With a background originally in theatre, Linda Austin began making performance and dance in 1983, when her first piece was presented at the Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church. As an active participant in the downtown New York dance and performance community until 1998, Austin presented work at Performance Space 122, the Danspace Project, the Kitchen, and Movement Research at Judson Church. From 1992 to 1994 she lived and made work in Mexico, returning in Mexico City in 1998 for a two-month residency sponsored by Movement Research and funded by the U.S./Mexico Culture Fund.
In 1998, needing a more expansive and stable environment for the creation of work, Austin moved to Portland, Oregon, bought a small church which became her studio and, with lighting designer Jeff Forbes, founded the performing arts non-profit Performance Works Northwest. PWNW serves as parent organization for Linda Austin Dance as well as the catalyst for other projects such as a 2002 residency and commissioning project with New York-based choreographer Sally Silvers.
In the Northwest, Austin has performed in Northwest New Works at both On the Boards and as part of PICA’s TBA Festival; as well as at Velocity (Seattle), Conduit. the Echo Theatre, for Mike Barber’s Ten Tiny Dances and at her home studio, Performance Works NorthWest.
—August 2004, participation in a pilot project of theRegional Dance Development Initiative (National Dance Project/NEFA) in Seattle.
— 2005, with colleague Tahni Holt, participation in Deborah Hay’s Solo Performance Commissioning Project in Findhorn, Scotland.
— 2006, Austin and Holt’s premiere of their adaptations of Hay’s Room at the 2006 TBA Festival in Portland, followed by performances at Reed College and the Fuse box Festival in Austin, TX.
—August 2008, creation of a site-specific piece for Portland’s Lovejoy Fountain as part of an homage to Anna and Lawrence Halprin called City Dance, a project of Third Angle Music, led by Linda K. Johnson, Ron Blessinger and Randy Gragg.
—With Seth Nehil, the creation of an ensemble movement/sound/video piece called Bandage a Knife, which premiered in November 2009 at PWNW.
—Paired Spectacular, a two part piece, conceived as response to learning and practicing the pioneering work of Deborah Hay & Yvonne Rainer, June 2010 at PWNW.
Supporters of Austin’s work have included the Oregon Arts Commission, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundataion, The New York Foundation for the Arts, Movement Research, the U.S./Mexico Cultural Fund, Oregon’s Regional Arts & Culture Council and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Her writing has appeared in The Movement Research Performance Journal, Tierra Adentro (Mexico), the literary journal FO A RM and a 2003 collection from MIT Press, Women, Art & Technology.
The puzzle of the human body’s awkward, lyrical and often accidental beauty form the grounds of my work. Although the outward form of the work shifts—from solo to group, from improvised to choreographed—the investigation of movement and the expressive possibilities of the body remain the starting point. Beginning with detailed attention to the intricate geography of my body, I open up to unusual juxtapositions with other bodies, with the sound score, and with physical objects, creating works that are multi-layered and laced with both humor and poignancy.
My work often reveals the latent life of objects and the thing-ness of humans: a bewigged houseplant starts laughing when its hairpiece is plucked off; and the body, a pair of boxing gloves and two small stones are picked up by the stage manager and placed in line to form a final tableaux. The interaction of film and video with the actions of the performers onstage has been another fascination, and throughout my artistic trajectory I have remained committed to developing collaborative relationships with composers who contribute original music to my work.