Olivia Kissel: Artist Statement
Wanderlust and inquiry (and a little bit of Punk Rock DIY attitude) fuel my work as a dancer, choreographer, and physical director. I am drawn to ethnic and underground dance forms because they feel authentic and malleable. As a result, I have spent my career exploring the boundaries of urban, folk and classical dance forms, then (respectfully) deconstructing them to create a “hybrid” dance language that emerges between the worlds.
My receptivity, inquiry and unique movement language became cultural currency that opened doors for me, giving me an entry point into new and exotic social groups and cultures. It broke down my “otherness” and allowed me to be accepted into foreign groups, which then fueled further experiences with new and unusual dance forms. I have danced around the world from sticky bars to living rooms; from town squares to rooftops: from small cabarets to national theaters. The concrete experiences that I’ve acquired through dance have lead to deeper relationships with people. These relationships and experiences have given me endless inspiration for my work.
These transnational experiences are the heart and soul of my work. I weave elements of folkloric, urban and classical dance, with textiles, light and music that are inspired by moments of joy and tragedy shared with others in my dance travels. I pull ideas from many points on the compass of social, sacred, folk, and performance art, and the environments in which these dance forms flourish including (but not limited to) the music dance and expression of: Russian Gypsy; American and European Vaudeville and Cabaret; Romani (Gypsy), Balkan, Turkish, Egyptian, Greek Rembetika and Punk.
In the end, I strive to use my personal “hybrid” dance style to create concept-driven work with passionate expression. I marry my interest in raw and unique “underground” performance art with the conceptual potential of the “classical” performance world to create a language that captures a sense of the exotic, while evoking universal resonance. The result is performances that are transcendent for both the audience and the dancers, bridging the space between I and WE; THEM and US.