Susan Marshall is a choreographer known for employing modest means to resonant effect. She is an innovator who expanded the formal structures of post-modernism to include everyday gestures and theater experiments. Marshall’s rigorously pared-down vocabularies of movement are finely calibrated into evolving structures. Everyday movement and gesture, distilled to near abstraction, co-exist with full-bodied, athletic movements. Her works use recursive syntax and details of touch, intention, gravity, and gaze to probe the complexities of human behavioral systems and interpersonal relationships. Actions rewind, reposition, and return in performances permeated with negotiations of control, agency, and interdependency. Freedom within constraints, and humor, are constants in Marshall’s work and process. The effect is an abstract theater, where complex architectures of association extend outwards and unfold as story and emotion inside the viewer.
In 2009, Marshall became a professor and the Director of Dance at Princeton. She teaches choreography, the program seminar for rising juniors creating choreographic theses, and co-teaches creation with other artists. This spring, Marshall and her current artistic collaborator, visual artist Martha Friedman, will again offer “Body and Object,” an innovative course on the intersection of sculpture and dance.
Driven by her abiding pleasure in the thinking and problem-solving that occurs between creators with histories in different disciplines, Marshall collaborates with visual artists, scientists and musicians, on large theater productions, gallery installations, films, and direction for opera, marching band and percussion ensemble.
Marshall’s collaboration with neuroscientist Sabine Kastner, engineer Naomi Leonard, and theater historian Brian Herrera—grounded in numerous conversations with members of the neurodiverse community—led to her current project, Rhythm Bath. This performance-installation explores rhythmic entrainment, Interpersonal synchrony, and the potential effect on the nervous system of observing other’s rhythmic movement. As the parent of a son with autism/apraxia and a member of a community of neurodiverse individuals, their families and advocates, Marshall is excited by the increasing access for neurodiverse viewers and participants in the arts community. She is now expanding her ongoing interest in agency and interdependency to examine invitation and exclusion of audience members within contemporary art performances.
Among her many honors, Marshall is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and three New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards. Her dance group Susan Marshall & Company has performed extensively in theaters throughout the United States, Europe and Japan with recent performances in NYC at Brooklyn Academy of Music, and nationally at venues such as the Kennedy Center, the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, and Peak Performances at Montclair State University.
Her work has entered the repertory of major dance companies, including Nederlands Dans Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Major commissions include dances for Lyon Opera Ballet, Ballet Frankfurt, Mikhail Baryshnikov and collaborations with Philip Glass. Thirty years after their creation, her signature works Arms and Kiss are still performed by companies internationally. Marshall’s ongoing impact on the field of dance is recognized in the dance history tomes No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century, and 50 Contemporary Choreographers.
Marshall moved to New York City from her hometown of Hershey, Pennsylvania, to attend The Juilliard School. Recently, she and her family moved from New York City to Princeton, New Jersey.
Susan Marshall & Company's "Green Green Grass"
NEWS + LINKS
Women in Dance: Susan Marshall by Maura Keefe | Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive
Art Net Editors’ Picks: 8 Art Events to See in New York This Week — Oct. 25, 2016
Prototypes — Summer Shares at LaMaMa, June 27-28, 2018
CONSTRUCTION: A Preview Performance at LaMaMa, June 13, 2019
World Premieres for the Digital Stage: Arms by Susan Marshall | Pacific Northwest Ballet, November 12, 2020 (Digital release, streaming Nov. 12-16)