How Neurodivergence Informs Elisabeth Motley's Creations
Elisabeth Motley makes rigorously researched, highly experimental work based on her experience with brain disease, a recurring encephalitis. With an undergraduate degree from Juilliard, an MFA in interdisciplinary arts, a Fulbright award, and a PhD in progress in dance practice-as-research, she's made multimedia dances with her eponymous company since 2010. (Disclosure: I am a founding member.) For her current project, Colored Shadow, she takes the stage alone, performing outdoors at sunset June 11–12, through Arts Society of Kingston in upstate New York.
Colored Shadow is such a poetic title!
The poet Tito Mukhopadhyay, who has autism and writes about neurodivergence, wrote "all the time shadows had to borrow the colors of the objects on which they would fall." I use the idea of colored shadow to merge and overlay dance scores, which intertwines with the interdependent compositional process of a rhizome.
A rhizome, like ginger? Underground roots have a compositional process?
Yes! Plants! Rhizomes are connection-makers: Their roots move through the earth laterally and continuously, in a nonhierarchical fashion. They work through collaboration, without a center point. They multiply quickly, sporadically, improvisationally. Rhizomes share. They take in and give out. If one breaks off, it starts off again on a new path. Rhizomes essentially choreograph their own maps in the earth.
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