Category Archives: Collaborations




Photos by Calista Lyon and Video by Andrew Ina


Created by Katie Coughlin:

“A sifter keeps the flour light, even as it accidentally sprinkles the surface of a countertop. It always leaves behind a dusting of its own existence. As a teenager, there were constantly clothes to take off the line. We had, at one point, 3 clotheslines reaching out from the windows to the telephone pole tucked away in the left corner of our backyard. The reaching of arms out the window as our legs anchored us inside was a brutal test of our ability to balance and stretch. Our body became a part of this apparatus-as it often does when we complete physical tasks; our joints propel us forward while shoulders and hips and heads bear weight and get worked. When our bodies become mechanisms, where does the boundary lie? Is the edge of our body the tip of our finger or is it the ends of the bristles of the broom as we sweep the floor? The elements in my work originated from specific remembrances – often involving a task being completed while the rest of a household moved around it. These objects reference specific fragments of familiar gestures. Harnessing traces of these memories, I seek to challenge notions of recognized movement and undertakings. The transformation from a remembered visual to a physical instrument enlarges an aspect of self, marking an extension of identity.”

Garden of Constants

This project was initiated by Kathryn Holt through the Council of Graduate Students/Arts and Culture department. CGS has been encouraging departments of performing arts to produce pop-up performances around the OSU campus.

Because of my interest in site-specific works at places where interesting architecture intersect with human activities, I chose the Garden of Constants sculptures as the location.

The artist, Barbra Grygutis,  created outdoor structures  in “public spaces that enhance the built environment, enable civic interaction, and reveal unspoken relationships between nature and humanity.” Furthermore, her purpose was to identify “themes meaningful to each specific sites and community.” Dance fits perfectly within the language that Barbra has used to describe her art in public spaces: dance humans moving through designed spaces, interacting with their environment and each other.

To make this process more personal and meaningful for the dancers involved, I asked them to write down all the numbers that resemble a special event. For example; their parent’s birthday, their anniversary date, the date they adopted a dog, they date they moved to a new place, etc. We then read our numbers out loud and similar to bingo, circled the ones that are close to the read number. So we ended up with a list of our personal numbers and the stories behind them as well as a list of shared numbers.

I find it very interesting when text is incorporated in abstract and structured improvisation. During rehearsal, I noticed how adding voice effects our engagement with movements. It was certainly an anchoring point of this performance.

The Improvisation Structure heavily relied on the music – and in this case, our live musician Yuji Jones. The sections shift as the music begins or ends. But the beginnings and endings of each section is smoothed out: ever so slightly stretching the time in which change happens.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the making process and performing inside it. I was lucky to be surrounded by talented improvisers. It certainly is an invaluable skill to be able to jump into a structure improvisation with an articulate body.





Tanhaayi (Loneliness)

Tanhaayi (Loneliness) 2017
Dancer and Editor: Bita Bell
Painter: Oldooz Robatian

On a cloudy December day, I met painter and makeup artist Oldooz Robatian at her apartment in Tehran. She and I spent a full day together talking about our personal lives as female Iranian artists and discussing Iranian politics. Our ideas connected and we decided to collaborate on a project together, on that very day.

At the time, Oldooz was working on a large scale painting project ‘Loneliness’. For both of us, loneliness meant more than just being alone. It resonated with how isolated we feel practicing our full identities as women and artists in Iran: Oldooz not being able to exhibit her political paintings and showcase her fashion designs, and me not being able to dance publically.

Through dance improvisation, I embodied our personal narratives and our discussion of Iranian politics together with the visual sensations from Oldooz’s paintings. I took some layers off and exposed my skin to express the vulnerable feelings we were both experiencing.

We tried to extend our collaboration after, but due to the distance it became very difficult. This short film became a documentation of reconstructing the movements, feelings, mood, and ideas that evolved on that day.


Our project shifted from a performative solo creation to visualization of a research process.

Documentation of dance improvisation, and even more the recreation of it, is extremely difficult. Dance is ephemeral and improvisation is often times forgotten. I wanted to keep the sensations alive in the visualization of the recreation of my improvisation.

My solo in the video was filmed within a small place, similar in the dimension of Oldooz’s apartment in Tehran –where we collaborated. When I was dancing, the painting was not physically present in any form, but rather I was relying on my memory of it. In the editing process, I layered the painting in real life proportions and adjusted the foreground and background in a way that it seemed as though I am in front of the painting. However, at times I merge into the painting, as if we are one. This visualization speaks to my experience investigating my improvisation without the painting present and the sensations of my memory staying active.

Transient Passage through Varied Ambiances

disclaimer: all text is from the writing of my fellow MFA peer Katherine Moore. Follow and read more here: 

“Our goal” for this process “has been to research the affective relationship between the body and its environment through sensory-based improvisation and collaborative dance making processes.”

“The result of a semester-long process involving outdoor improvisations and collaborative making strategies,  this work-in-progress explored sensation, memory, and embodied modes of trace-making in relationship to place.”

