Danielle Russo

Assistant Professor of the Practice

Overview

Danielle Russo (she/her) is a choreographer and performer, artivist and community organizer, and scholarly educator working in aesthetics, philosophies, and thresholds of experimental dance and performance on the continuum of intermedia and socially engaged artwork.

As a choreographer, she has been presented nationally at the American Dance Festival, Detroit Institute of Arts, Jacob’s Pillow, Lincoln Center for Performing Arts at Damrosch Park, The Oculus at the World Trade Center, and The Yard; and internationally in Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Mexico, Panama, South Korea, Spain, and Sweden. Residency and fellowship awards have included C.N.N. - Ballet de Lorraine (FR), Danscentrum Jette (BE), Nadine Laboratory for the Contemporary Arts (BE), Independent Artists Initiative WUK (AT), Jonah Bokaer Arts Foundation (US), LEIMAY (US), Mana Contemporary (US), Performing Arts Forum (FR), and Springboard Danse Montréal (CA), among others. She is a multi-year grant recipient of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs through the Brooklyn Arts Council (BAF, LAS), Carnegie, Dance/NYC, Harkness Foundation for Dance, One Brooklyn Fund, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Additional highlights from institutional commissions include The Ace Hotel; Armory Arts Week; Julian Schnabel’s Casa del Popolo; Governors Island; HERE Arts Center; The High Line Nine; La MaMa (FABnyc); LMCC River to River with Amy & Jennifer Khoshbin; The Metropolitan Opera’s Dancers, Chorus, and Orchestra for Open Culture NYC; Moynihan Station; NYU Langone Hospital and the Grossman School of Medicine; Place des Arts; and Solange Knowles’s Saint Heron, to name a few.

Her independent work is driven by social and civic impact, founded on a deep belief in local art activism that responds to neighborhood-to-nationwide urgencies and emergencies. Since founding Danielle Russo Performance Project (DRPP) in 2010, she has been producing large-scale performances and experiential artwork in public spaces, for public audiences, and frequently, through public collaborations. This emphasis on the intersection of local arts and public access aims to bridge existing gaps between what is all too often the exclusionary curation of live the arts and the larger, multi-cultural milieu that is New York City―her home base. Her praxis exists in three symbiotic parts: open performances, creative workshops, and interactive programming. The lifespans of said projects are ongoing with priority placed on its community engagement and activism practices, cultivating inclusive, authentic relationships and mutual aid with arts and non-arts partners and grassroots initiatives that align with its core values.  The results range from installations and immersive worlds to site-specific and interventional happenings; at times minimalistic, and at other times, stewed in heightened environments using sensory activation, mixed realities, and interactive technologies. These “stages” have ranged from Terminal 4 at JFK International Airport to the station corridors of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to the deep ends of olympic-sized pools abandoned by the city.

Outside of her own devising, Russo performed several seasons with The Metropolitan Opera.

As an educator, she is uniquely a professor of both dance practice and critical dance and performance studies, alike.  Russo invests in dance and performance as both cultural and critical analysis and social practice, and seeks to dismantle and repair the damage of a historically elitist and racist “canon.” With an emphasis on community-building, her courses frequently incorporate an involved network of diverse artists whose experiences and embodied research fosters authentic relationships, mentorships, and perspectives, while also demonstrating the serious importance of embodied and oral histories. Previously, Russo served on faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, SUNY Purchase, University of Iowa, CUNY Queens College, and The Joffrey Ballet School BFA and Professional Divisions. In 2021, she was selected by the Dean and the Office of the Provost at New York University to develop and teach a brand-new course, entitled Performance as Protest, in their prestigious Big Ideas Course Series offered across its global campuses. Her curriculum examined the art and act of performance as an influential model for social activism, civil disobedience, and community mobilization, and facilitated a community of local and internationally-acclaimed artists and collaborative instructors whose bodies of work intersect with urgent social causes and have catalyzed community and critical change. In 2022, Russo was recruited by the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase to teach critical dance studies on behalf of the Departmental Chair, Professor Darrah Carr. In addition to her work in universities and collegiate programs, she has taught at numerous international institutions and festivals across Europe, and North and Central Americas.

Currently, she is Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Performing & Media Arts, specializing in intermedia and interdisciplinary dance.

Research Focus

I craft sensoriums — stages that extend their arms and hug the audience whereby the dance entangles them. The aftermath of my creative process is physically rigorous, conceptually curious, and environmentally engaged. It is detailed and carefully prescribed in its structures and sequences but steeped in larger inquiries and experiments of place and social atmospheres. I produce magnified, porous worlds that feed off sensory stimulation and an awakening of the familiar: parlors flooded by 450,000 white roses, cement pillars suspending bodies with industrial cellophane, foyers carpeted in inexhaustible bubble wrap, the spoon-feeding of German chocolate cake to a string of strangers, 3 miles of geofenced storytelling, bare bodies dipped in magenta clay, vacant pools swamped in 10,000 pounds of dry soil, and the ravaging of ripe nectarines.

I deeply believe in the power of collective movement as a means to redefine the limits and preconceived notions of what choreography can be and how it can serve an immediate, local purpose. With an emphasis on public access and experiential design, my dances deliberately prompt audiences through their present spaces and places — encouraging new perspectives, understandings, and interactivity with the artists, landscapes, and communities seen, heard, felt, and amplified by the work.

Most recently, DRPP debuted Final Notice, which is a 1.5-mile traveling dance using mobile technology and community-driven archival to mark the increasing floodplain caused by climate change in coastal Brooklyn. Presented by Climate Week NYC, performances activate an interactive map app of the same name, which DRPP built over a 2-year collaboration with paid Youth Leaders at community centers Red Hook Initiative and El Puente, along with a community-based faculty of scientists and conservationsists, historians and stewards, activists, artists, and technologists facilitated by our cooperative. The #FinalNotice map app exposes climate change, environmental racism, and historical erasure on the Brooklyn waterfront, emphasizing neighborhoods with Superfund and Brownfield sites. Each live performance starts at the coastline and travels inland, while data research, diverse archives, and community interviews are cued on audience members’ phone screens and headphones, correlating to their real-time locations on site. Meanwhile, the performers wear GoPro cameras to live-stream for remote audiences and to actively record the landscape endangered by climate change in protest and demand for local policy change.

In the news

PMA Courses - Fall 2023

PMA Courses - Spring 2024

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