portia wells

Artist Statement

As dancer, choreographer, director, and project manager, I am both the poet and the word of the poet. I am the means of production, the product, and the producer. I am, as Audre Lorde conceived of the poem, that which is felt first and given name and form later. For me, dance making is puberty; it is the multiple puberties of my transness with all of the messiness and confusion that bubbles to the surface no matter how much planning. Dance has been the central axis of my life, mobilizing my personal voice to communicate and research inter- and intrapersonal dynamics, ephemerality, and otherwise. My work takes root in lived reality, emerging from uncovering and processing experiences which gives breath to my personal voice. My work centers on identity, intimacy, and performativity as informed by my lived queer/trans experience, collaborative creative processes, and feminist, queer, and trans theory.

I wrestle with performative aspects of the quotidian and the ways we engage the simultaneity and multiplicity of gazes and of witnessing, being observed, and performing. In my work, I am interested in creating and sharing the moments that feel as though perhaps we should not have witnessed them. The undressing, the slowest of slow dances, the goofiest bedroom dance that you perform all alone, the song in your head that just can’t help but slip out, the moments of vulnerability, of joy, and the (sometimes accidental) glimpses of truth.

My process and my work comes from the people in the room with me and what they carry with them. Through conversation, storytelling, theory making, improvisation, collaboration, games, and movement research, dance making provides a structure to develop and build a deep connection and understanding with myself and the people I collaborate with. There are so few places in regular life where we are able to rejoice in tenderness, collaboration, and the value of individual perspective. I dream that dance can save us, even if only in small ways.