Glenna Batson, PT, ScD, MA, has drawn from multiple forms of movement expression for over three decades as catalysts for artistic growth, teaching, and personal development. Devoted to a synthesis of the art and science of movement, dance is the centerpiece of her work, aesthetic, somatic, and scientific. Glenna was an East-West Center grantee in ethnic dance at the University of Hawaii (1970-72), and studied Bharata Natyam with Krishna Rao and Chandrabhaga Devi in Bangalore, India, and extensive studies in Javanese classical dance at Mills College. She obtained her M.A. in Dance Education from Columbia University Teachers College (1978). Dance continues to inform all aspects of her teaching, coaching and research.
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 everyday experience and intuited from all my relationships. 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 celebrating the movement arts in the Downtown Durham renaissance. In 2006, 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). Regardless of having fractured her kneecap in a traumatic fall in May 2013, Glenna hosted a performance in June at the Halle Arts Center in Apex, NC, called The Space Between.
Glenna’s current passion lies in exploring the multiple dimensions of body folding across scale. Her Human Origami project emerged from the fractal images made out of fashion magazine paper, as well out of structured movement improvisation that would reveal an infinite array of patterns of body movement – folding, enfolding and unfolding through time. Glenna teaches improvisation in bodily folding as a moving vehicle for transformational consciousness. The movement environment is sensory-rich, iterative and immersive, allowing dancers to create a seamless through line between embodied attention and performative intention. Reflecting on these movement experiences enriches one’s conceptual knowledge of biology (protein folding and human development), biotensegrity (structural integrity), Somatics (sensory-privileged movement exploration) and embodied cognitive neuroscience (choreographic thinking).
Glenna led a human origami session on March 27th at the Carrack Gallery in Downtown Durham. Here, fabric became the folding scaffold within which the human body finds a new skin. Judy Casseday provided a luscious Soundscape custom created for the event
In this process, exploration of macro- and micro-folding dynamics give rise to fractal topologies of 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.
More events to follow!!
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. Sentler archived the work through film, photography and text. Susan’s photo of the dancers is paired here with an image of the Ryoanji Zen Temple garden in Japan (1450 AD).
Glenna also shares a passion for ballroom dance and often enters into showcases at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio