Meg Stuart (b. 1965)
Meg Stuart, born in New Orleans, is an American choreographer and dancer who lives and works in Berlin and Brussels. The daughter of theatre directors, she began dancing and acting at an early age in California and regularly performed in her parents’ productions and those made by family friends. She made her first dance studies as a teenager focusing on simple movement actions. Stuart decided to move to New York in 1983 and studied dance at New York University. She continued her training at Movement Research where she explored numerous release techniques and was actively involved in the downtown New York dance scene.
Invited to perform at the Klapstuk festival in Leuven in 1991, she created her first evening-length piece, Disfigure Study. In this choreography, Stuart approaches the body as a vulnerable physical entity that can be deconstructed, distorted or displaced but still resonates and has meaning. Her subsequent piece, No Longer Readymade (1993), toured extensively and launched her artistic career in Europe. Interested in devising her own structure through which to develop artistic projects, Stuart founded Damaged Goods in Brussels in 1994. Together they have worked on over thirty productions, ranging from solos such as XXX for Arlene and Colleagues (1995), Soft Wear (2000) and the evening-length solo Hunter (2014) to large-scale choreographies such as Visitors Only (2003), Built to Last (2012) and UNTIL OUR HEARTS STOP (2015). Other projects include video works, installations and site-specific creations, of which Projecting [Space[ (2017), is the most recent.
Improvisation is an important part of Meg Stuart’s practice. She has initiated several improvisation projects such as Crash Landing and Auf den Tisch!. In 2016 Stuart hosted City Lights – a continuous gathering in the Berlin HAU Hebbel am Ufer, in collaboration with an all female group of local artists. Through improvisation, Stuart explores physical and emotional states or the memories of them. Her artistic work is analogous to a constantly shifting identity. It constantly redefines itself while searching for new presentation contexts and territories for dance.
Stuart strives to develop a new language for every piece in collaboration with artists from different creative disciplines and navigates the tension between dance and theatre. Previous collaborations include works developed with visual artists Gary Hill and Ann Hamilton, and composers such as Hahn Rowe and Brendan Dougherty. Residencies with Schauspielhaus Zürich (2000-2004) and Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin (2005-2010) led to collaborations with Stefan Pucher, Christoph Marthaler and Frank Castorf. Stuart developed her most recent creation, Celestial Sorrow (2018), in collaboration with the Indonesian visual artist Jompet Kuswidananto.
Alongside her work as a choreographer, Stuart regularly teaches workshops and master classes at dance schools, festivals and institutions. In the book Are we here yet? (2nd edition, 2013), she reflects on her practice in conversation with editor Jeroen Peeters and describes the exercises, tasks and narratives that she uses in workshops and the creative process.
Her work has travelled the international theatre circuit and has also been presented at Documenta X in Kassel (1997), at Manifesta7 in Bolzano (2008) and at PERFORMA09 in New York. In 2008, Meg Stuart received a Bessie Award (New York) for her oeuvre and a Flemish Culture Award in the category of the Performing Arts. The Akademie der Künste (Berlin) awarded Meg Stuart the Konrad-Wolf-Preis in 2012. Tanz Magazine honored her as Choreographer of the Year 2014. In that same year Stuart was honored with the Grand Prix de la Danse de Montréal. In 2018, La Biennale di Venezia awarded her the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in the category of dance.
Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods has an on-going collaboration with Kaaitheater in Brussels and HAU Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin.