Dr Carol Brown


Carol Brown is an award-winning choreographer of contemporary dance, a writer, teacher and Artistic Director of Carol Brown Dances. Her work is research-led and collaborative; it evolves through intense dialogue and experimentation, in particular with artists and scholars from architecture, music, visual arts and literature. A New Zealander, Carol began her dance training with former Bodenwieser dancer, Shona Dunlop MacTavish in Dunedin and continued her training in New York and London after completing a history honours degree. She has an MA(dist) and a PhD in Dance from the University of Surrey, England. The latter, completed in 1995, was one of the first practice-based PhDs in the UK. In 1997 Carol was made Associate Artist and in 1999 the first woman Choreographer in Residence at the Place Theatre in London. Since this time, she has received numerous awards including, a Jerwood Award for Choreography, an AHRB Research Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts and a NESTA Dream Time.  In 2003 Carol was awarded the Ludwig Forum International Prize for Innovation for The Changing Room. Carol’s choreography opens questions through exploring relationships between spaces and bodies in diverse situations. A process-led focus upon how bodies move with given constraints, often spatially determined, generates a somatic language which is shaped, refined and contested through emergent choreographic scores.  Her productions, through Carol Brown Dances have been presented throughout the world including at the Hermitage Theatre (St Petersburg); Bank Theatre (Philadelphia); Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (Australia); National Theatre (Rome); Te Papa Soundings Theatre (Wellington, New Zealand); Purcell Room (South Bank London); National Theatre of Bulgaria (Sofia); Centre National de la Danse (Paris); Birmingham Hippodrome; Ludwig Forum (Aachen); and the Place Theatre (London). Together with frequent collaborator Dorita Hannah, (Touch Tower, Her Topia and Aarero Stone) Carol is currently developing large-scale place sensitive works, stimulating the civic life of the city with dancing.

2 responses to “Dr Carol Brown

  1. Hello everyone, its been good to read some reflections on creative and research practices and the potential of the Incubator research week. Here are some preliminary thoughts towards out meeting.

    I am interested in how performance, which is about the unruly and dance, which encompasses non-normative movement behaviour come into conversation with scientific vocabularies and ways of knowing. I note that performance has become increasingly diagnostic as our access to ways of looking inside the body have become more accessible through digital technologies. I have recently become interested in contemporary manifestations of the ‘display’ and representation of symptoms through a history of the perturbed body.

    I see the process of creating through movement, as a process of generating a somatic language for the worlding of each work. This relationship to language presumes that the body has a cultural as well as biological history, and that each work generates a genealogy and set of characteristics specific to that history. In some cases this work, particularly where it intersects with the digital terrain of computer generated forms, is also concerned with mutating the morphology of the body through digital means (The Changing Room for instance, involved three dancers inserting their tracked silhouette into a morphing virtual object and manipulating it as a dance partner).

    More recently, genetic algorithms as generative processes for digital scenography and real-time interaction have bought me into contact with digital agents which simulate the behaviours of particles and swarms. Incorporating processes of crystalline formation in Unfolding Tree for SeaUnsea involved a tensile, rotating movement of my core counterpointed by vibratory, shivers of extremities (distal movement).

    As I reflected on the invitation to attend Incubator, I moved towards thinking of the lineage of my practice through a number of thresholds: biology and culture; stillness and movement; psyche and soma; actual and virtual. And searched through my image repertoire of past works to find examples of practice that elucidated some aspect of intensification or crossing within these pairings towards opening connecting conversations. I will bring some images and clips from the repertoire in response to this reflective process. But realize that so much of this work is about a recreation of embodied states through theatrical representation (perhaps with the exception of Shelf Life where I really did encounter the fatigue and exhaustion of a four hour durational performance on a narrow elevated shelf). What excites me about this Incubation is the performative potential of the event beyond the representational frame. How, in effect, the biological might induce the cultural, how the complexity of the physical body can impel the complexity and variability of cultural artefacts and forms. Instead of controlling the body through scripted and encoded operations, allowing its vitality, its rhythms, direction, and forces to lead the choreography. Reading some of your comments to date, I wonder if rhythm is something we all share.

    On a more prosaic note, I have been sleep training my fifteen month old baby over the last 8 days. Being the mother of two small children has brought me much closer to the patterns and disturbances of sleep and the feeling of movement as it takes hold of our waking consciousness.

  2. Yes – I like the idea of rhythm being a denominator here. Heart beats, hormones and headspace. See you soon! Jean

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