Susan Hefner began performing dance at the age of 16 in concerts of pure improvisation with a diverse community of interactive artists in Birmingham, Alabama, including LaDonna Smith and Davey Williams. She received a BA from Goddard College in Vermont where she studied choreography with Tarin Chaplin. She was invited to join Nikolais Dance Theatre in 1983, and toured worldwide, earning solo roles and serving as the dancers’ union representative.

In 1989, she formed Susan Hefner and Dancers, a non-profit organization committed to inspiring, provoking and educating audiences through dance and performance. Over the years she has created 15 evening-length works, with live, original music, and collaborating playwrights, poets and designers.

Her work often grows from visual wit and ironic images, intended to deliver an irreverent message of freedom while lampooning societal rigidities. Zany images are brought to life through a feminist lens, and the dance language is drawn from physical manifestations of human emotions. Through a process of improvisation and revision she seeks a range of authentic expression, human and vulnerable.

With composer/percussionist Michael Evans, the alchemy of living and creating together produced another hybrid altogether. Creating duets as two equally visible interacting characters (MESH), they pushed each other’s theatrical boundaries. Michael enlarged and abstracted the natural movements of a musician in space while Susan’s fractured dancing resulted in sound-making. The instruments become symbols, sculpture, and objects of theater: barriers, islands, quagmires, garments, and tender gifts.

Not afraid of self-ridicule, Susan has given birth to a mop as a young bride; used a third arm as a model’s latest fashion statement; and served the planet earth as a main course at a lavish feast. Susan addresses the major issues we are facing as a species and culture, sharing our foibles as human beings with irony, laughter and grief.

Video by MESH

Round Square and Other Works draws from recent performance structures, but uses the architecture and contents of the artists’ kitchen, bedroom, basement and living room to move from the mundane to the realm of wild imaginings. A metal dryer back becomes a fashion statement; washing machine guts double as drum and mask; untamable spoons and forks clatter out of control; metal siding elongates wobbly arms, making thunder. The sound was recorded live in action; absurd Foley sound by Michael adorns the 3rd and final piece. Videographer Nelson Simon is also a guest performer.

See trailer here:

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