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Writing, Moving and Dancing With Simone Forti

“Thinking with the Body” program features renowned 81-year-old artist

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January 29, 2016 | by Julie Deardorff
Simone Forti
Forti is one of several leading visionaries featured in conjunction with The Block Museum’s Main Gallery Show, “A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s,” the first major exhibition exploring the art and impact of Moorman, a groundbreaking, rule-bending artist, musician and advocate for the experimental art of her time.

EVANSTON, Ill.  -- At 81, renowned experimental dancer, choreographer and writer Simone Forti has no plans to stop moving. In the middle of a Chicago winter, she’ll be directing a weekend-long creative writing and movement workshop that takes students outdoors to the shores of Lake Michigan.

The two-day workshop at Northwestern University culminates at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1, with the free public program, “Thinking with the Body.” The event features a student performance of “Huddle,” Forti’s seminal 1961 work included in Charlotte Moorman’s Avant-Garde Festivals. 

“Thinking with the Body” also includes a conversation with Forti, who will discuss the relationship between dance, language, everyday movement and performance, in an interview with Northwestern’s Amanda Jane Graham, Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies.

The event will be held at The GYM, 640 Lincoln Street in Evanston.

Forti is one of several leading visionaries featured in conjunction with The Block Museum’s Main Gallery Show, “A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s,” the first major exhibition exploring the art and impact of Moorman, a groundbreaking, rule-bending artist, musician and advocate for the experimental art of her time. 

Throughout her career, Forti has explored the potential for dance to serve as an accessible link between thought and language, raising questions such as, “how can we develop a natural and intuitive flow between moving and speaking?”

“Part of what makes ‘Thinking with the Body’ special is how Forti works with improvisation,” said Susy Bielak, associate director of engagement and curator of public practice at Northwestern’s Block Museum of Art. 

“During Monday’s program, students will perform “Huddle” and read writing generated through the weekend workshops. The event is a blend between a lively, multimedia performance and a chance to hear from one of the leading lights of contemporary art,” Bielak said.

Forti’s weekend workshop features an interdisciplinary mix of students from across campus and Chicago, including those majoring in art, journalism, dance, music theory, earth science and mathematics.

 “As I expand and sharpen my own practice, it is a great honor to work directly with her,” said Toby Altman, doctoral candidate in Northwestern’s English department. “I also would like to learn from the way she thinks about the body itself: how she stages it as part of -- and as an intervention in --its environment.” 

Forti’s work has evolved over time, but she has consistently used her body as a form of expression. From her early minimalist “Dance Constructions” through her “Animal Movement Studies” and “Illuminations Studies of Centrifugal Force,” to her “Logomotion News Animations,” she has sought and invented ideas and practices drawing on sources ranging from the news to animal behavior. 

In 2005, Forti received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Dance. In 2011, she was honored with a Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts. In 2014 she had a retrospective show at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg, Austria. 

Parking is available by The GYM and in Northwestern Parking Lots nearby. Allow time for potential construction delays on Sheridan Road. 

The interdisciplinary program is co-sponsored by Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences departments of art history, art theory and practice, the School of Communication’s department of performance studies and dance program; Mellon Dance Studies; and Northwestern’s Poetry & Poetics Colloquium.

Topics: Arts and Events