“Simply by taking an improvisatory process out of the studio and into an outdoor setting, what sensations, emotions, and perceptions could be heightened in the body? How can we intuitively respond to the elements of space in the same way that dancers often intuitively respond to each other in improvisation? Is it possible to truly embody our perceptions of space?  And then, how do we capture those sensations as generative material for choreography?”

“As in any creative process, things shifted over time. Certain aspects came into focus while others faded away, much in the same way that vision functions in large spaces: As details enter the foreground, certain elements become background, and then vice versa. Over time, a few central themes began to emerge:

  • Relief (as in relief sculpture)
  • Foreground/background
  • The attention of leaving (when to depart, how to move on)
  • Circularity of space
  • The physicality of dancing with no ceiling
  • The group dynamic against the individual desires
  • Memory as a physical sensation”

“Because my work is a bit abstract, I tried with this process to find some anchor points for my audience, mostly through the sound design and through the involvement of our written and drawn reflection in the final work. Working with my sound designer, Bita Bell, I wanted a sound score that reflected some of our outdoor experiences through found sound, while also providing some energetic support and momentum.”


“I love the way in which the tracks convey a sense of time. The returning theme of almost clock-like beeps and clicks against the more expansive melodic line brings some aspect of what we experienced outdoors into the studio. It references an oscillation between detail and more general impressions, between individual moments and duration. This is much like the experience of an improvisation, and also of taking in a landscape. Again, certain elements come into focus, while others fill a backdrop.”

Continue reading here:

Intermedia Studies

Intermedia is a collaborative space where people interact, explore, investigate, and experience multiple sensations rising from various mediums.

After hearing my classmates’s statement of how they define Intermedia, I felt that my definition of it was very direct and somewhat restricted. So I composed a text that has the rhythm and sensations of how I imagine intermedia:

There is a room
But it’s not a usual room
It transforms
and you

There is a room
But it’s not a usual room
You hear things you haven’t heard before
and see things you haven’t seen before
and feel things you haven’t felt before
and do things you haven’t done before

There is a room
but it’s not a usual room
Some things are unfamiliar and strange
like a dream
like seeing through
a kaleidoscope
like staring at
a cubist painting

There is a room
But it’s not a usual room
You hear things you have heard before
and see things you have seen before
and feel things you have felt before
and do things you have done before

There is a room
but it’s not a usual room
because you have been there before
it all feels real
Because you are there
in the moment

In this room
the unusual room
you can
and be


Our last group study was based on my idea of “a dinner gathering.” I wished to bring a sense of casualness, familiarity and interpersonal activity into the intermedia room.
As always we threw in lots of ideas and felt overwhelmed with all the possibilities we have – that is of course the nature of intermedia: open-ended possibilities that are only limited by our imagination!!

Slowly we put little pieces together. We wanted to create a togetherness feeling and then disrupt it by using our phones to detach and be distracted. Because the use of phones and how it is affecting our lives is so complex and filled with pros and cons, we wanted to make sure that the complexity is reflected. That is why, we decided to use our phones to record the audience’s little dance (documentation) and play it back through a projected recording camera (memories). This balanced the way we disconnected from the audience with our phones with how our recorded visuals are sentimental.

you can watch the video of our performance below:

These are a few things that were said as feedback and comments:

Scripted | Awkward | Hyper\Real –> Fake Food | A Through line | Involving | Interactive | “Bone Apple Teeth” (Possible title!) | Flow | Gestures | Distant | Changing Perspective | Signifiers | Passing of the time through visuals on the table | normal to be on your phone that could have left unnoticed for audience | belonging | fun


In my Hopes and Expectation post before the class began I had written that I hope to get to collaborate. The highlight of this class for me was all the skills I accumulated in a collaboration: from structure, to dynamics, to ideation and process. I learnt how to communicate my ideas better and how to switch between being a leader and a follower. Intermedia is also inter-ideas: as in, the presence of having different backgrounds and voices in the room is important to create a multifaceted product.
With that being said, half way through the semester we realized that we have been mostly learning from Euro-centric and white makers. We had a crucial discussion about diversity and race. After we all contributed a list of artists whom their demographic is underrepresented in the Arts.

Some of my favorites were:
Jode Soloman: She is brave, courageous, and incredibly artistic. She too emphasized the importance of collaboration in making a diverse work.

I have studied a few works of Ralph Lemon and he never stops to amaze me! His juxtaposition of rich and layered movement with other materials is incredibly thought-provoking.

I was lucky to see Akram Khaan’s DESH in Hong Kong. It was the first contemporary and mixed media dance theatre performances I had ever seen then. It was a reason that I  committed my career to dance-making. Akram infuses his Bangladeshi upbringing in the UK but his story remains interpersonal: about home, tradition, being second-generation, being easter in the west, etc. I never forget the scene where there was see through screen with animation projected on it and Akram was dancing and interacting with it behind. It was mesmerizing!

