Artists I admire: Susan Marshall

For a number of years, I worked as freelance curriculum consultant for Dance Theater Workshop, now known as New York Live Arts. Over the course of about five seasons, I wrote curriculum for their school time performance series, which brought middle school and high school students to Friday morning showings of dance. My curriculum was used by the teachers to help prepare students to see the performances. Even though I don't have formal training as a dancer, the colleague who hired me to do this work, David Sheingold, used to say that contemporary dance had taken on a hybrid form, and its overlap with theatre made me a strong candidate to write about it.

During that time, I wrote about all sorts of projects created by a variety of choreographs. No work struck me as much or as deeply as Susan Marshall & Company's work, Cloudless (2006). I remember seeing the work for the first time and being completely overwhelmed not only by its power and simplicity, but also by its innate theatricality. I saw the power of shining light and directing focus on seemingly pedestrian movements and natural interactions between people. And how a simple abstraction of those movements and interactions could suddenly create a highly theatrical experience. I brought colleagues and students to see the piece when it was remounted, and I'm certain that it's informed many of my pieces that I've created since seeing it. I spent the last week working on a grant narrative for a new project, and images from this work kept flashing into my mind some ten years later. Cloudless is one of the most influential pieces on my art making, and I owe much to Susan Marshall for creating such a beautiful piece of work.

For showing me something amazing about the capacity of everyday movement, for illustrating what I imagine to be the result of a very collaborative creation process, and for continuing to create new work, Susan Marshall is the artist I admire for this week.