Briefly describe the work you do.
My art is usually derived from thought and the hopscotch mapping of my mind bursting with free exploration. What my choreographic work attempts to bring forward is the visually appealing and the visually repulsive showing them to be equally captivating. My dance is sourced from my gut while my choreography is tasked. My art is an experiment of not only human reaction but human interaction. Often found in my work is discomfort coming from a natural place composed with irony and contradiction. I explore humanity’s energy force with its relation to the world and call on societal expansion. Lately, I have been expanding from dance and choreography into social and political based conceptual performances.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I grew up dancing with my older sister in Tigard, Oregon and began teaching and choreographing by the time I reached high school. I thank my peers from NYU Tisch School of the Arts for challenging me not only as a dancer but expanding my mind as an artist. Although my mode of presentation is in performance, I use a variety of mediums to create the final product including painting and writing poetry. I use text to create most of my phrase work although it may be completely unrelated to the concept. The Bhagavad Gita is a personal favorite. I am influenced heavily by eastern energy work and healing techniques. I write in stream of consciousness form which I then will translate into movement. I am inspired by past experiences, past lives, time, space, other dimensions, creatures, the universe in chaos and the universe in order, magnetic energy, elements, and circles.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My studio changes. Most of my thinking is done on the NYC subway. I am curious about human nature so it is a prime place for observations. Depending on the time of day, it brings my mind chaos or clarity, both are useful. My movement is best accomplished in an empty room. I feel I am constantly creating and it doesn’t matter the space I am in as long as I write it in my journal. What matters is my state of mind. I change the energy of the space to be conducive to creating.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
My roles continue to change. But I would prefer not to do the business end of this and the self promoting, its not where my head is. I am too floaty to do that job well.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
The best time is when it hits you. If it smacks me in the face or crawls with Kundalini up my spine I know I have to stop what I am doing and let it take over. It is the most honest work.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
Well to be honest two years ago I didn’t know I would be calling myself an artist, I knew myself only as a dancer. I have moved from not just choreographing modern contemporary works but into conceptual performance art. I toy with audience interaction and enjoy questioning social norms, encouraging the taboo.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
Sasha Waltz, Pina Bausch, Carolee Scheemann, Ralph Lemon, Patti Smith. But I am inspired by the beauty of the people and earth I am surrounded by everyday. The artists mentioned impact how I make art, but the people and earth open my spirit and tell me what I need to make.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
Reiki practitioner, naturopathic doctor, gardener, pilot, wine taster, travel blog writer, sustainable farmer, herbalist, motivational coach, physical therapist, interior designer, artifact, kindergarten teacher, tree house builder, travel agent, peace corps member, baker, yoga instructor, poet, flower arranger, dog walker, zoologist, explorer, archeologist, interpreter, philanthropist. I am curious about too many things to pick just one.
ERIKA BOUDREAU-BARBEE is an artist whose dance training started in Oregon and has led her throughout the US and to Italy, Israel, Germany, and Spain. She graduated with a BFA in dance from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. When in New York City she dances for Pilar Castro-Kiltz as a member of Ensemble Dance. In the past year she has premiered two performance art works, a film, and paintings at a gallery in Berlin, Germany as an artist in residence and spent three months flirting with performance in Belalcazar, Spain at La Fragua Artist Residency. In Spain, she collaborated with visual artists, performed at various shows, and premiered works at a split exhibition event. She is expanding from dance and choreography into social and political based conceptual performances. Boudreau-Barbee hopes to integrate art with healing and take a ride on creativity’s power.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.