I contributed a list of Iranian visual artists, some of whom work on digital materials too:
Shirin Neshat, Laleh Mehran, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfamian, Mehdi Ghadyanloo. 



Intermedia Compositions

As a class we shared what Intermedia means to us, in a few words like:
“Connections, immersive, sensory, imaginative, siborg, collaboration, something about light, something about layers, virtual, reality, expanded space, changing ideas about space and time, inclusive and almost timelss, innovative, containes multitudes, new forms of reality, where man meets machine, “the medium is the message,” toybox, AI, furutism, digital frontier, building (comma) Creation (comma) (comma) information.”

To me Intermedia compasses all of the above. But most importantly I find it to be enhancive of people’s sensations: visual, aural, kinesthetic at times, and definitely physical. I say definitely physical because I feel that moving images in an intimate space create a sense of embodiment in audience’s experience.

The first project we collaborated was surrounding the theme of representation. Representation is a very complex and complicated era of performance theory, and even more so when it is mediated or at times transformed through technology. I am looking forward to grapple with and discover more questions regarding this topic.

In our first study, I was programming the interactive media software Isadora. (you can see a screen shot of a patch example below!) I am finding this program to be an incredible resource for making interactive experiences. I want to become stronger in programming Isadora software and explore different ways in which it can be implemented.

Patch Screen shot

We played with overlaid and digitally manipulated textures. It sort of became “about” elements; Air, Water, Soil, Steel, Fire. Our collaboration flowed easily and our group dynamic was strong. We were creative, responsive, and responsible.

After our showing our audience shared with what they noticed: soothing, contrast, flow, rolling, cozy, floating, contesting, magic, illusion, visually gorgeous, activation of the space, strong design, and scene oriented.

We chatted for a few minutes about the choice to watch people moving live and/or on screen. It is an interesting dialogue between live human performance in real space and live human performance manipulated and watched on screen.


Our collaborative group just began working on generating movement from found and gathered textures. Below is a short film of what we have been exploring and playing with.


It has been a great opportunity and privilege to collaborate with an extremely talented and creative team. I have realized that I greatly enjoy and benefit from a collaborative process both in improving artistic ways and developing personal skills. I wish to continue expanding my learning in this way of making. I hope to be able to do more collaboration outside the scope of this class.


Reflections on class viewings:

FASE, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Steve Reich, 1982. 

Two dancers lit from different angles to create three shadows behind them on a screen. The shadows multiply the performers to 5 and enlarge the volume of activities. My favorite thing about it is how the shadow in the middle is made out of both performers’ shadows. Their dancing is so synchronized that the eyes can barely keep the two shadows apart. It is as if they have merged and become one performer. I have studied Steve Reich’s Piano Phase during my music degree education. The way it works is that one pianist starts playing a repetitive short phrase and after a few repeats the second pianist enters with another repetitive phrase. One pianist ever so slightly speaks up, so that the other pianist will behind one note. This change of speed results in creating different overlaying pattern. This websites visualizes this process: Similarly, the choreography has repetitive patterns and when one dancer speeds up the overlaying shadows merge differently. Together, the music and the choreography  manipulate the visuals on the wall, disrupting our expectations in the repetitive pattern.  


Veronique, Jerome Bel, 2005.

It is unique enough to have one ballerina stand in a quotidian way on the grand stage of Opera de Paris, let alone for her to speak about her life and vulnerable experiences. Ballet is traditionally a presentational performance during which the dancers entertain the audience, most often by not being themselves (for example as other characters). Here, we get to know Veronique. We also get to empathize with her movement by hearing her fast breathing. The use of audio as a technological medium here is not only the most significant but also essential. Veronique’s voice is as much part of this solo performance as her dancing.  

FAR, Random Dance, Wayne McGregor 

It is difficult to get a sense of the entire piece because of the way that the excerpt is edited. What I see: curves, skin, contacts, partnering, give and take, push and pull, relationships, exhilarating, angular, snapshots, lines, silhouette, speed. The LED lights in the back add to these elements by amplifying or diminishing the dancers’ movements. Again, it was hard for me to get a feel of its flow, but knowing a little about McGregor it must be intense, physical, and fast. Similar to the function of LEDs.   

I had already watched McGregor’s Ted talk before (I am actually quite a fan of him!). However, this time I noticed his language about the body. He mentioned “technology of the body” and referred to the body as “the most technologically literate thing that we have.” He said that making a dance is like “physical thinking” and having a “kinesthetic intelligence.” He quickly chose a “dance stimuli”, in order to come up with movement. This way of thinking, made him become very quick in decision making, thinking, moving, and creating, almost as fast as technology works!  

It is always great to watch videos I’ve seen before after a year and a half of graduate school!! I find it super problematic that McGregor called his dancers “architectural objects…what they are; just pure lines…no longer people…objects to think with.” Is it because when he switches to “physical thinking” and imagining bodies as technologies, he fails to recognize his dancers as people and subjects with agency?