Ævium = of women, of time, of birds
The work of Ævium centers around our collective interest in themes of nature, connection, aging and womanhood. In this moment, we are 6 women dancers, ages 14-64. Ævium began with the meeting of Jayne Lee and Delisa Myles, who co-founded Northern Arizona's Human Nature Dance Theatre in 1994. Breanna Rogers, Ashley Fine and Mizu Desierto began working with the company shortly thereafter. Our youngest member, Sedona Ortega, is the daughter of Fine. Currently we are working in collaboration with Miana Jun (photography) and Studio M13, Lisa DeGrace & Stephen Miller (live sound & video).
About the Artists:
Jayne Lee (London/Flagstaff, AZ): Born in Wales and trained at the Place in London and at Julliard. She danced and choreographed for London Contemporary Dance Theatre for ten years and toured internationally. Jayne is Executive Director of Human Nature Dance Theatre, an interdisciplinary performance collective, which she co-founded with Delisa Myles and Paul Moore in 1994. She has choreographed numerous works for dance and theater companies world wide. She produced and directed the film DanceDownRiver, a tribute to wildness and water, filmed on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.
Delisa Myles (Prescott, AZ): Delisa Myles is a dancer, choreographer and educator who has worked professionally in all three areas since 1988. From 1994-2016 she taught at Prescott College where she was central in designing the dance program. She has done extensive work in intergenerational performance through her course Choreography in the Community. Delisa has a mission to broaden and humanize dance so that it is enjoyed and shared by all ages and abilities of people. Her choreography explores feminist, personal biography and nature based themes and has been funded by Arizona Commission on the Arts, Playa Residency Fellowship Program and Mertz-Gilmore Foundation. Currently she is Artistic Director of Flying Nest Movement Arts Studio in Prescott Arizona where she teaches Argentine Tango, improvisation and composition. She has an M.F.A. in Choreography and Performance from University of Colorado.
Mizu Desierto (Portland, OR): Mizu is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Water in the Desert (WITD) and The Headwaters Theatre. She is a performer, choreographer and educator whose work explores themes of identity, truth, ecology and transformation. Mizu’s artistic works have been commissioned by The City of Portland and Portland Center Stage and she is a frequent educator and choreographer for The Circus Project. In addition, her projects have received funding from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Oregon’s Regional Arts & Culture Council, Oregon Arts Commission, Portland Development Commission, The Multnomah County Cultural Coalition & The Oregon Cultural Trust. As an educator, she has taught intensive courses through Prescott College (AZ) and Portland State University. Most recently she was awarded a second artistic fellowship residency at Playa Summer Lake.
Breanna Rogers (Prescott, AZ): Breanna Rogers is a mother, a dancer, a choreographer and a teacher who received her BA in Dance from Sonoma State University. Her work explores relationship, home, family and the complexity of the human heart. Breanna has been a guest artist and teacher for such festivals as the Dancelebration Festival in Flagstaff, AZ and Tsunami on the Square in Prescott, AZ. Her choreographic work was selected, at two different times, to be shown at the Breaking Ground Dance Festival in Phoenix, AZ. Breanna has worked collaboratively with international artists and performers Nemcatacoa, from Columbia, to create a site- specific dance and stilt performance along Granite Creek in Prescott, AZ. She is currently the director of the dance and performing arts program at Skyview School in Prescott, Arizona, teaching dance to students K-8.
Ashley Fine (Prescott, AZ): Ashley Fine is a performing artist, choreographer and dance teacher. She is a dedicated mother and full-time elementary school teacher who also devotes a great deal of time to her artistic life. Ashley has choreographed several shows for theater companies including Prescott Center for the Arts and the Elks Opera House Foundation. She has been a featured artist at workshops and dance intensives including Kono Arts Camp in Santa Barbara, CA. She has performed in numerous festivals, such as, Tsunami on The Square, Breaking Ground Dance Festival (Tiny Dances), Flagstaff Dance Festival, and the American College Dance Festival. Ashley has also danced and collaborated with a variety of artists and performing companies such as Ævium, Verbobala, Nemcatacoa (Columbia), Tamara Albatis, Human Nature Dance Theater, Mills College Repertory Dance Company, and Center Dance Ensemble.
