Jennifer Monson is a choreographer, performer and teacher. Since 1983, she has explored strategies in choreography, improvisation and collaboration in experimental dance. In 2000, her work took a radical new trajectory towards investigating the relationship between movement and environment. This ongoing research has led her into inquiries of cultural and scientific understandings of large-scale phenomena such as animal navigation and migration, geological formations such as aquifers and re-functioned sites such as the abandoned Ridgewood Reservoir. These studies provide the means to unearth and inquire into choreographed and embodied ways of knowing and re-imagining our relationship to the environments and spaces humans/all beings inhabit. Her projects BIRD BRAIN (2000-2005), iMAP/Ridgewood Reservoir (2007) and the Mahomet Aquifer Project (2008-2010), SIP (sustained immersive process)/watershed are investigations that have radically reframed the role dance plays in our cultural understandings of nature and wilderness. Her current work Live Dancing Archive proposes that choreography itself is an archival practice for environmental phenomena. Her early choreography has been performed in a diverse array of recognized national and international venues in addition to noted New York City venues including: The Kitchen, Performance Space 122 and Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church. She has collaborated with Zeena Parkins, DD Dorvillier, Yvonne Meier, David Zambrano and other interdisciplinary artists. Her multi-year project BIRD BRAIN received funding from MAP Fund, New York Foundation for the Arts BUILD grant, Creative Capital Foundation, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Jerome Foundation, New England LEF Foundation, Altria Group, Inc., National Dance Project, National Performance Network, the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She has received fellowships from the NEA, New York Foundation for the Arts and The Lambent Foundation and the Foundation for Contemporary Art. She has received two New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards — one for sustained achievement in the field and one for BIRD BRAIN. Monson was also an inaugural recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Award.
In 2004, Monson incorporated under the name iLAND — Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature, and Dance. iLAND explores the power of dance in collaboration with other fields to illuminate a kinetic understanding of the world. This dance research organization upholds a fundamental commitment to environmental sustainability as it relates to art and the urban context and cultivates cross-disciplinary research among the arts, environmental science, urban design and other related fields. In addition to serving as Artistic Director of iLAND, Monson is currently a Professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as part of a new initiative of the Environmental Council. Monson is also a Professor at Large at the University of Vermont, a six-year term in collaboration with the Dance, Environmental Studies and Library Departments.