sally e. dean – the artist
Sally E. Dean (USA/UK) has been an interdisciplinary performer, performance maker and teacher over 15 years – in university, professional and community settings across Europe, Asia and the USA. Her teaching and performance work is highly informed by somatic-based practices, her cross-cultural projects in Asia and her background in both dance and theatre – integrating site, costume and object. Her work has been supported by the Arts Council England and the British Council.
Sally’s recent performance work is immersive and site-specific. Her work has been produced in venues ranging from established theatres, such as The Place (Robin Howard Dance Theatre), Hackney Empire and Battersea Arts Centre (London), festivals such as Edinburgh Fringe Festival, New York Musical Festival, International MASQUE Theatre Festival (Helsinki, Finland), Prague Fringe Festival, San Francisco Fringe Festival, to site-specific settings such as church crypts, traditional Javanese markets, a post-war junk museum, and gallery spaces.
Sally is a certified teacher of Skinner Releasing Technique, an Amerta Movement practitioner (with Suprapto Suryodarmo from Java), and a British Wheel of Yoga certified Scaravelli teacher. She also has a background in butoh, physical theatre, improvisation and playwriting.
Sally has taught internationally in university, community and festival settings to include Impuls Tanz (Vienna, Austria), Dance Ability Finland, Aalto University (Finland), the National Arts University in Surakarta/Java, Sri Lanka Foundation, CIT Cork School of Music (Ireland) as well as the UK’s leading dance, theatre and costume design universities: Royal Holloway University, Trinity Laban, Central School of Speech and Drama, London College of Fashion, Roehampton University, Chichester University, Coventry University and more. She also teaches ongoing professional classes at Siobhan Davies Dance Studios and Dance Research Studios.
Sally has performed for international companies, organizations and artists such as Stephanie Skura in New York, US (present), Dappin’ Butoh Company/Joan Laage (2001-2002, 2006, 2016) in Seattle, London and Liverpool (UK), the Dance Platform Sri Lanka with Floating Space Theatre Company in Colombo, Sri Lanka (2012), Miroto Dance Company in Java, Indonesia (2007, 2008), David Roberts Art Foundation (with French artist Etienne Chambaud), Colourscape Music Festival with artistic director Jeff Higley, London, UK (2010-2012), London College of Fashion (with choreographer Marie-Gabrielle Rotie 2011), The Welcome Trust and Camden Arts Centre (with artist Serena Korda 2010-2011) and and individual artists such as Sandra Arroniz Lacunza in Pamplona, Spain (2012-2013).
Since 2011, Sally leads the ‘Somatic Movement & Costume Project’ – designing multi-sensorial costumes that create specific body-mind experiences, in collaboration with costume designers, that lead to workshops, performances, films and talks. Her writings about the project have been published in the ‘Dance and Somatic Practices’ Journal (2011, 2015), ‘Scene: Critical Costume’ (2014), ‘Embodied Lives’ book (2015), and forthcoming ‘Studies in Costume and Performance’ Journal (2016). She is an MPhil candidate at Royal Holloway University (Drama/Theatre department).
Sally’s artistic practice seeks to create ‘portals’ for perceptual shifts – in the form of cultural immersion, sensory re-configuration and integration, dis- and re-orientation, collaboration and limitation. The intent is to induce alternative states of ‘being’ and ‘perceiving’ for both performer and audience alike. This approach is highly informed by somatic-based practices and techniques.
Her performances play on the edge of the magical and ritualistic, to the ordinary and mundane. Site, costume, language and physicality collide – creating a highly visceral and sculptural landscape of poetic imagery and dream-like narratives. Each moment evokes a theatrical ‘scene’ heading towards the surreal and absurd.
Sally’s performance work is informed by her eclectic background and training in Amerta Movement (Javanese performer Suprapto Suryodarmo), somatic-based movement (Skinner Releasing Technique™), site-based performance, playwriting, Butoh, and body-based theatre. Her recent two years of living in Java, Indonesia, continue to inspire her artistic process, teaching and performance making. Sally’s artistic work is immersive and site-specific, presented in performance-timed events or as ongoing, live, durational gallery installations. She currently is experimenting with the performance/audience relationship as a ‘gallery type’ dialogue – inviting audience to choose their own time and spatial relationships to the performance work itself.
As a performer, Sally’s immediate and raw intimacy is tucked into explosions of physicality and quiet, subtle, minimal movement. Layers of juxtapositions surface and are toyed with: the grotesque and the beautiful, animate with the inanimate, violent and gentle, public and private.
Currently Sally’s experimental research into ‘somatic costume’ is a means to further challenge perceptual expectations. The aim is to transform habits through costume alongside creating innovative performance work.
Collaboration is Sally’s ethos. Whether interdisciplinary or trans-cultural, Sally is passionate about creating a dialogue and exchange with others as a key to her process. Sally’s artistic practice centers on interdisciplinary collaboration, using a facilitative approach to shared creativity. Examples include long-standing visual/performing arts company Duets for Objects from 2004-2010 and Kemanapun (Java in 2008), an international collaboration and performance between seven female artists of different disciplines.
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