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Paul Byron Suber

Senior Lecturer

Schwartz Ctr-Performing Arts, Room 426
217 ESTY STREET
pbs6@cornell.edu
607-256-1009

Website(s)

Overview

Byron Suber is originally from New Orleans, LA, and moved to Ithaca in 1991 after ten years of living and working in New York City. His work there included choreography, music, theatre, costume design and performance art. His pieces have been shown at La MAMA Inc., Performance pace 122, the Kitchen, DANSPACE, the American Dance Festival and The Wigstock music festival. He has received grants and awards from the Harkness Foundation, Art Matters Inc., New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Cornell Council for the Arts. He has taught at the American Dance Festival at Duke Univesity, Dance Space and Steps in NYC as well as various universities in the States and Europe. Since coming to Cornell he has continued to create work in dance and theatre as well as entering the realm of digital media, for instance in collaboration with professors and students from MIT on a pair of digitally wired sneakers that produced music when the dancer moved. At Cornell, Suber teaches ballet and modern technique, dance history and criticism, dance composition, and digital media. Outside of his position in the Department of Theatre, Film and Dance, he completed a M.A in the History of Architecture and Urbanism in the School of Art, Architecture and Planning at Cornell.

In his architectural work, in looking for a site for study where the moving (or immobile) body is inescapably bound to architecture, his present project titled, Unreconciled Spaces: a Poetics of Incarceration, considers the ways in which prison space behaves as a persistent metaphor while engaging the body as a specific form of cultural production. This requires an exploration of how the body and carceral environment intersect with urban space, domestic space and theatrical space, specifically in the sphere of cinematic expression. Continuing his research, he is exploring American and European national identities as influenced by non-white bodies, particularly when juxtaposed to modern spatialities in American, Italian, French and North African films and urban spaces. Additionally, he is working on a book titled Strebtopia that considers the philosophical implications of the work of choreographer Elizabeth Streb. He is also working on a textbook titled Identity and Ideology in Classical Ballet. This text considers the history of western classical dance as it both perpetuated and confronted western ideology in the realms of race, class, gender and sexuality. In 2005, through Cornell, Suber developed a 4-week summer program in Theatre, Film and Dance in Rome, Italy. Since then the program expanded to include a parallel program in Dublin, Ireland, Barcelona Spain and Paris and Marseilles, France.

Departments/Programs

  • Performing and Media Arts

Research

  • Byron Suber's work encompasses projects in performance (ballet/modern technique, movement composition, dance and technology and dance history in the context of cultural studies) and interfaces with the study of cinema, architectural/urban history and social theory. He is a creative artist in the realms of choreography and experimental film, music and theatre, as well as an historian. As a choreographer he works in the genres of ballet, modern and dance theatre. As an historian his areas of interest are French History 1600-present, History of Russia and Soviet Union, Modernism, History of Classical Ballet, French and Italian African Colonialism, French, Italian and American Cinema and Carceral Histories.
  • Suber's present creative project (2010-11) will engage in the development of performance work in both body movement and vocalization. For several years, Suber has been working with William Forsythe's system of movement development elaborated in Forsythe's CD ROM, Improvisation Technologies. Suber will also return to a related system of movement development he created in the mid 90's and incorporate work he has done with Cornell Professor Francis C. Moon, Joseph C. Ford Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Moon is the Curator of the Cornell Collection of Reuleaux Kinematic Models (http://kmoddl.library.cornell.edu/). This is the most extensive collection of kinematic models created in the 19th century demonstrating basic elements of mechanical motion. Suber will also work with architectural students who will design architectural interventions that will focus on framing body movements in various locations around Ithaca and beyond and will culminate in a full performance in March 2011 in the ultimate theatrical frame of a proscenium theatre.
  • A recent course Suber developed titled, "50's Movie Musicals and Modernism" explored the ways in which the tensions between stage and screen and cinema and television produced a preoccupation with tenets of Modernism essentially predicting a "pre-post-modern" aesthetic. The course focused specifically on Modernism in Dance and Architecture and worked towards deconstructing notions of modernism as it relates to concepts of folk art and primitivism.
  • In his Masters thesis in History of Architecture and Urbanism he was looking for a site for study where the moving (or immobile) body is inescapably bound to architecture, his present project titled, The Poetics of Incarceration, considers the ways in which prison space behaves as a persistent metaphor while engaging the body as a specific form of cultural production. This requires an exploration of how the body and carceral environment intersect with urban space, domestic space and theatrical space, specifically in the sphere of cinematic expression.
  • Suber will return to his interest in Utopia as a literary genre, architecture genre proposing a similar categorization for Western concert dance. Looking to the position of master of choreography, a modernist notion, the isolated worlds of Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine will be closely examined as possible utopias in comparison to self proclaimed utopias in other fields.

Courses

Publications

  • Working on a book that considers the philosophical implications of the work of choreographer Elizabeth Streb.
  • He is also working on a textbook titled Identity and Ideology in Classical Ballet. This text considers the history of western classical dance as it both perpetuated and confronted western ideology in the realms of race, class, gender and sexuality