Who's at the Center? Jennifer Monson

03 Jul 2013


Jennifer Monson. Photo by Ian Douglas.

On June 12, 2013, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage welcomed experimental dance choreographer Jennifer Monson for a day-long investigation into compositional forms and structures: from cartography and mapping to the golden mean and the fibonacci sequence, from migration patterns and water flow to responsive design.

The session was split into two parts. In the morning, a dozen choreographers, dancers, musicians, and playwrights performed a slow, guided "sound walk" from the Center's building on Walnut Street to a rooftop garden at the Curtis Institute of Music. Along the way, Monson encouraged everyone to focus on the sounds around them—near and far. Up on the roof, Monson then lead everyone through a series of exercises that joined listening with movement.

In the afternoon, Monson gave a presentation about her organization iLAND (interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature and Dance), which helps facilitate cross-disciplinary research among artists, scientists, urban designers, and others with curious minds. She spoke to the group about her work and the evolving experience of listening to and creating music in contemporary culture. Each participant had the opportunity to introduce and to share a piece of music or a field recording of relevance to the day's activities, such as Andrea Polli's Sonic Antarctica (Gruenrekorder, 2009) or Don Pullen and the Chief Cliff Singer's Sacred Common Ground (Blue Note Records, 1995).

About Listening Sessions: Listening Sessions at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage provide a forum to actively listen to and discuss music. In these sessions we examine the new culture of listening and investigate where work fits within the larger lineage of music and how a plethora of styles are interconnected. Artists and presenters contribute examples of music that have informed their artistic and curatorial process. This music serves as a catalyst for questions and critical discussion.


Jennifer Monson is a choreographer, improviser. and performer, as well as the founder and artistic director of iLAND. For more information about Monson, please visit www.ilandart.org.