Byron Suber

Senior Lecturer

Summary

Byron Suber is originally from New Orleans, LA, and moved to Ithaca in 1991 after ten years of living and working in New York City. His work there included choreography, music, theatre, costume design and performance art. His pieces have been  exhibited at La MAMA Inc., Performance Space 122, the Kitchen, DANSPACE, the American Dance Festival and The Wigstock music festival. He has received grants and awards from the Harkness Foundation, Art Matters Inc., New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Cornell Council for the Arts. He has taught at the American Dance Festival at Duke University, Dance Space and Steps, in NYC, as well as various universities in the States, France, Italy, Ireland and Spain. Since coming to Cornell he has continued to create work in dance and theatre as well as entering the realm of digital sound and visual media, for instance in collaboration with professors and students from MIT on a pair of digitally wired sneakers that produced music when the dancer moved. At Cornell, Suber teaches ballet and modern technique, yoga, dance history and criticism, dance composition, and digital media. Outside of his position in the Department of Performing and Media Arts, he completed a M.A in the History of Architecture and Urbanism in the School of Art, Architecture and Planning at Cornell.

In his architectural history work, in looking for a site for study where the moving (or immobilized) body is inescapably bound to architecture, his present project titled, Unreconciled Spaces: a Poetics of Incarceration, considered the ways in which prison space behaves as a persistent metaphor while engaging the body as a specific form of cultural production. This requires an exploration of how the body and the carceral environment intersect within urban space, domestic space, and theatrical space, specifically in the sphere of cinematic expression. Continuing his research, he is exploring American and European national identities as influenced by non-white bodies, particularly when juxtaposed to modern spatialities in American, Italian, French and North African films and urban spaces. Additionally, he is working on a book titled Strebtopia that considers the philosophical implications of the work of choreographer Elizabeth Streb. He is also working on a textbook titled Identity and Ideology in Classical Ballet. This text considers the history of western classical dance as it both perpetuated and confronted western ideology in the realms of race, class, gender and sexuality. In 2005, through Cornell, Suber developed a summer program in Performance and Media Studies in Rome, Italy. Since then the program expanded to include parallel programs in Dublin, Ireland, Barcelona Spain and Paris and Marseilles, France.

Research Focus

  • Byron Suber's work encompasses projects in performance (ballet/modern technique, yoga, movement composition, dance and technology and dance history in the context of cultural studies) and interfaces with the study of cinema, architectural/urban history and social theory. He is a creative artist in the realms of choreography and experimental video, music and theatre, as well as an historian in the fields of dance and architecture. As a choreographer he works in the genres of ballet, modern, and dance theatre. As an historian his areas of interest are French History 1600-present, Italy from antiquity through modernity, History of Russia and Soviet Union, French, Italian and Spanish Colonialism, French, Italian and American Global Cinemas, the Global South, and Carceral Histories, Modernism, Classicism, Urban Planning, and the History of Classical Ballet
  • Suber's present creative projects engage in the development of performance work in both body movement and vocalization and incorporates digital video projections and sound design. For several years, Suber has been working with William Forsythe's system of movement development elaborated in Forsythe's "Improvisation Technologies".
  • Suber continues to work with a related system of movement development he created in the mid 90's incorporating work he has done with Cornell Engineering Professor Emeritus Francis C. Moon, Joseph C. Ford Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Moon is the Curator of the Cornell Collection of Reuleaux Kinematic Models (http://kmoddl.library.cornell.edu/). This is the most extensive collection of kinematic models created in the 19th century demonstrating basic elements of mechanical motion. Suber  also works with architectural students working in scenic design, digital sound and image design, and who also create architectural interventions focusing on framing body movements in various locations around Ithaca and beyond. Most of Suber's creative work culminates in a full performance in March of each year in the theatrical frame of a Kiplinger proscenium theatre, with developmental performances each preceding December as well as presenting work in cities such as New Orleans, Paris, Rome, New York and Philadelphia.
  • A course Suber developed titled, "50's Movie Musicals and Modernism" explores and expands on the cultural product of Utopia, particularly the darkness within the lightness of movie musicals, the ways in which the tensions between stage and screen, but also cinema and television, produced a preoccupation with tenets of Modernism essentially predicting what Suber refers to as a "pre-post-modern" aesthetic. The course focuses specifically on Modernism in Dance and Architecture and worked towards deconstructing notions of modernism as it relates to concepts of folk art and primitivism.
  • In his Masters thesis in History of Architecture and Urbanism, The Poetics of Incarceration, Suber is looking to explore the nefarious claim of several of America's founding fathers that a new form of carceral space, that necessitated a shift in ideology,  was a component of a new form of government and the ways in which that claim includes an assertion that America's first prisons influenced prison building on a global scale. Further exploration in the project is to bring to light the way cinema and television have aided in a dissemination of prison culture, the result of which is pervasive citizen complicity in a racist, classist system of oppression.
  • Suber continues to explore his interest in Utopia as a literary genre, architecture genre while proposing a similar categorization for Western concert dance while working to decenter the west as the location of embodied performance. Looking to the position of master of choreography, a modernist notion, the isolated worlds of Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine will be closely examined as possible utopias in comparison to self proclaimed utopias in other fields.

