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Ian Spencer Bell - Visiting Artist in Dance

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Bard College at Simon's Rock

Daniel Arts Center

84 Alford Road

Great Barrington, MA 01230

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The Bard College at Simon's Rock Dance Program Presents:

IAN SPENCER BELL

Thursday, November 16th at 7PM

A brief, moderated discussion about the work and process will follow the hour-long performance.




Combining dance, poetry and memoir in his work MARROW, Ian Spencer Bell recalls growing up gay in rural Virginia and ponders ideas of home. Bell constructs the narrative using childhood stories and gossip. Often he seems to be speaking to himself, the audience bearing witness to confession. MARROW premiered at the LGBT Center in Manhattan in 2016 as a fundraiser for The Center’s youth programs.

Also on the program is a new ensemble work. Bell is joined by two members of his group, Gary Champi and longtime-collaborator Joshua Tuason, who performed with Bell on the Inside Out Stage at Jacob’s Pillow. Trios, duets, and solos unfold as Bell discusses a romantic relationship with another dancer. Blending idiosyncratic movement with classical dance, Bell creates a queer language of his own.


“At its best, his movement itself seems to do the talking, physical sentences inseparable from verbal ones — neither upstaging the other — so that what results is not dance and not poetry but some third medium.” – The New York Times


Bell’s fascination with form led him to mixing the two genres. “I’m always thinking about what dances do and what they contain. From the start of my career, I’ve been making pieces inspired by poetry. 10 years ago, I made a solo for Dickinson’s ‘I felt a Funeral in my Brain.’ As a challenge for myself, I tried reciting the poem at the conclusion of the solo. It was the first time I had spoken onstage in a dance. Around the same time, I started thinking more about scores and made a piece for the sound of keys dropping for Elizabeth Bishop’s poem ‘One Art.’ I also started writing program notes to accompany my work. The talking dances I’m working on now were inevitable.”

Ian Spencer Bell trained at North Carolina School of the Arts, School of American Ballet, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. At age 19, he started making his own choreography. In May, Bell graduated from NYU’s MFA in poetry program, where he studied with Sharon Olds, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Edward Hirsch. He studied at Sarah Lawrence with Marie Howe. Bell has danced his solo works at the Poetry Foundation and the Queens Museum and received grants and fellowships from Lambda Literary, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Local dancers know Bell from workshops at the Berkshire Pulse and his community ballet class at the Pillow, where he has taught since 2010, been a research fellow, and been the recipient of a creative development residency.

This excerpt from “An Autobiography, Written in Bodies: Ian Spencer Bell Marries Words and Movement” covers a performance at the Martha Graham Studio theater and shares insight on Bell’s unique work.


For more information or to register through the Daniel Arts Center box office call 413-528-7400 or email us at boxoffice@simons-rock.edu

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Bard College at Simon's Rock

Daniel Arts Center

84 Alford Road

Great Barrington, MA 01230

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