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 Souvenir is a mobile choreographic architecture used as a container for artistic research and dance performances of various formats (15 minutes-6 hours, duet/solo/group) in museums, gallery, and public spaces. The work was created during a Works in Progress Residency  at Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC, NYC) and the Princess Grace Foundation (PGF, USA). It has been presented at BAC (2013), Wanås Konst (SE) (Dance Me exhibition 2014 with a total of 167 public showings and performances), and adaptations of the work (Souvenir Undone)were created on Governor’s Island through a residency with Lower Manhattan Culture Council in St. Cornelius Chapel (2014), and in Fort Jay for the River to River Festival (2015). The work has been supported by Kulturrådet, Konstnärsnamden, Rumpus Room Dance (501c3 non-profit Portland, Oregon), Opsis Architecture, BAC, LMCC, and PGF.


Souveniris a 5 by 8 meter mobile choreographic architecture designed and built in 2013 in

collaboration with carpenter Gian Monti, and dancers Kenneth Bruun Carlson, Anna Pehrsson,

and Luis Rodroguez. The concept stems from research into the effects of kinesthetic empathy in

confined spaces and an interest in territoriality through the questioning of boundaries as defined

by specific contexts. The initial design was based on the simple assumption that if you get closer

to the dancing bodies you can sense the dance more readily. The audience experience will be, for

lack of a better word, more real, amplified, catapulted into the empathic response to the vibration

of the bodies moving in a confined space. Micro movements will read as voluminous. Subtle

nuances will be easily accessed. The question “what did that mean?” will be subverted by


By focusing first on the effects of kinesthetic empathy through choreographic practice we aim to

re-direct the audience’s experience from the formal to the cellular. How does the audience

perceive the texture of the space between their body and the dancing bodies? How can this

experience apply to their experience of the architecture and how does it change the way they

perceive their surroundings after leaving Souvenir? Can wood become rubber? Can up become


The dancers ride a range of fluctuating qualities produced through a reciprocal transmission of the

sensual between bodies and building materials, bodies and bodies, and bodies

and light. They become the texture of the wood only to transform into liquid and back again in a

split second. Fiction is suspended and their exploration is anatomical. Muscle memory lends itself

to dreaming. Through the cracks in complex movement strategies the recognizable becomes

evident only to be washed away again. The audience and performers acclimate to the space and each other. Inside of Souvenir we have our own sense of time, our own songs, our own rhythm that cannot be unhinged from the audience’s presence. We focus on the dancers, we focus on each other - we understand the structure as a living, breathing organism through the pores in our skin.

Souvenir is used as both a frame and a boundary device in artistic research investigating the

interplay of territory making and destroying across different levels of scale, from the individual

(choreographer, dancer, and artisans) to the interpersonal (dancer to dancer) to the social

(audience) and ecological (locale). We explore the possibilities of the structure as [1] an art object

generated from a choreographic process, [2] a platform for continued investigation of

choreography through dialogue and practice, and [3] the setting for performances of various

lengths and formats. The project could be conceptualized as a sculptural intervention in which the

audience is invited to experience the artwork behaviorally from the moment they choose to walk

through the door, to the moment when they encounter the dancers in the confined space, to the

Concept/Choreography: Rachel Tess

Written and performed by: Anna Pehrsson, Kenneth Bruun Carlson, Luis Rodriguez, and Rachel Tess

Light: Michael Mazzola

Producer (North America): Ian Arnold Catalyst TCM

Producer (Sweden): Albin Hillervik

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