Barbie Diewald

Artist Statement

My choreography is continuous to my processes as a performer, scholar and teacher.

My work relates embodiment, collaboration, and processes of becoming and unbecoming. It is performed in formal proscenium theaters, intimate studio settings, art galleries, and at festivals locally, regionally and internationally. As a choreographer, I am guided by formalism, iteration, autonomy and theoretical research.

I bring my history and legacies into the studio at the level of the body.  Though my work is conversant with decades of study of western concert dance forms, improvisation, and vocal performance, it also calls on my multi-generational ancestral connections to the great plains.  These flat, outstretched horizons have led me to seek out openness, vastness and clarity in all my creative and pedagogical work.  

I come from a family lineage of both athletes and teachers.  My grandparents were Entomology professors at the University of Illinois, a schoolteacher, and a wrestler and athletic coach.  My mother, a former competitive gymnast, homeschooled all four of her children.  The nexus of scholarly research, teaching, and physicality feels both familiar and fertile to me.  

My work is informed by queer theory and the work of lesbian and queer femmes.  I understand disorientation, imprecision, failure, and “mis-use” to be generative.  My dances feel queer when they live in the tensions between agreement and defiance, sacred and quotidian, obedience and wilderness, chance and foresight.  These seemingly contradictory forces enliven my practice, prompting me to ask not “what is this?” but rather “what might this become?” 

My practice draws influence from the work of my teachers, mentors, and collaborators.  Among them are: Chris Aiken, Claire Bataille, Anne Bogart, Meredith Bove, Irene Dowd, Zvi Gotheiner, Neil Greenberg, Angie Hauser, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Mark Johnson, Karinne Keithley-Syers, Kira Kirsch, Lisa Kraus, Susan Marshall, Sandra Neels, Jennifer Nugent, Tere O’Connor, Janet Panetta, Jenna Riegel, Kate Seethaler, Vicky Shick, Lynn Simonson, Sara Smith, Risa Steinberg, Mark Tompkins, Mike Vargas, Kenneth von Heidecke, the faculty at Millikin University School of Theatre and Dance, and (perhaps most indelibly) my students.  


Originally from the midwestern USA (Kiikaapoi land), I am a dancer, choreographer and Assistant Professor of Dance at Mount Holyoke College.  I am a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellow in Choreography and  New England Foundation for the Arts New Work New England Grant Recipient. From 2008-2014 I created my work and co-directed TrioDance Collective, recognized as “a consistent force in the vast scene of emerging choreographers in NYC (Dance Informa).”  My dances have been presented in New York at BAM Fisher, the 92nd Street Y, Movement Research at the Judson Church, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, University Settlement, The Center for Performance Research, Mark Morris Dance Center, The former Graham Studios at Westbeth, The Chocolate Factory, and The Kitchen.

In 2014, I relocated to western Massachusetts where I completed my MFA at Smith College, and subsequently became visiting faculty at Keene State College and Mount Holyoke College.  In 2019, I began my work as Assistant Professor of Dance at Mount Holyoke College, where I focus on equity and collaboration in western concert dance forms, queer archival histories, anatomy, and synergies between the Arts and Neuroscience. My work has been presented in New England at the Jacob’s Pillow, Bates Dance Festival, Academy of Music Theatre, A.P.E Gallery, The School for Contemporary Dance and Thought, Villa Victoria Boston, High Street Studios, Subcircle, and MAGMA (Movement Arts Gloucester). 

I have developed my work with the support of numerous awards and residencies, including the 2022 New Work New England Grant, a Teaching Innovation Grant, 2018 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship in Choreography, Banff Centre’s Rick & Brune Sinneave Artist Award, a 2016 Bogliasco Fellowship, the New England Foundation for the Arts’ New England Dance Fund Award, and a grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. I was selected twice as a choreographer for New York Live Arts’ Bessie Schonberg Lab in Composition (with Gwen Welliver and Tere O’Connor respectively) as well as Susan Marshall’s SUMAC Choreographic research program, and was a recipient of Chen Dance Center’s New Steps Residency and the Upstart Residency at Brooklyn Arts Exchange. I have been an artist-in-residence at Bates Dance Festival; Jacob’s Pillow, through the Pillow Lab residency program; Ponderosa, an experimental dance center in Stoltzenhagen, Germany; the Iron Factory in Philadelphia; Cleveland School for the Arts; DanceNOW’s Silo at Kirkland Farm; Subcircle in Biddeford, Maine; and A.P.E. Gallery in Northampton, MA. 

I am a  faculty research fellow at Jacob’s Pillow, and have recently presented my scholarship at the Dance Studies Association Conference in Vancouver and National Dance Education Organization Conferences in Atlanta and Denver. I hold a BFA in Theatre from Millikin University and MFA in Dance from Smith College. I am a 2023-2024 Mellon Foundation BAL (Building Academic Leaders in the Humanities) Fellow, and am a recently elected board member of the American College Dance Association.