Dani Cole is a Lenapehoking-based, known today as New York City, Japanese-American movement artist, educator, writer, activist, and arts administrator. She founded the collective Mobilized Voices/MO B I V in 2018 and currently works as a collaborator with jill sigman/thinkdance and ECHOensemble.
Dani’s work centers body politics and the interdisciplinary. With the body as a three dimensional sphere — movement, text, sonic vibration weave together into reflections on what was, what is now, and what imagined spaces exist (and are real) in process. Navigating 15 years of dance training based on white-supremacist ableist thought — that the classical ballet body or hypermobile is the “Dance” body — Dani is in the process of dismantling her role in perpetuating self and systematic harm to her body and collaborator’s bodies. Access is her process, the language she is moving in and towards; her chronically-ill ever-changing vessel is her listening, her knowledge, her trust.
In the past, Dani’s solo and group works have been shared through the 92Y, TADA! Theater, Mana Contemporary, Actor’s Fund Arts Center, Bridge for Dance, Access Theatre, and the Emelin Theatre. Her dance piece, don’t go back. where? received the Alpha Chi award for “most outstanding researched work" while she was a student at Marymount Manhattan College and she was part of the 92Y's Dance Up! next generation of young choreographers. Dani was a 2020 commissioned choreographer and guest teacher at The Steffi Nossen School of Dance. In 2019, she was a Choreographic Resident at Mana Contemporary and in 2018, Dani completed a choreographic residency at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance.
Recently, Dani has shifted away from choreographic orientations to focus on facilitation, shared spaces with co-determination, and a focus on access in process — for her collaborators in M O B I V and the public. She is teaching — embodied writing workshops, yoga for disabled and non-disabled bodies.
Dani has traveled to South Africa to meet with fellow student activists in advocacy for the decolonization of education and has been an ambassador for the Foundation for Holocaust Education Projects since 2009.
Photo by Ezra Goh
ARTIST STATEMENT, JUNE 2020
Throughout my choreographic experiences, I have sourced interest from a variety of sources, including physicality, critical discourse, activist work, and other mediums of art. Recently, I am distinctively curious about embodiment’s ongoing relationships with the world’s structures and systems. I ask how these how these systems can be changed—shifted, softened, stretched, and imploded—by moving bodies and co-authored dialogues.
The work begins in tight spaces of structure and of questions that are rigorous. Early in process, I am not interested in predetermined phrasing or architecture of each choreographic creation. Rather, I engage myself and collaborators in an improvisationally driven navigations of each tight space. With my voice as a guide, we fill a structure until it overflows (or, we suck the air out until it becomes a vacuum of free-floating potential).
My processes unfold with emphasis on multi-faceted reflection. In research, creation, and performance, bodies move, speak, and write. Spoken text becomes a vital component to works. Through movement and speech, body narratives in relation to our questions are re-written, abstracted, and deeply honed. In an attentiveness to spontaneous-making and reflective practice, linearity is confused and coherence is fostered in a collaborative community without pre-determined trajectories.
Improvisational and choreographic practices are intertwined. Preparation lives in each body’s existence—the energy of research, what were tight spaces, and the boundaries of time drives me to development content within the specific (dis)orientation of the present space and community. Although I share focused leadership, I am more deeply influenced by the questioning and interaction of the dancer-collaborators with the content, as well as their inquiries connected to directives. Creation and change-making lives in our listening and active dialogue as we inform, involve, and transcend..