Vanessa Voskuil: 100 Creatives

Categories: 100 Creatives
Vanessa Voskuil photo by joe treleven.jpg
Photo by Joe Treleven
Number 74: Vanessa Voskuil

City: Minneapolis

Years spent living in MN: 14 years

It takes a special talent to create a compelling dance piece using mostly volunteers with little or no training, but performance artist, choreographer, and director Vanessa Voskuil did exactly this with "en masse." The captivating performance, which won a City Pages Best Of in 2010, demonstrated how a group of people could meld together into a collective body of flowing movement. The piece is one of many eye-catching, innovative, and experimental productions by Voskuil. Over the years she has collaborated with local companies such as the Stuart Pimsler Dance Company, Catalyst Dances, and Skewed Visions, in addition to co-founding physical theater group Live Action Set. She also recently tackled the challenging world of dance cinema with Overflow, a film created with filmmaker John Koch for the Southern Theater's Dance Film Project 2010.    

en masse photo by Cameron Wittig.jpg
"en masse" photo by Cameron Wittig
Name three things that are inspiring your work right now:

1. Public health and wellness and the experience of community.

2. A search for ways to extend our physical identity and the consciousness of the body.

3. The moment of discovery, when you walk through fear.

Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:

1. My innate curiosity of the precise state of human feeling expressed through movement.

2. Achieving intimacy through the discovery and realization of an idea.

3. I have always been fascinated with the temporal and the ephemeral, such as in each living moment. Movement-based performance embodies these qualities and my desire to work on that level.

What was your last big project?

"En masse" premiered in 2009 at the Southern Theater and was commissioned by the Walker Art Center and the Southern Theater as part of Momentum: New Dance Works. The piece attracted 70+ volunteer participants and was designed and choreographed with the intention to create a something that anyone, regardless of background or barrier, could participate in. An interview by 3 Minute Egg is posted below:

In December 2010, Cinema Revolution Society presented its first annual Minnesota Dance Film Festival (which I am the festival director of) and I premiered my third dance for camera, "Overflow," as a part of Dance Film Project 2010.

Overflow from John Koch on Vimeo.

What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?

overflow photo by john koch.jpg
"Overflow" photo by John Koch
In April I will premiere a new solo work that has been commissioned by local composer Zachary Crockett at the Ritz Theater and, as part of my position as Festival Director of the Minnesota Dance Film Festival, I will be traveling this summer to Europe to tour dance film festivals.

What has been your creative/career high point (so far)?

It is always the current project that I am working on that is my "high point." But I have certainly learned from and valued my past artistic endeavors as a co-artistic director of Live Action Set and as a performer for various dance companies.

What has been your biggest challenge as a choreographer/performer?

When going into the creative void, I have had to learn how to put my creative projects on a shelf at times in order to attend to other aspects of my life.  

Vanessa Voskuil, photo by John Koch.jpg
Photo by John Koch
How has the local scene changed since you began your career?

The development of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts is a significant step towards bringing awareness and accessibility of dance. It says, as a community, that we value this artistic medium.

Do you have a favorite performance venue? Why?

The Southern Theater has been a home for my independent work and for many performances that I have been a part of in the past as a performer. It is an integral part of the dance community as a curated venue.

If your life was a movie, what genre would it be found under? What would it be called?

Independent. Innocence.

en masse photo by Jim Smith.jpg
"en masse" photo by Jim Smith

Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.

Past creatives, so far:

100. Jennifer Davis
99. Sean Smuda
98. Chuck U
96. Amy Rice
95. Kara Hendershot

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Training Leash
Training Leash

Wow .Awesome , I love the pics and the creativity of the blog itself . Thanks for sharing this one to us . Keep posting . :)


And I will add my voice suggesting OffLeash Area. Their fusion of movement/dance and theater/script creation, together with their extraordianry self-designed sets make them a unique and striking mutli-disciplinary powerhouse. They already received two or three Ivey awards from the theater community and a SAGE award from the dance community.


John Heimbuch.

John has written several plays that have been performed at various locations in Minnesota. John is also co-artistic director of Walking Shadow Theatre who has enhanced the theater experience in the Twin Cities Area. John is also singer and song-writer of Minnesota's own retro-futurist art rock band, Bad September.


I really recommend Off-Leash Area, for their boundary-breaking mix of theater and dance, movement and text. There's always a social subtext in their work and the visual worlds they create with very little material are amazing.Plus, they perform in GARAGES


My top pick is Off-Leash Area. Awesome fusion of Dance and Theater!

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