Originally from the Portland OR area, Bird was part of an influential cohort of dancers that graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in the early 2010s. While most of that group eventually landed outside Seattle, including Bird moving to Philadelphia in 2018, the work coming out of that era continues to influence the Seattle scene.
Even as a young artist, Bird had a complete aesthetic point of view that was not only movement, but whole worlds. The work I saw of theirs left a deep poetic impression on me—of softness giving way to rawness. Of pastels and feathers and glitter. Of beauty as a way into darkness and back again. Those that knew Bird knew that their creativity was not contained to the dance space but infused their life—wherever they went Bird created strange and marvelous beauty.
This article contains a collection of photos and reflections submitted by present and former members of the Seattle dance community that were collected in the week following Bird’s passing. We wish in this time of loss to acknowledge and celebrate their art and artistry, but please know this is only a small glimpse into the work they completed in their time in Seattle and by no means a complete archive.
For those able to contribute there is a GoFundMe to help with Bird’s afterlife care. Additionally, be on the lookout for a day of remembrance to be scheduled at Cornish College of the Arts.
“Bird’s Remedies for Aching Bones kicked off the second act with an eerie and lavish world of sequins, painted horse figurines, knickknacks, and kimono-like robes. Three women lounged in front of a mirrored vanity table, dressed in outlandish getups (think fur and lingerie covered in large pom-poms) and overdone make-up, gold legs, and platinum blonde bobs. Each dancer took her turn at the front of the stage, displaying sultry strength in mesmerizing and creepily unnatural movements, emphasized by Andrew Powell’s sound design. Remedies was like Mean Girls with washed-up alien divas…Bird’s exploration of the feminine seemed to point toward unease with objectification and the feminine capacity for destruction.”
– Excerpt from “Humor and Horror at Next Fest NW 2014” by Ciara McCormack, SeattleDances
“I held a great deal of admiration and respect for their spirit and unapologetic performance energy. the world lost a great artist.” -Nikolai Lesnikov
Above: Photos from Cornish students’ performance in Seattle Center on November 3, 2013. Submitted by Nikolai Lesnikov. Below: Process photos submitted by Makenzie Stone.
“Bird never knew I had to fight two other dance students to get them in my thesis dance piece at Cornish. I was impressed by their fierce presence when they took up space in the studio as a first year student. I am thankful to have gotten to share so much during this transitioning stage of each others lives. I think during the making of this piece we each grew more comfortable in our identities.” –Carla Negrete Martinez
Pictured left: Performing in Negrete Martinez’s work.
Below: Rehearsal photos from Babette McGeady’s 9andOne. 2012. Submitted by Makenzie Stone.
“I feel so grateful to have been a teacher and mentor to Bird while they were at Cornish. This era at Cornish was memorable and full of talented young artists committed to bringing their creative ideas to life.
Bird was a visionary, making ground breaking work while at Cornish and then creating provocative, impactful works as they transitioned into the Seattle dance community. They pushed boundaries, they worked across disciplines creating collaborative relationships with visual, film, theater, and sound artists.
Bird was an authentic, courageous artist who was devoted to the transformative possibilities of performance practice and world building. Bird created an evening-length immersive multi-media performance for their BFA capstone thesis that went beyond anything I’ve seen during the many years on faculty there. They were defiant in the best of ways, inhabiting an elaborate, expansive vision. Bird found their way into a new Cornish building pre-renovation that began as a rough and ragged space. They transformed that vacant space into a multi-part installation and performance called, Effigies of My Own Mortality. Walls were intentionally designed with color and text, dancers were painted, words written and recited, and performers dropped into states of being that were mesmerizing. The audience followed performers through the broken-down halls and rooms that were collaged in textiles of pinks and sequins.
I weep thinking about it. When art has an impact, it matters, it transforms.
Thank you, Bird, for your fierce unapologetic being and making.
Part of Bird’s senior BFA project was also a solo I made on them called, you never look me in the eyes, I never look you in the eyes. I spent many hours in the studio witnessing Bird move, freeze, resist, struggle, realize, change, and continue to come into themselves. These kinds of collaborations are what enliven me as an artist – the exchange is deep, intimate, scary, and transformative. As part of this solo, Bird spoke in quick repetition the text of the title, “You never look me in the eyes, I never look you in the eyes.” Over the years the intonation of their voice speaking it is something I replay in my mind often.
And at this moment of grief and loss, Bird’s fierce soft voice is with me again.
Thank you, Bird, for Staying With.
Lastly, I can speak to a site-specific piece I made called, Beneath Our Own Immensity.
In this work, Bird traversed down a dusty path, rolling, falling, rising, throwing dust clouds of dirt into the air. This work continues to touch me because of the ferocity, abandonment, realness, and vulnerability of working in such a raw site with Bird and this group of dancers. We went rogue, we stepped out of the confines of time limits, dance spaces, and institutional tidiness and made work that mattered to all of us.
Thank you, Bird, for leading with such abandon.
Thank you, Bird, for defying all expectations of the “right ways” to make art, and instead stepping into being exactly YOU.”
“I remember them as someone whose mind was so quick, so deep, and so intricate. I met them when I was shy and naive and they always spoke their mind into whatever process we were doing. I always admired that, they inspired me to speak up and to stand up. They once made these beautiful aura cards for the cast of Bodies of Water. They captured us so well. To this day it is the best gift I have ever received.” –Sabina Moe
Below: Photos from Alice Gosti and Nikolai Lesnikov