Susan Marshall (choreographer)

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Susan Marshall (born October 17, 1958) is an American choreographer and dancer. She is the Artistic Director and Choreographer of Susan Marshall & Company which she formed sometime between 1982 and 1983, working initially with dancers Arthur Armijo, David Dorfman, Jackie Goodrich, and David Landis. Marshall has created over thirty dance works throughout her many years working with the company. She is known for incorporating everyday abstract movements, repetition, and variety into her pieces. She encourages her performers to develop a level of intimacy between each other, and between their audiences. She wants the audience to feel an emotional connection to the dancers. Marshall currently holds the role of the director of the Program in Dance at Princeton University's Lewis Center for the Arts, which she assumed in 2009.[1]

Starting at Emanu-El Midtown YM-YWHA and PS 122, Susan Marshall & Company moved to Dance Theater Workshop in New York City for two- and three-week seasons in 1986 and 1987 respectively, during the second one of which her dance Kiss was performed, which remains in repertory with other groups. Kiss is a duet in which a couple is suspended from above the stage via ropes or cables and harnesses. In a dance review for the New York Times (July 19, 1993) Anna Kisselgoff describes the performance as "a duet for a couple whose harness-equipped choreography sends them into space with centrifugal force and finally into a locked aerial embrace."[2]

The company began touring in 1987, and the next year Brooklyn Academy of Music commissioned Interior with Seven Figures for its Next Wave Festival. This would be Marshall's first evening-length work. An association with composer Philip Glass began in 1994 when Marshall used his music for a dance Fields of View, and in 1996 she collaborated with him on his dance-opera Les Enfants Terribles. Fields of View used closeups of photos by Weegee, who took tabloid photographs of New York City crime scenes between the 1940s and 1950s. This was one of the first times Marshall used artistic media in her choreography.[3]

Susan Marshall & Company has performed at the Edinburgh International Festival, the Spoleto Festival, Vienna Tanz, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In addition to her work with her company, Marshall has also created dances for the Lyon Opera Ballet, the Frankfurt Ballet, the Boston Ballet, and Montreal Danse. One of her most popular pieces is entitled "Cloudless" and was described by Hilary Ostlere in "The Financial Times (London, England)" as "... a mysterious piece that has little to do with its title for there are cloud in it, mostly in the form of Deborah Farre's framed projections. The series of 18 swiftly succeeding episodes - each thematically different yet linked choreographically - has been worked out in collaboration with the dancers themselves, who also move the props around. Each piece - Marshall calls them poems - is as different as its music, which ranges from Georges Bizet to Philip Glass." [4]

Marshall used a sense of nostalgia in her work, having been inspired by European spiegeltents of the early 1900s. She transformed her performance space into a tent-like theatre in the round atmosphere. Once the audience enters the theatre, they are automatically transported into the world of Marshall's piece. She wastes no time setting the tone and mood of the performance.[5]

In her artistic statement, Marshall states,

My dances reflect my interest in all kinds of human movement and the way in which much of the information that we share with each other about ourselves in our daily lives is not expressed through words but revealed through subtle gestures and physical communications -- all of which we understand with great speed and emotion. I am fascinated by this world of unacknowledged knowledge that runs parallel to our world of articulated thoughts and actions. It is a world filled with undeniable truths immersed in great mystery...
In making my dances, I often draw directly from movements found in our daily lives: an embrace, a touch, a turn of the head, simple walking and running. This familiar vocabulary has the ability to communicate swiftly and clearly. I am interested in using such movements in their natural form, and not in a stylized way, because I believe that, unadorned, these movements can communicate the depth of our lives.

In 1988 Marshall was an inaugural recipient of the American Choreographer Awards, given by the National Corporate Fund for Dance, and she also won a Brandeis University Creative Arts Award.[3]

In 2000, Marshall was the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" Award.[6]


  1. ^ Jowitt, Deborah. "Susan Marshall Gets Intimate; the veteran choregrapher brings Frame Dances and Adamantine to the Baryshnikov Arts Center." The Village Voice (New York) 8 June 2011, Print.
  2. ^ Kisselgoff, Anna. “Review/ Dance; Susan Marshall Puts Entr’actes Into the Act.” New York Times 19 July 1993: EBSCOhost. Web. 28 Sept. 2011.
  3. ^ a b Marshall, Susan. Current Biography. 1999. Biography Reference Bank. Web. 17 Oct. 2011.
  4. ^ Ostlere,Hilary. "Susan Marshall & Company THE CRITICS." Financial Times (London, England) 13 Mar. 2006, Europe ed. 1, Arts sec.: 8. Print.
  5. ^ Kaufman,Sarah. "Susan Marshall's 'Sawdust Palace,' Where Surreal Dreams of Love Unfold." The Washington Post 11 Apr. 2008, regional ed., Style sec.: C05. Print.
  6. ^ The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. "MacArthur Fellows July 2000". Retrieved 2007-06-02. 

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