DanceForce Member: Kim Engel
Artists: Michelle Y. Lee (visual artist) , Kris Seto (choreographer/dancer)
Community Partners: UAlbany Art Museum; UAlbany Performing Arts Center
The University Art Museum and UAlbany Performing Arts Center, both based at the University at Albany, collaborated to bring movement artist Kris Seto to campus for a residency which included workshops and a commissioned solo performance work. Seto’s movement background includes traditional Thai & Chinese folk dances and hip-hop/street jazz with influences from contemporary forms including Gaga, Butoh and wiggling. Since 2014, Seto has been creating work with VESSELS, a dance-theatre collective co-founded with longtime collaborator Shoey Sun.
Artistically, the project was led by Seto with interdisciplinary visual artist Michelle Y. Lee whose commissioned works were on display in the University Art Museum’s Well/Being: An Exhibition on Healing and Repair exploring topics of kinship, reparations, disability justice, chronic illness, convalescence, sleep deprivation, the emotional costs of caregiving and various incarnations of love and community. The artistic team was rounded out with Jayson P. Smith (creative & movement consultant) and OHYUNG (composer & sound designer.) It was mainly administered by Museum staff along with support from Performing Arts Center staff.
Inspired by Lee’s commissioned works for the museum exhibit (neon works serving as a memorial to the six Asian women killed in Atlanta in March), Seto created “The Tip of the Tongue” self-described as “part memoir, part movement monument to those who have come before.” For Seto, the work explored the question of: “What does the weight of the model minority myth and our intersecting systems feel like on the body?” Developed in the Museum from August to its premiere on December 2, it was a three-month investigation of the interiority of survival, adaptability, susceptibility and resilience.
In connection to the exhibit, Seto offered three movement workshops in the residency’s final weeks. Attended by students, faculty, staff and occasional visitors to campus, the workshops were of two varieties:
Museum Meditations – November 16 & 17
Seto led participants on a gentle guided movement through the first floor of the exhibit.
New Asian Futures: A Diasporic Dance + Dialogue Workshop – November 16
Specifically for Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) and mixed-race participants, Seto offered a workshop seeking to unearth embodiment, expand capacities and deepen a sense of belonging.
In addition, Seto offered a work-in-progress showing and Q&A on November 17 for students taking a first-year experience course entitled Why Museums?
In 2015-16, the two UAlbany entities jointly hosted visual artists/choreographers Gerard & Kelly in a NYS DanceForce sponsored residency that spanned two months and included lectures, workshops, performances and an exhibition. Based on its overwhelming success, the two hosts had been looking for an opportunity to collaborate again in a similar way. This project helped them realize that goal.
Following the residency, Seto wrote, “What an honor, blessing and joy to be a part of the Well/Being show. The space, the art, the staff were all so generous and nourishing. Spending solo time at the museum moving, exploring, and creating with all of the artist’s works and ideas surrounding me was so special, generative, and a privilege I won’t forget.”