International Women Choreographers  

Panel Discussion

Date and Time: Saturday May 27 6:00 PM
Duration: 60 minutes
Location: Cowell Theater Lobby

General Admission: FREE



Participants Include: Alyce Finwall (USA), Garance Marneur (France), Eve Mutso (Estonia), Raisa Punkki (Finland) and Alma Esperanza Cunningham (USA). Moderated by Rita Felciano

Five young women choreographers discuss how economics and cultural practice impacts the creative process; the approaches they have taken to establish a niche, home or business model for themselves in their home (or adopted) city/country; and have there been ramifications for the performing arts (and dance in particular) due to the rise of “national populism” as a political force. Why are women artists’ voices important in the current socio-political climate?


Rita Felciano wrote on dance for the San Francisco Bay Guardian for over two decades and Dance View Magazine not quite as long. She still is a Contributing Editor to Dance Magazine and writes regularly for the danceviewtimes website.

Alyce Finwall has been making dances since 1994, developing a uniquely creative and theatrical style, noted for having an “impressive and accomplished choreographic symphony” by the SF Examiner and a “fierce fluidity in performance and a brooding surrealism in the choreography” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She started AFDT in 1999 and has produced over forty original works in this seventeen-year history and has also had the great pleasure of collaborating with many diverse artists on works for both stage and film. Alyce experiments with process to create works that address the psychological and surreal states of contemporary culture as well as the richness and turbulence of our interior lives.

Garance Marneur, LEVYdance’s first Executive Artistic Director, has directed, designed and curated over 60 productions in the U.K. and internationally for theatre, dance, opera, and film, including works for Trafalgar Studios in London, National Theatre in London, Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Royal Shakespeare Company, Abbey Theatre in Dublin, the Exploratorium, and NBC Universal. Marneur won the Linbury Biennial Prize for Stage Design in 2007, and was nominated for Best Scenic Design at the Broadway World UK Awards in 2014.

Eve Mutso, born in Tallinn, Estonia, is a freelance dancer & choreographer and former Principal Dancer of Scottish Ballet, Scotland’s national dance company, where she danced from 2003 to 2016. Eve has choreographed and performed as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme in the past three years, presenting elEven in 2014, Ink of Innocence (featuring dancers from Scottish Ballet) in 2015 and Unknown in 2016. She has also choreographed and danced in a short balletic film Death as a New Beginning (Composer and Director Leighton Jones) in 2013. She was nominated in the United Kingdom for the Critics Circle National Dance Awards in 2015, 2013 and 2005.

Raisa Punkki is a San Francisco-based dance artist who was born and raised in Finland. After moving to San Francisco in 2003, she founded her dance company punkkiCo in 2005. Raisa Punkki’s artistic exploration happens through different forms of contemporary dance, theatrical work and through collaboration with artists from different disciplines. She has gotten awards and grants both in Europe and USA and has toured internationally. “A dancing body is ageless, and for me the most rewarding experiences as a performer and artist started to happen when I turned 46. I am still at the start of my journey.”

Alma Esperanza Cunningham attended a professional ballet program with her older siblings. Ballet is the house that she continually tears down to create formal chaos and to ask visual questions. Cunningham integrates her life experiences and those of her collaborators to create work that is human and unpredictable. Cunningham reframes the role of the female dancer by creating movement essays as a way of challenging the viewer’s expectation. Cunningham references art history, fashion and personal narrative to show us that the female experience is both complex and heroic. Her work has been presented at Dixon Place, Movement Research at Judson Church, Dance Theater Workshop’s Fresh Tracks. After moving back to San Francisco from New York, she formed her company Alma Esperanza Cunningham Movement (AECM). Alma has been an Artist in Residence at ODC, Jon Sims Center for the Arts, and in 2004/05, she partnered with Robert Moses in CHIME (Choreographers inMentorship Exchange), a program of the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company. Alma was the recipient of a 2004 GOLDIE (SF Bay Guardian’s Outstanding Local Discovery) award. In 2007, after giving birth to her daughter, she took a 5 year break from making and watching dance and in 2013 started back with a focus on female solos that have informed her current work.

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