Karen Bernard, choreographer and multidisciplinary performance artist, explores the memory of trauma in a new work called Lakeside. Using video, and snippets of found audio woven together into an original score, Bernard layers minimalistic movements with an emotionally fraught sensitivity to draw her audience into a conceptually complex visual field. Bernard plays the roles of victim, witness and murderer, shifting between these roles with subtlety and intentionality to investigate how violence done to women affects us collectively—as a spectacle, an idea, and an experience lived and re-lived in the body. Central in the scene is a costume from her past, a bright yellow and black body suit. The costume is more than an object in the crime scene. It has a personality that has experienced physical terror. Bernard will use her residency at Chashama to further develop an active relationship with her audience, where like the performer who changes roles, their perception will shift between judge, jury and accomplice.
Original material developed with Lisa Parra, dramaturg Andi Villa Stover and digital composer Boris Billier with support from residencies L’Annexe-A and Obras Foundation. Karen Bernard is a project of New Dance Alliance.
About the Artist
Between 1986 and 1998, Karen Bernard presented a series of feminist solos at Dia Center for The Arts and went on to be presented at venues including The Kitchen, Performance Space 122 (Performance Space New York), Danspace at St. Mark’s Church and Dance Theater Workshop (New York Live Arts).
In 2004, she incorporated old video footage, conversational text, and popular music and received critical acclaim for Removed Exposure, which premiered at Dixon Place and went on to the Festival of New Dance in St. John’s, Newfoundland; Women in Transition, a festival in Vienna; then was remounted at Here Arts Center. A handmade book of the same name was co-created with Canadian Bookmaker Gray Fraser.
In 2007, she began to explore the manipulation of small projectors and audio equipment, often on a movable cart seamlessly integrating physicality. She has developed several works where the past and present exist and aging hangs in the balance. These works have received support through residencies that have included space, as well as site-specific performance platforms from the L’Annexe-A, Bogliasco Foundation, White Oak, Emily Harvey Foundation, Brooklyn Studios for Dance, Chashama, The Kitchen Dance in Process, Earthdance, Obras Foundation, Cill Rialaig, and Wassard Elea. Bernard received a BAX 10 award for her invaluable service to artists in the founding and development of (New Dance Alliance) Performance Mix Festival now in its 34th year. She was a 2006 Movement Research Artist-in-Residence.
About New Dance Alliance
Incorporated in 1989, New Dance Alliance (NDA) is an arts service organization whose mission is to actively promote emerging forms of innovative dance, music, video, and interdisciplinary performance. NDA’s initial aims were to support an artistic community that had limited institutional resources, and to provide that community with increased opportunities for sharing experimental works with the public. Today, NDA’s goals remain deeply rooted in those founding principles, and have also expanded in response to current artistic challenges and goals. NDA’s expanded programming includes initiatives that foster national and international artists, and promote increasingly diversified audiences through annual events, retreats, educational panels, and performances. Its four main programs are: Performance Mix Festival; LiftOff: Residency and Workshop; Subsidized Rehearsal Space; and creator and performer, Karen Bernard. Collectively, these programs support the work of more than 100 experimental artists, and bring in 2,500 audience members each year.
Image credit: Lakeside at Foundation Obras, video still by Ludger van der Eerden