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  • a collective of dance and performance artists committed to artistic innovation.

  • spans seven cities, four countries, two continents, one earth.

  • embraces today’s dance and performance community as a global phenomenon.

  • connects virtual and ideological cohorts, providing a web of support for artistic growth and daring.

  • artist follows his/her own artistic trajectory while also being invested in ensemble building and collective art-making.

Lower Left formed in 1994 as Nina MartinKaren Schaffman, and Jane Blount, whose careers had been based in New York City and Europe, and Mary Reich, a native of San Diego, all found themselves in the Southern California region. These four artists found a lack of postmodern dance in the area and quickly organized to fill the need. During the next several years, founding Lower Left members invited other artists to join the collective, including Margaret PaekRebecca BryantAndrew WassAlicia MarvánJessica Radulovich, Leslie ScatesShelley Senter, Kelly Dalrymple, Julie Lebel and Karen Høybakk Mikalsen.


From 1997 to 2006, Lower Left invigorated San Diego as collective in residence at Sushi Performance and Visual Art, a nationally recognized presenter of cutting edge dance and performance art. As the lives and careers of Lower Left artists have shifted and grown, Lower Left has geographically expanded to include the cities in which Lower Leftists now reside: New York, Marfa, Appleton, Berlin, Houston and Central Mexico. Currently, Lower Left is a program of Marfa Live Arts, a thriving educational and performance organization based in West Texas. Lower Left is continually grateful for Marfa Live Arts‘ essential support and for the generous use of the Crowley Theater.

Lower Left is dedicated to the spontaneous combustion inherent in the collaborative process, choosing to rely on the combined artistic vitality of its artists rather than the hierarchy of the traditional dance company. Following this collective model, both artistic and organizational aspects are centered around an openness and spontaneity that have become Lower Left’s trademark.

Lower Left’s work deals with personal, social and political issues using original movement vocabulary that is created collaboratively as well as individually. Performance works range from purely technical, highly physical dances to complex theatrical multimedia dance plays. Lower Left has garnered extensive recognition from the community, including five San Diego Dance Alliance “Tommys”, as well as being presented at numerous festivals and theaters in Mexico, the US and Russia.

The collective’s commitment to teaching aims to propel adventurous movers beyond their perceived ideas of dance and the creative process. Since 1997, Lower Left has hosted numerous workshops and intensives, which have drawn participants from across the US, Mexico, Europe, Canada, Japans and Australia. Classes by collective artists have included Postmodern Dance Technique, Contact Improvisation, Ensemble Thinking, Creative Research (personal investigation in performance), Hamilton Floor Barre, Experiential Anatomy, Authentic Movement, Improvisation Techniques and Rewire/States Work.

Lower Left is also known for hosting internationally renowned artists as both performers and teachers. These guest artists include Simone FortiDan FrootStephen Petronio Dance Company members, Victoria MarksPaul Langland, Nikki Castro, Mary Overlie, Ray Chung, Kathleen HermesdorfOlive BierengaKim Epifano, Steve Paxton, and Deborah Hay. Lower Left has also brought artists, spanning the genres of music, video, theater and visual art, together through their critically acclaimed Available Space improvisational concerts.

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