Glenna Batson has drawn from multiple forms of movement expression for over three decades as catalysts for artistic growth, teaching, and personal development. Issues around embodiment lie at the center of her work, aesthetic, somatic, and scientific.
My foundation as an artist is built on the transparency and mutability of things written on the body. I have been inspired by many global dance and movement traditions as well as Somatic (mind-body) disciplines. To these traditions, I add a rich background in human movement science and embodiment studies. I form a complex mosaic of body literacy, the inscriptions forever providing insight into the cryptic.
My own movement creations are sourced from the textures of everyday contact and intuited from an embodied perspective. I often take cell phone pictures of things like mud, for example, finding its micro-essence a pattern that resonates with somatic existence. Such creations not only are the (t)issue of my own process and aesthetic, but also enable me to teach others to tap the resin of their own muse as source of transformative growth and development. Texture is embedded in every helical twist of my DNA – the felt, palpable, tangible and intangible bodily expressions that emerge from movement exploration. I am nested in the moment of sensory contact that itself becomes an impulse for movement. The art begins in that poised moment when the inner material of my body meets my human skin, a partnering like no other. The cloth, the integument, of these impressions (the corporis fabrica) forms patterns that thread throughout the body and connect the whole. Movement readily locates the body, clarifies its sensory language, forges questions, and engenders the magic and metaphor that live these questions. The transformation from primordial impression to articulate expression is not always seamless. I dance out the answer, often without knowing the question. The process is a dialectical tension — both anabolic and catabolic, between constancy and change, habit and novelty, doing and non-doing, training and improvisation. The product is a new form of transmission of embodied knowledge, a dance, which sometimes plays out as choreography, movement re-education and research, paper art work, or cell phone photography that exposes the edge of the ordinary.
Background & Foreground
In 2003, Glenna established Wellness Partners in the Arts, a studio conceived around the Works Progress Administration concept and celebrating the movement arts in the Downtown Durham (North Carolina) urban renaissance. From 2006 – 2009, Glenna founded and directed The Wise Cracks, an improvisational pickup company of aging performers designed to dispel stereotypes of older women. Between 2011-2013, Glenna performed with the local improvisational group Sscapes with Dancer-Storyteller Jody Cassell, Soundscape artist, Jude Casseday, and Vocalist, Shana Adams (photo by Ronnie Cassell).
Glenna’s current passion lies in exploring the multiple dimensions of body folding across scale. The Human Origami project evolved from movement improvisation, a process which reveals an infinite array of fractal body patterns from folding and unfolding. As a process of transformational consciousness human origami takes many forms. We partner with paper or fabric to create a sensory rich, iterative, immersive environment.
The simplest of materials, like packing paper, can transform into living anatomy.Reflecting on these experiences enriches one’s conceptual knowledge of biology (protein folding and human development), biotensegrity (structural integrity), Somatics (body mind exploration of movement creation) and embodied cognitive neuroscience (choreographic thinking).
In London between March 2013 and November 2014, Glenna collaborated with dancer and multimedia artist Susan Sentler and a group of extraordinary modern dance students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire. The dynamics issuing from improvisation around macro- and micro-folding give rise to fractal topologies of bodily becoming. The coupling of perception and action lies outside conventional boundaries of space-time in the non-linear, non-literal and liminal. This was a journey into memory, motif and meaning. Sentler, now at LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore, archived the work through film, photography and text. Susan’s photo of the dancers is paired here with my image of the Ryoanji Zen Temple garden in Japan (1450 AD).
As a delightful hobby, Glenna enjoys performing in ballroom showcases, shown here in Dec 2015 Magic of Dance at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio, with teacher-partners Dima Stepanenko and Kirill Lebedko.