July 25, 2018

Spotlight on Faculty: Erika Batdorf

1. Who are you?

Who am I? If I knew I might not be still making theatre! Partly I am an artist that makes new performance work with people about intense and sometimes funny things. I am blessed to work internationally a lot (15 countries and 16 US states, 17 by next year! Here we come Kansas!) and I am always putting myself in situations where I am not entirely sure what I am doing. I make music with some folks in Germany, I work with dancers as a dramaturg/co-creator, I devise/direct performance work that is sometimes mistaken for theatre, I work with visual artists that I can never figure out what to call (new media/biosensor/digital art scientists?) and I perform a bunch of wacky characters. I created a technique, The Batdorf Technique (TBT), that helps performers use sensation for authentic emotional presence. I teach movement for actors and performance creation at York with some genuinely amazing colleagues that I feel blessed to work with and I run The Batdorf Spring Intensive every year with some excellent TBT-trained folks who keep me on my toes. I am also a Mom and a few other things. I like ducks a lot, like, a lot… ask my kid, it’s a bit weird.

2. Tell us about a creative or research project that you have been immersed in recently.

2 things recent things, and one thing on the horizon:

  1. I directed/dramaturge a piece called Tales and Dancers around the Baobab Tree for Lua Shayenne, for Arts in the Parks, this summer.
  2. I performed in SummerWorks in my play The Red Horse is Leaving with Zoe Sweet, one of our MFA Acting grads from 2011, directed by Kate Digby. It included some biosensors, audience interaction and deals with madness and creativity. The Red Horse is Leaving will also be in the Rendezvous with Madness festival in October!
  3. I am working on an immersive performance installation, that includes 2 former York grads Tosha Doiron (MFA 2011) and Asha James (BFA 2018), which is being co–created with Kate Digby, the cast and a team of those mysterious art/scientists I mentioned that make lights, sound and images do fun things with VERY new technology. We are using The Batdorf Technique (TBT) to create material and are in rehearsals this summer—this will likely open in about 2020. This piece deals with how trauma affects our internal sense of freedom, and is a cross border US/Canada production.
Erika Batdorf and Kate Digby in rehearsal for The Red Horse is Leaving
Erika Batdorf and Kate Digby in rehearsal for The Red Horse is Leaving

3. What production or artist or scholar has had the most impact on you over the course of your career?

Wow… just one? Gaudí makes me cry… literally I weep as I approach his buildings. Martha Graham carries a torch I follow (especially her work with Noguchi), Grotowski started something important I feel like I am deeply compelled to try and move forward, and our own Canadian Clown, darling Richard Pochinko, who taught me things about love, risk and art I could never put into words, I hope to go dancing with them all when I die. You are all welcome to join me. Can’t you just see that outdoor dance party? Graham, Gaudí and Grotowski with Pochinko, a crazy Alberta clown teacher orchestrating, dressed as garage mechanic (that was his way)? Garden by Gaudi, café tables by Noguchi, who is standing in the middle of his own perfect sculpture fountain giving a monologue (that I am dying to write) with Graham and Grotwoski and his crazy beard and bad hair getting us all dancing (long weird dresses required for ALL, even me, who never wears dresses, but for Graham, oh yea…) wanna come? I think even Pina Bausch will show up. Not to be missed!

4. Is there an image or a quotation that inspires you?

Buildings and animals are my jam.

  1. Sagrada Familia… I waited with my 2 year old who was being toilet trained, for a LONG TIME. Almost got there and we had to go to the bathroom… and start all over again. Once in, I kept having to explain to him why I was crying. I cried so hard it was hard to see. I keep going back every chance I get. The wallpaper on my phone goes back and forth between my son in an entirely yellow outfit at 14 and the windows of that building.

    La Sagrada Familia by Gaudí, photo by Canaan • CC BY-SA 4.0
    La Sagrada Familia by Gaudí, by Canaan • CC BY-SA 4.0
  2. AND The only reason I want to be famous is to create a performance event in Hagia Sophia with some horses. Please, please… dream big right?

    Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, by Arild Vågen • CC BY-SA 3.0
    Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, by Arild Vågen • CC BY-SA 3.0
  3. Ducks- Buffleheads, hooded mergansers, long tailed ducks, golden eye ducks, wood ducks Right here at home. Excuse me, I am going to go visit them now.
No machine-readable author provided. Mdf assumed (based on copyright claims). • CC-BY-SA-3.0
Bufflehead Duck • CC-BY-SA-3.0