Kelly Bond is a director, choreographer, performer, and teacher based in New Orleans. Her current performance research is on collective nostalgia and is scheduled to premiere as Dancing with Myself (working title) in November 2020 at Tulane University where she is pursuing an MFA in interdisciplinary dance performance. Kelly’s prior work Escapade (2019) is nominated for a 2020 Big Easy Classical Arts Award for Best Choreography of a full-length work. She works regularly with Philadelphia-based theatre artist Mel Krodman with whom she has created experimental dance since 2010. Kelly has served as an adjunct professor of dance at The George Washington University and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She holds an MA in European dance-theatre practice from Laban in London which she attended as a Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholar. She has a BFA in dance performance and a BA in English from the University of Southern Mississippi. Kelly is a mom of two kids and is originally from Mississippi.
You have to feel it to believe it. That phrase has been stuck in my mind for months*, and it’s at the forefront of my thoughts as I try to put my interests and practice as a dance maker and performer into words. I crave feeling. I want to feel. In life, yes! as I watch my kids, practice yoga, or drive through New Orleans. In performance, that desire is directed and anticipating. As audience, I want to laugh at someone’s cleverness. I want the poignancy of this thing alongside that thing to make me cry. I want to feel a connection with a performer by looking in their eyes or witnessing the vulnerability, strength, struggle and flesh of the body. Even in the most abstract moments, I notice my longing for witnessing theirs.
I lean into transformation, and although I know it’s no small ask, I want to be changed by what I witness or how I participate. How is this experience different or the same as my experience of life outside the space and time of this performance? How has my point of view on my experience in the world, or something as simple as the way I greet my neighbor, changed through this work?
And so I make work that strives for these same things. My curiosity about how a work is crafted and the elements that make it so affecting lead me to consider specific tools and strategies that offer to move a person to and through a certain experience and to feel that that experience has been thoroughly thought through for them. The simple tools that have been present in my work from Escapade (2019) all the way back to Franko B killed me (2007) are looking others in the eye (potentially between and among all in the space), close proximity, and discomfort as an offering of self-examination, which might show up in many different ways such as through that eye contact or proximity, or maybe it’s through duration or the specific actions of the performers.
I always want to be fully engaged with a work, whether my own or another’s. For me that means my attention is present in the performance and that I’m following the path of experience set in motion by the artist(s). I realize that my personal practice of presence stems from and shows up both in my experience of making and viewing performance, as well as through my yoga practice. But a practice of presence is a personal one and my hope of full engagement in performance differs somewhat. My hope is that I am compelled, or can compel others, through thoughtful craft to move through an experience together. I want to offer and mingle my joy with the joy of that person, my pain with the pain of that person, my struggle with the struggle of that person. I want us to share the sensations, tastes, smells, sounds of the experience, because these are the things that life is made of.
* Thank you, Faye Driscoll in Thank You For Coming: Space (2019).
Born in Monroe, Louisiana, Christopher Givens has been living and working in his adopted home of New Orleans since 2006. After graduating from the University of New Orleans with a degree in Film Studies, he worked in various art departments during the Hollywood South boom then shifted to construction and service industry work.
With a fellow UNO alum, he started an underground cinema out of a gutted shotgun house known as St Mary Majaks'.
At Tulane University he was a fellow of the Mellon Program for Community Engagement and an MFA student in Technical Direction. He cofounded the Beaubourg School, a tuition-free educational platform, He also performs various roles as technical director, set designer, artistic director, and facilitator.