NYFA artist in residence at The Neighborhood School in Manhattan where she integrated movement and music into the science/physics curriculum for the third and fourth grades; she also directed two projects with the El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice in her community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Brinca Charcos (1995) and THE SUGAR PROJECT (1997). Her early childhood classes for Children's Liberation Daycare can be seen on the TV show "Sesame Street." She is currently a Dance Theater Workshop Artist in Residence integrating navigation and migration into a dance resource guide for 3rd and 4th graders in collaboration with The Walker Art Center in MN.
Monson also teaches releasing, improvisation and composition. She has taught widely in NYC and at various colleges throughout the U.S., and internationally at The International Summer School of Dance in Tokyo, Japan; The Performance Space in Sydney, Australia; Chisenhale Dance Space in London, England; Center for New Dance Development in Arnhem, Holland; Festival de Danza Post Moderna in Caracas, Venezuela; Acarte in Lisbon, Portugal; Bagamoyo College of Art in Bagamoyo, Tanzania; and in Havana, Cuba. In Spring 1995, she co-taught a course with Laura Schere at Carleton College in MN entitled "Moving Queer Bodies - power, performance and cultural re-alignment." This course combined cultural studies and queer theory with dance history and contemporary approaches to performance and political strategies.