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RDF Artist Spotlight: Malcolm Shute

As Richmond Dance Festival draws closer, Dogtown would like to highlight its next exciting artist: Malcolm Shute. Shute holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Maryland, and is currently on faculty at Towson University. He began his performing career in Washington D.C. with Nancy Havlik's Dance Performance Group and Jane Franklin Dance. After receiving his MFA, he founded Human Landscape Dance, a company now based in Washington, D.C. that aims to explore human struggle. Human Landscape Dance utilizes props to centralize the theme of each work; additionally each dance has its own, defined movement task which the dancers must resolve, creating a rich and layered performance experience for audiences. More about Shute, his company Human Landscape Dance, and the work Personal Tea Ceremony can be found below. Personal Tea Ceremony will be performed the first weekend of RDF, June 11th and 12th.

Photo by Kanji Takeno

Is this your first time at RDF/dogtown? If so, what drew you to RDF? if not, what about RDF brought you back?

This is our first time at Dogtown. It was recommended to us by local artist Robbie Kinter. He and I have practiced contact improvisation together at the DC jam. Contact improvisers tend to be a close-knit dance community. We get together and make dance on the spot. Knowing that Richmond welcomed contact improvisation drew us to apply to RDF.

What is integral to your work as an artist?

Partnering is a major feature of my work. Many of my colleagues communicate through solo work: expressing emotions through movement that accelerates, or becomes more forceful, or raw, set upon a single body. I like to expand the palette onto two or more bodies, exploring how emotions may be demonstrated when there is a partner to arrest a fall, a body to absorb force, or a stable base on which to fly.

How has the past year impacted your creation process for this piece?

I was lucky to pod with my dear friend Alexander Short. He and I have been dancing together in Human Landscape Dance for many years. We have continued to make dance for video with our remote partners, but, for the stage, we have set only duets for the last year. 

Is there anything else you would like the Richmond community to know about you and/or your work?

"Personal Tea Ceremony" explores an experience I had while traveling in Japan. Out scouting locations for a dance video, I encountered a Japanese man who spoke as little English as I speak Japanese, and offered me a ride to a remote location. After I took my photos, he led me to a temple for a tea ceremony. The event forged a bond between us, despite our differences.

Photo by Rob Cannon

More information about Human Landscape Dance:

Human Landscape Dance was founded in 2006, and has since brought contact choreography around the world. Specializing in artist partnerships, Human Landscape Dance has given performances, held workshops, and shot video footage in Europe, Asia, and South America, as well as cities across the US and Canada. Noted for “…ingenious choreography and staging...” by the Washington Post, the dances of Artistic Director Malcolm Shute are characterized by intimate portraits of people experiencing fundamental shifts in their lives and relationships: growing together, growing apart. Human Landscape Dance uses touch to communicate, bodies molding together in successive waves to create a pastiche of experience. Each project unites body and environment: in Kyoto, they danced on tatami mats in a Buddhist temple; in Santa Fe, through a carved sandstone cave. Their dance videos have twice been honored in the Gala Showing at the Contact Dance International Film Festival. Shute has led workshops in contact improvisation and Laban Movement Analysis in many nations.

Find Malcolm on Facebook. Find Human Landscape Dance on their website.

Grab your tickets for RDF today!

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