Professor Kellinger: A Choreographic Mind

On Feb. 24, Paula Kellinger, M.F.A. Professor of Dance, gave the Orr at Midday talk, “Choreographing Minds,” in Laird Hall. One of several presentations, Kellinger’s talk follows the theme “Prophetic Fragments.”

“Prophetic Fragments is this notion that in a modern context, an ancient tradition is left in fragments,” notes David True, Associate Professor of Religion and Orr Forum organizer. “It implies pluralism, it’s diverse, it’s marginalized, and there’s also this notion that it’s nevertheless powerful. I love the prophetic because it hints at religions can be critical—it’s not simply a legitimating function, it can be critical. It’s a way of seeing the ‘other.’”

Kellinger speaks of her process as a choreographer and the similarities in the processes of others within their own disciplines. She seeks to define the choreographic mind—something she has not yet fulfilled but is constantly working towards.

“Making is a form of thought,” Kellinger begins. “It is one that leads you further into yourself; it brings you to an understanding of your true nature.”

Kellinger speaks beautifully of dance and choreography while also taking a critical turn on how, as a discipline, it may also take a turn for the prophetic: “Dance making engenders knowledge. It sheds lights on and deepens things you’re thinking about. Making is an endless quest with an ever shifting ground.”

Kellinger studied at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, receiving an MFA in Dance. She then travelled to Adelphi University, receiving her BFA in Dance. Kellinger has worked with Wilson College since 1989, offering a vast expanse of knowledge which she imparts on a captive audience of thirty or so students, faculty and staff.

“A choreographic mind is one that perceives space, objects and sensations in equal proportion to people and their emotional landscape,” she says. “Through that perception, they draw relationships, read movement and meaning, and make meaning in movement.”

Through language as fluid and carefully thought as her regard for the craft, Professor Paula Kellinger details her understanding of dance as the maker and the mover, culminating at the end of her eighteen minute monologue which succinctly ties her discipline to notions of the prophetic.

“I’m drawn to the notions of fractured time, fractured memory, fractured thought and fractured culture. In the course of the day, a face will register hundreds of ticks and twitches. In each of these visual and audible cues are clues to the multitude of thoughts that modify them,” she concludes. “I have always been fully engaged in the process of making dances. My curiosity deepens; the wonder of it grows in magnitude. There is nothing in the world like it.”


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