Sedona Ortega (Prescott, AZ): Our youngest member, Sedona is a 14 year old performer. She has studied multiple styles of dance including ballet, contemporary technique, improvisation and social dance. She has been involved in numerous dance performances including works created for film and several intergenerational pieces. In the summer of 2017, Sedona joined Ævium at Playa, and was the youngest artist to ever participate in a Playa Fellowship Residency. Sedona has also performed in multiple theatre productions including Annie and Alice in Wonderland. She participated as a performer and playwright in Prescott Center for the Arts’s Young Playwrights Festival. As a playwright, she was awarded honorable mention in 2013, and second place in 2014 for her original scripts. Sedona plans to continue developing her skills as an artist and has a particular interest in collaborating with artists of many different ages and mediums.
Miana Jun (New York/ PA): Miana is a dance photographer and filmmaker based in Pennsylvania and NYC. She has been documenting performance and collaborating artistically with choreographers for over two decades. Within her many collaborative projects a common theme she visually explores is the relationship with the body and the natural world. In addition to her many dance related projects, she contributes regularly to Movement Research Journal.
Lisa DeGrace (Portland, OR): Lisa is a composer and performance artist based in Portland, Oregon. Lisa primarily creates scores and compositions for dancers, as well as her own performance work. She describes her compositions as “environmental soundscapes,” developed from layers of vocal manipulation, sound clips, and live and recorded instrumentation. Her scores offer grounding for narrative, movement, and mood. In addition to composition work, Lisa creates performance pieces steeped in her training as a clown. She does not have large shoes however, and you shouldn't be frightened.
Stephen Miller (Portland, OR): Stephen was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and discovered photography in his late teens while seeking ways to express himself. Through the past 22 years, he has covered a wide variety of subjects, while steadily becoming more interested in unearthing the human psyche, pointing his lens at the “invisible subjects” in his life and the world. In the last two years he has created several installations using still photography and video, both as solo projects and as collaborations with other artists.
CURRENT PROJECT (in development): Intimacy with disappearance
“Intimacy with Disappearance” was initially envisioned during a PLAYA Fellowship Residency in the Great Basin Region of Eastern Oregon. Inspired by the desert ecosystem, the relative scarcity of water, and our extensive personal histories of dancing with one another, we began to explore the many notions of disappearance, both internally and externally, inquiring into the juxtaposition of geologic time and the shockingly miniscule lifespan of humans--a brevity further exaggerated for dancers, given the expectation that dance careers end, typically, by age 35. The project addresses numerous kinds and causes of invisibility--sexism, ageism, cultural, political, spiritual and ecological. It examines the similarities between environmental degradation and the human aging process, and explores the question: What does it mean to become metaphorically extinct? Working towards an installation and interdisciplinary performance premier in both the Northwest and Southwest regions of the U.S. in 2018, “Intimacy with Disappearance” will serve as a meditation on aging, gender, and our relationships to each other and to the natural environment.
This work is unique in its methodology, evolving from extensive time spent in the landscape of the Great Basin Region of Oregon. Rather than creating within a controlled studio setting, this work grew out of our experiences with the land, the climate, and each other. The photography and dance were informed and shaped by elements of the natural world: dust storms, cracked earth, shallow lake bed, heat and light. Our themes evolved from extensive conversations, writing, solo work, witnessing and reflection.
In our final performance we will work with Miana Jun to create a photography installation and Studio M13 to create an original music score (from field recordings of the playa) and installed projections, on multiple walls and on the floor, within a white box gallery/non-traditional performance space. The work will occur as a repeated, durational cycle to allow for the audience to come and go and to move through the space to witness from various perspectives. Our intention is to create the illusion and feeling of performers and audience immersed within a vast landscape. We want to explore the transformation from earth time to human time, in a way that happens slowly and imperceptibly. A light-filled space gradually differentiates into line, shadow and forms of landscapes. A dancing body appears and then disappears. Relationships form, human stories and emotions play out like clouds gathering and dispersing. Every second time is passing. A human life grows old. What is our mark with this brief life?
The dancers in this project currently span an age range of 50 years—12-62. Most of us have been dancing together for over 20 years. “Intimacy with Disappearance” will help broaden the mainstream idea of the function of dance and add to the discourse on dance and aging. Rather than present dance as an art of precision, a form of entertainment or an elitist spectacle, we want to bridge dance as performance with dance as healing and spiritual growth. This work furthers the humanistic approach to dance as an essential function of community connection.