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molly lieber and eleanor smith


GLORIA  ©Maria Baranova 



GENERAL KEYWORDS: Collaboration; Duration; Feminism; Feminist value system; Filtration system of working/Filtration process; Improvisation; Intuition; Judson Dance Theatre; Memory; Nudity; Postmodern Dance; Repetition; Sexual trauma; Violence

CHOREOGRAPHIC WORKS: Basketball; Beautiful Bone; Body Comes Apart; Gloria; Gloria rehearsal (excerpt); Rude World; Tulip

PEOPLE: DanceNoise performance art duo; Merola, Cindy; Schneemann, Carolee


Alvin Ailey School of Dance; Baryshnikov Arts Center; Connecticut College; Fresh Tracks; Residency & Performance program; Judson Church Movement Research; The New School; New York; New York Live Arts; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; Sarah Lawrence College; Virginia Commonwealth University


CITATION: Interview with Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith, Alessandra Nicifero, New York (04/09/2021). Project “Mnemedance”, Collection Mnemedance (#Mnemedance07) URL:<>, (accessed dd/mm/yyyy). 


general info


MOLLY LIEBER and ELEANOR SMITH share their first memories of studying dance and growing up before meeting in NYC. Their strong interest in improvisation, and their desire to develop a feminist value system, where forms of hierarchy are challenged and eliminated, are at the core of their experimental practice in creating choreographic works. 


The use of repetition and duration helps them distil and understand the content that first intuitively materializes in their bodies through their practice.  The process of remembering shared traumatic experiences of sexual assault through movement makes it possible for them to revisit, transform and find new empowering narratives. 


In terms of lineage, they feel a strong connection with “a category of women artists that have created big messes” within the NYC community. In co-teaching classes within academic institutions, they try to bring their non-hierarchical approach in order to re-create the supportive atmosphere that allows space for artistic expression. 

They spoke about the experience of the pandemic, and their new projects.


GLORIA ©Maria Baranova

interview questions




What are your early memories of dance? 


How did the two of you meet? 


How did your practice of creating work together develop? 


You have spoken before about creating a “filtration system” in your practice. How does that work? 


Is there a specific moment in the process, when you decide what material to bring to the stage, that is, when you know what should move from practice to performance?


How do you use your memories and shared experiences in your work? 


What about your lineage within the American modern/post-modern tradition? Is there a sense of belonging to a movement, a tradition? 


What do you co-teach and how do you transmit to others your unique practice?



Can you talk about the use of nudity in your work? 


Are there any lessons that you have learned during the pandemic? 


What are you working on now?


GLORIA ©Maria Baranova



MOLLY LIEBER and ELEANOR SMITH have been making dances in New York since 2006. Recent works include: Gloria (Abrons Arts Center, 2021), Body Comes Apart (New York Live Arts, 2019, Documented by The New York Public Library, Jerome Robbins Dance Division and remounted for Live Artery, January 2020), Basketball (PS122 and Baryshnikov Arts Center for COIL 2017), Rude World (PS122 and The Chocolate Factory Theater for COIL 2015), Tulip (Roulette, 2013; Judson Now at Danspace Project, 2012), and Beautiful Bone (The Chocolate Factory Theater, 2012). Residencies and awards: 2021 Jerome Hill Fellowship Finalists, 2021/2022 Artists in Residence at Movement Research, 2020/2021 Jerome Foundation AIRSpace Residency at Abrons Art Center, FCA Emergency Grant for Basketball 2019, 2019 BACSpace Residency at Baryshnikov Art Center, 2018 Family Residency at Mt. Tremper Arts, 2018 Bessie Schonberg Fellows at The Yard, 2018 DiP Residency Artists at Gibney, featured as one of Alastair Macaulay's "Best Dance of 2017" in The New York Times for Basketball, 2016 LMCC Process Space Residency, 2015 Rosas Summer Studios Recipient, PS122’s 2014/2015 RAMP Artist, 2014 BACSpace Residency at Baryshnikov Art Center, 2013 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award Nomination for Emerging Choreographer, and the 2013 NYFA Fellow Finalist Award. Molly and Eleanor were Guest Artists at Connecticut College in 2015, co-taught at Sarah Lawrence in the Spring of 2018, and at The New School in fall 2019. Molly received a 2016 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Performance, works as a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), and has two daughters, Ruby, 4 years, and Gloria, 10 months. Eleanor is currently an MFA candidate at Hunter College.

ALESSANDRA NICIFERO is an independent dance writer and translator based in New York City. She is the author of Bill T. Jones (L'Epos), and the co-editor with Mark Franko of Choreographing Discourses: A Mark Franko Reader (Routledge). Currently, she is studying at the New York Graduate School of Psychoanalysis.

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