#Lang30: A Dancer Who Moves On Her Own Terms

When Gillian Walsh was deciding where to study dance, she wanted to be in a place where she could “maintain relationships with the outside world” and practice her craft “on my own terms.”

“I had a fear of being trapped on a campus with a ‘college mentality,’” she said. “I wanted to be able to stay on the outside as well.”

As for her craft, let’s just say Walsh—a dancer who eschews traditional theatrical styles in favor of experimental forms—didn’t really belong in the fusty conservatory setting.

She found a home at Eugene Lang College.

“When I decided it was time to go back to school, I knew I wanted to study dance, I knew what type of dance I wanted to study,” she said. “I knew I could do that at Lang.”

When she performs, Walsh relies on strict movements meant to steer the dancer away from “artificiality” and “theatrical tricks” one might see in ballet or musical theatre. Her most recent performance, “Scenario: Script To Perform” (at The Kitchen 512 West 19th Street, April 9-11), continues her work with “scores”—choreography derived from language and numerical codes.

Although her “strategies of dance-making” are all her own, it was at Lang that Walsh laid the groundwork for her “choreographic thought and development.” (Danielle Goldman, a Lang faculty member, was one of her most influential teachers.) In addition, Lang’s interdisciplinary curriculum “helped a lot in understanding my work in relation to the world outside of its genre-specific trap,” Walsh said.

When she wasn’t in class, Walsh immersed herself in New York City. Frequenting the city’s myriad performances spaces and galleries, she performed her own pieces and worked with with fellow performance artists, including the boundary-pushing choreographer Ann Liv Young. She also interned at Movement Research, a leading laboratory for the investigation of dance and movement-based forms.

After graduating from The New School in 2011, Walsh’s career blossomed. She worked on Grinding and Equations—a series focusing on fetishization, small-scale body virtuosity and intricate choreographic scoring of pop cultural objects—for which she earned the praise of The New York Times and Time Out New York. Walsh’s work was recently featured in AUNTSforcamera, an exhibition at the New Museum.

Walsh says that while “It’s hard to say what created me,” her experience at Lang gave her “the space to become the artist I’ve become.”

To learn support Walsh’s ongoing research into structure, choreography and dance, visit her project page on Fractured Atlas.

Every Thursday, New_S presents a new story celebrating the 30th anniversary of Eugene Lang College. Are you a Lang graduate with a story to share? If so, please go here.