Project Description

Posted in Uncategorized by Brigid McAuliffe on September 8, 2009


Embody is a multifaceted project and exhibition that uses percussive dance as a vehicle to explore cultural identity, history and empowerment in generations of women. The project includes my own work as well as a youth component, where I will teach workshops to middle school girls related to my process and discoveries. I have been interviewing female dancers who practice Spanish Flamenco, Mexican Folklorico, West African dance, American Jazz Tap and Native American dances (Northern Traditional, Jingle Dress and Fancy Shawl). Although these dances are all very distinct from one another, they have some major points in common. They all utilize the feet as a percussive element, they share certain gender dimensions and they speak to cultural identity and empowerment, history, tradition and change.  While I’m not an ethnographer and am not making ethnographic films in the traditional sense, I am inspired by this method’s sensitivity to the experiences and stories of people. My work focuses on the subjectivities of these dancers. With their help and in collaboration with eight young girls, I portray their stories with both empathetic and aesthetic sensibilities.

I am continuing this project at PlatteForum, an arts organization in Denver, where I am an artist in residence. At PlatteForum eight girls from Clear Lake middle school are joining me in the process. I am leading workshops where we discuss cultural identity, memory and empowerment embodied in dance. I am also sharing my work, inquiries and explorations as we research the dances, brainstorm questions and as I teach some audio/visual techniques. The dancers are participating by coming to PlatteForum and giving the young artists a chance to ask their own questions, film some dancing and also learn some basic steps (and the meaning behind these steps). I am facilitating and documenting this process. The students will make a video or animation work inspired by what they have learned and what they are drawn to. The exhibition will take place at PlatteForum where I will present my work in tandem with my student’s work. My work will be presented as a multi-channel video/audio installation, featuring each woman’s dance and dialogue within a dynamic mix of projected images and sound. The audio will fluctuate between sounds of dancing and the dancer’s voices.

In 2008 I was an artist in residence at el Levante in Rosario, Argentina where I created a documentary and installation expressing the significance of the Tango to a community of dancers in Rosario. Although this was the first time I explored dance through a lens and through participants voices, I have always had a deep interest in the powerful, ephemeral experience of music and dance. I am also interested in the way cultural identity and personal histories are preserved, evolve and become embodied in dance. Where sports and music are often dominated by men, dance is often led by women. Dance is an art form (and sport) where women can find empowerment through expression, physical strength and the discovery of self. Embody is a project that incorporates all of these interests as well as a chance for me to share and create with a future generation of women.

I am currently an MFA candidate in the University of Denver’s Electronic Media Arts Design program. To learn more about my work, my graduate program or PlatteForum, please visit the following websites:



Posted in Uncategorized by Brigid McAuliffe on September 8, 2009


This is a flyer I made as a way of promoting the process as well as the final exhibit.

A Sketch: Flamenco

Posted in Uncategorized by Brigid McAuliffe on September 7, 2009

One idea for the exhibit is to present the work through multiple channels of video, where each channel will feature a different dance and a different dancer’s voice. All channels would remain active, but to a different degree. Each animation will gradually turn into a video when it is time for that dancer/dance to be featured.  Meanwhile the other channels will slowly be evolving as animations, focusing on the figure. The idea is to always have movement but to eliminate distractions. In other words, I want to focus on the moving form, yet allow enough space, so the viewer is not overwhelmed and can engage with each dancer. At times all the screens/dancers may all react to a question or topic at once, but other moments will reserve space and focus on a particular dancer. Here are two sketches of this idea… slowly progressing animations into video. These are best watched at full screen. You will find this option right next to the vimeo logo… the arrows pointing out. Ideally these progressions would be even more slow and smooth… I’m having some difficulties getting the progression as smooth as I want it to be.

Studying Movement

Posted in Uncategorized by Brigid McAuliffe on September 6, 2009


I’ve had to use iMovie a bit over the past few months… both for the HD import and also in case I need to teach this at PlatteForum. Although I’m not a big fan of the software, I do enjoy the thumbnails in regard to dance. I have always been drawn to grids and repetition in imagery and often lay my photography out like this. I’ve found this is especially nice when observing dance and studying movement. Here are a couple screenshots of thumbnails from Jan’s tap class.


Dance Practice

Posted in Uncategorized by Brigid McAuliffe on September 5, 2009

We’re practicing for the workshops. These are stop motion  and I pulled some favorite stills and layed them out in grids. Again, I’m really enjoying studying movement this way. The first workshop with the girls will be a stop motion name game and dance off. The girls will hold up letters of their names and then dance some favorite moves.




Posted in Uncategorized by Brigid McAuliffe on September 4, 2009

I’ve been experimenting with one of my favorite materials… thread. I realized last Fall, when I created an installation using vellum, fabric and thread, how much I am drawn to the unique quality of lines achieved by using thread as a drawing material. For my current project, thread is conceptually fitting as well. Thread has a rich history, especially for women. It also has a light, ephemeral quality that I aim to express when talking about dance. The following drawings were made using thread on paper. Although these drawings were tedious and painstaking to make, just as dance takes an incredible amount of patience, practice and discipline, these drawings are not made to last. Similar to dance, they represent a fleeting moment. Initially I wanted to merely place the thread on the paper, creating loosely captured figures just from the curves. It was much more difficult to get the thread to lay how I envisioned it. Ultimately I ended up sewing the figures, which resulted in a nice surprise. The underside of the sewn figures has the loose aesthetic I wanted. Then looking at both drawings side by side, something else happens. Many dancers describe a certain “flow” when they are lost in a dance. They explain an altered consciousness. I can understand this slightly from my experience playing music, especially in a performance when everything comes together and you stop thinking. Something else takes over in that moment. You surprise yourself. Looking at these drawings side by side I see both selves. I see the composed, self conscious person and I also can see what lies deeper… the spirit of a performer… the reason why we keep going.

Picture 1Picture 2Picture 3Picture 4Picture 5Picture 6Picture 7Picture 8

Digital Flipbook

Posted in Uncategorized by Brigid McAuliffe on September 4, 2009

At PlatteForum I will be helping the young artists make flip books from their footage. This will accompany the animations and videos we make for the screen. I find having a tangible object to flip through is a great way to study the movement of the dancers and also understand how animation and video works. Here are some stills I pulled from a video of Mandy. I printed these and sewed them into a flip book as an example for the girls. Judy taught me how to do Japanese binding.


Threaded Panels

Posted in Uncategorized by Brigid McAuliffe on September 4, 2009

I will create a slightly more intimate space for the projections with large panels of threaded figures. The fabric panels will be 5 x 8.5 feet and will cross the room. Each panel will represent a different dancer from each of the five dances. The fabric is slightly transparent allowing the viewer to see both sides of the stitchings. Here is an example, but of course these are paper without the transparency I will achieve with the fabrics. Imagine seeing both sides… the internal and external, the still and the moving.


Flamenco Workshop

Posted in Uncategorized by Brigid McAuliffe on September 3, 2009

Mandy -aka- La Charumbela was our special guest. She has been dancing Spanish Flamenco for nearly a decade and has been a dancer most of her life. She performed a traditional Sevillana which is a folk dance of Southern Spain and also taught the girls some fundamental steps.


Baba Joda and Friends – West African Dance

Posted in Uncategorized by Brigid McAuliffe on September 2, 2009