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Vanessa Voskuil: 100 Creatives

Number 74: Vanessa Voskuil

City: Minneapolis

Years spent living in MN: 14 years

It takes a special talent to create a compelling dance piece using mostly volunteers with little or no training, but performance artist, choreographer, and director Vanessa Voskuil did exactly this with "en masse." The captivating performance, which won a City Pages Best Of in 2010, demonstrated how a group of people could meld together into a collective body of flowing movement. The piece is one of many eye-catching, innovative, and experimental productions by Voskuil. Over the years she has collaborated with local companies such as the Stuart Pimsler Dance Company, Catalyst Dances, and Skewed Visions, in addition to co-founding physical theater group Live Action Set. She also recently tackled the challenging world of dance cinema with Overflow, a film created with filmmaker John Koch for the Southern Theater's Dance Film Project 2010.    

Vanessa Voskuil: 100 Creatives
"en masse" photo by Cameron Wittig

Name three things that are inspiring your work right now:

1. Public health and wellness and the experience of community.

2. A search for ways to extend our physical identity and the consciousness of the body.

3. The moment of discovery, when you walk through fear.

Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:

1. My innate curiosity of the precise state of human feeling expressed through movement.

2. Achieving intimacy through the discovery and realization of an idea.

3. I have always been fascinated with the temporal and the ephemeral, such as in each living moment. Movement-based performance embodies these qualities and my desire to work on that level.

What was your last big project?

"En masse" premiered in 2009 at the Southern Theater and was commissioned by the Walker Art Center and the Southern Theater as part of Momentum: New Dance Works. The piece attracted 70+ volunteer participants and was designed and choreographed with the intention to create a something that anyone, regardless of background or barrier, could participate in. An interview by 3 Minute Egg is posted below:

In December 2010, Cinema Revolution Society presented its first annual Minnesota Dance Film Festival (which I am the festival director of) and I premiered my third dance for camera, "Overflow," as a part of Dance Film Project 2010.

Overflow from John Koch on Vimeo.

What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?

Vanessa Voskuil: 100 Creatives
"Overflow" photo by John Koch

In April I will premiere a new solo work that has been commissioned by local composer Zachary Crockett at the Ritz Theater and, as part of my position as Festival Director of the Minnesota Dance Film Festival, I will be traveling this summer to Europe to tour dance film festivals.

What has been your creative/career high point (so far)?

It is always the current project that I am working on that is my "high point." But I have certainly learned from and valued my past artistic endeavors as a co-artistic director of Live Action Set and as a performer for various dance companies.

What has been your biggest challenge as a choreographer/performer?

When going into the creative void, I have had to learn how to put my creative projects on a shelf at times in order to attend to other aspects of my life.  

Vanessa Voskuil: 100 Creatives
Photo by John Koch

How has the local scene changed since you began your career?

The development of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts is a significant step towards bringing awareness and accessibility of dance. It says, as a community, that we value this artistic medium.

Do you have a favorite performance venue? Why?

The Southern Theater has been a home for my independent work and for many performances that I have been a part of in the past as a performer. It is an integral part of the dance community as a curated venue.

If your life was a movie, what genre would it be found under? What would it be called?

Independent. Innocence.

Vanessa Voskuil: 100 Creatives
"en masse" photo by Jim Smith


Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.

Past creatives, so far:

100. Jennifer Davis
99. Sean Smuda
98. Chuck U
97. DWITT
96. Amy Rice
95. Kara Hendershot


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