Excerpts from the Curatorial Journal: Morgan Thorson's "Still Life" Aug 1, 2019
Curatorial Program Note
Morgan Thorson creates original dance works that combine movement, light, sound, and objects while taking into consideration a number of key factors, including the site of the work, how the body is presented to the audience, and the history of the field of dace. Thorson combines these considerations into a fully realized choreographic work with intense physicality and subtle visual gestures.
I first saw Still Life when it was presented at Time Based Art Festival in Portland through a collaboration with the Portland Museum of Art. This work was created for a white-walled gallery, and uses time as both a subject and practice to process larger ideas of loss, killing, and extinction. Thorson structured Still Life as a dance/time cycle that explores the death of choreography through the decay of material (light, images on the wall of flora and fauna, gestures). The piece has a five-hour cycle and the dancers explore each day what it means to create choreography through erasing gestures with each repetition.
As an audience member your experience will be charged because of your proximity to the dancers/performers. The room is the stage and you become part of the piece by standing, sitting, and watching. This is the aspect of contemporary dance that as a curator I’m most excited about, how the artwork and the audience interact with one another, how they respond to each other’s presence, and in performance this becomes clear.
Still Life is for both dance and visual art audiences to experience Thorson’s take on time, as we think about animal and plant extinction, as well as the limitations of our physical presence on the planet. Additionally, the viewer experiences the indeterminate relationships of light, movement, and sound. As each five-hour cycle unfolds, the performers are physically present and emotionally charge the space, and simultaneously you can feel their individual bodies perform anxiety with each repetition and loss of gestural material. Still Life offers a space for contemplation, a way to process the violence of the present moment, and creates a long-form choreographic score that investigates dance as a living and dying thing.
Image: Dancers in rehearsal for Still Life. Photo by Rachel Cook.