Dani Cole is a Lenapehoking-based (what is known today as NYC) 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. She works closely with Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Sarah A.O. Rosner, and Beau Banks as the Curatorial Associate & Artist Coordinator + Editorial Associate at Gibney.
Dani’s work centers body politics and the interdisciplinary. With the body as a three dimensional sphere — movement, text, and sonic vibration weave together into reflections on what was, what is now, and what is imagined in process. Navigating 15 years of dance training based on western white-supremacist, ableist thought — that the classical ballet body and 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 — listening, dimensional knowledge, trust.
In the past, Dani’s solo and group interdisciplinary 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. Dani was part of the 92Y's Dance Up! next generation of young choreographers. In 2020, she was the commissioned choreographer at The Steffi Nossen School of Dance. In 2018 + 2019, she was a Choreographic Resident at Mana Contemporary, a leading national in-process art museum, and 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 — with her collaborators in M O B I V and the public. She is often teaching — embodied writing workshops, yoga for disabled and non-disabled bodies, and is an educator on guest faculty at various schools and studios.
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
I am curious about embodiment’s ongoing relationships with the world’s perpetuated 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 (anti) work begins in tight spaces of structure and of questions that are rigorous. I am not interested in predetermined phrasing or architecture of what can be called choreographic creations. Rather, I engage myself and collaborators in improvisational navigations of each 'tight space' we are a part of and/or occupy. With the voices of our bodies as our guides, 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 process, 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 Crip time, non-normative time. 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, conformist spaces, and the boundaries of time lend to 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 intertwined with their guidance. Creation and change-making lives in our listening and active dialogue as we inform, involve, and transcend.