Game Changers | Laura Kriefman | Pushing The Boundaries Of Dance And Creativity

by GRIOT - Published on 03/04/2016

Getting to know a super creative person like Laura Kriefman has been very inspiring. Being a performer and a visual artist too, I’ve always been drawn to artists who are consistent with their artistic path, people who can spread a message by pushing the boundaries of the seemingly impossible: Game Changers.

Choreographer and creative technologist, Kriefman is internationally acclaimed for her ability to fuse movement and technology, willing us to reconnect our bodies and our environment.

“We’ve got so many labour-saving devices around these days that our sense of movement in our bodies have completely changed. And so we’re interested in looking at how we can use the technology to change the way we see the world, and liberate our sense of movement again”, she said in an interview.
Game Changers Laura Kriefman Guerilla Dance Project crane dance bristol wired hidden fields
GRIOT: Your work, the Guerilla Dance project, is a very innovative way of trying to restore the contact between the human body and the environment through the fusion of movement and technology. Tell me more about how you got into choreography.

Laura Kriefman: In all honesty: I was lucky enough to have people around me who always took a deep breath and said: “Ok, how ? ” rather than “No”. I started as choreographer for musicals and stage shows but realised there was a big divorce between what people saw happening on stage and their sense of movement in their own bodies. That bothered me. So I created work out on the streets using everyday environments and objects instead.

I was lucky enough to be offered a residency at the incredible Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol to start exploring how we could liberate our use of composition too. That residency was life changing: suddenly I was in this critically supportive and collaborative environment full of people developing everything from citizen space travel to new forms of documentary story-telling. I moved my company to Bristol two years later, and we haven’t looked back since.

Last October you devised and choreographed the Crane Dance, in Bristol, a spectacular performance on the water that blended live music, lights, choirs, rowing boats and choreographed synchronised cranes in a 40 minute impressive show. Where do you draw inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from my collaborators and tiny moments in the world around me that spark hugely ambitious ideas. For Crane Dance Bristol I was inspired by the way the infrastructure of our cities is already dancing for us everyday and amused by the fact that we just don’t often notice.

I absolutely love cranes and am in awe of their mechanics and splendid movement across our city skylines: I wanted to create a piece that celebrated this skill and craftsmanship, and placed the cranes at the centre of our attention.

Game Changers Laura Kriefman Guerilla Dance Project crane dance bristol wired-1
(c) Paul Blakemore
Game Changers Laura Kriefman Guerilla Dance Project crane dance bristol wired
(c) John Rowley

How have you been able to take your interaction with public spaces at this new scale?

My fellowship with WIRED magazine and The Space (Arts Council England and the BBC) was the catalyst. Bristol’s cranes and iconic harbour were my inspiration. My previous Augmented Dance work [the fusion between movement and technology] gave me the tools. My collaborators were the fuel and the 95 people who worked on Crane Dance Bristol made it possible. The construction industry and city-leaders worldwide who have fallen in love with the project are its future.

Are there any particular experiences that affected your personal, professional development?

I joke that I have two professional families: my fellows from the Clore Cultural Leadership Programme and the Pervasive Media Studio residents. The first taught me to have faith in my insight and ideas, the second taught me how to grow. The Pervasive Media Studio encourages you to be “professionally interruptible”: always accessible to help others, and to be helped in return. It’s an absolutely genius principle.

As a child did you ever imagine yourself becoming a game changer, someone who could positively redefine the role of technolgy in our daily life through performing arts?

Haha, nope, no, never: I was just a very over eager child who loved trying new things, and making things move.  I was always a “Jack of all trades”. That breadth of experience has actually been surprisingly crucial for developing a critical mind as I find I’m a real cross-pollinator: taking ideas and questions from one project to another, then another.

What is it like to be an artist today?

Inspiring. We are in a world at the height of a creative and technological revolution: and I find that an intoxicating and heady mix. This brings so many opportunities to keep learning and developing one’s craft. I love that. I feel part of a solution: a future.

Three names of performers, dance companies you like the most?

Oooh… good question! I’m inspired by BirdGang Dance (Hip Hop), Michelle Dorrance (Tap Dance), Royal De Luxe (beautiful spectacles), Arcadia (huge mechanical spiders!) and Elizabeth Streb. But also visual artists like Joanie LeMercier and Grayson Perry.

What projects are your working on now and what future projects should we be looking out for?

It’s turned into a very busy year: which means I get to work with lots of really stimulating collaborators. We’re making cranes dance all over the world over the next two years. And planning a Mass Boat Dance…. as you do: It’s a synchronised dance routine with sail boats, live scored by a symphony orchestra.

We have a new installation called “Slow Into Motion” out later this year that explores hyper slow motion video of movement and a new dance show “Kicking the Mic” touring in the Autumn.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

On a boat: always on a boat.

 – Interview by Nicoletta Grasso

On April 9, 2016, Laura Kriefman is speaking at TEDxROME | Game Changers, Italy

All the images | Courtesy of Laura Kriefman
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