Publications

Print

2018 “Musicalities and the Moving Body in Western Concert Dance” The Oxford Handbook of Music and the Body, Youn Kim and Sander Gilman, editors, Oxford University Press, NY, NY, 2018.

1998 "Antony Tudor." Notes, vol. 54, no. 4, 1998, p. 973+. Gale Academic Onefilehttps://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A20825584/AONE?u=nysl_sc_cornl&sid=AONE&xid=01884ce7

1996 "Bournonville Ballet Technique: Fifty Enchainements." Notes, vol. 53, no. 1, 1996, p. 133+. Gale Academic Onefilehttps://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A18909345/AONE?u=nysl_sc_cornl&sid=AONE&xid=0b93b789.

Papers delivered

2014 Crying and Not Crying: Abandon and Sensation in Embodied Performance, paper at World Picture: Abandon conference, Berlin, Germany

2013 edgeofthegorge, presentation/performance with Cornell students and alum, at World Picture: Willing conference, University of Toronto, Toronto

2012 Strebtopia: Laboratory for Action, paper at World Picture: ACTION conference. Sussex University, Brighton, UK

2012 Contemporary Encounters with William Forsythe. Cornell University

2011 Framing Theatre, Film and Dance, Cornell University

2010 Mid-Century Movie Musicals and Modernism: dance, cinema and architecture, delivered paper and organized conference at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

2009 Le Corbusier and Josephine Baker

African-Americans in Paris conference, delivered paper and organized conference at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

2008 Dragging Identity Through the Disciplines, American Comparative Literature Association Conference, Long Beach, California

2008 Dance, Architecture, Cinema and Modernism, delivered paper and organizer of conference of same name, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

2005 The Dance of the Machines, (lecture/performance in collaboration with mechanical engineer, Frank Moon) Light in Winter Festival Ithaca, NY

2004 Dance and Technology Curriculum, Dance Theatre Workshop, NYC

The Poetics of Incarceration, Disciplinary Bodies Conference, Department of Comparative Literature, Cornell University

2003 Living Just to the Left of Burlesque: human oddities and frailties, York University, UK, performance/lecture

1996 The Gism of the Isms: Ballet as Narrative, Mind and Memory Lecture Series, at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

1994 The Unavoidable Semiotics of the Arbitrary Duet, lecture/performance at West Sussex Institute, Bishop Otter College, Chichester, England

also at Portsmouth College, Portsmouth, England

also at Roehampton College, London, England

1993 Ballet as Ideology, ACDFA, Bates College, Lewiston Maine

also at Ballet Apetri, Covington, LA

Choreography

2020 the Eclipse part I, II, III, choreography  composed and edited three videos for virtual Locally Grown Dance concert

2020 Tunneling in Locally Grown Dance, choreography, video and sound editing and set in collaboration with AAP alum, Matt Gagnon ’96, through CCA grant,

2019 Tunneling solos, choreography for Mini Locally Grown Dance, Cornell University

2019  CODED-DATA:.H.OME.IS.W.(S)HE.ART.(S)HE.ART. IS.:ANALYSIS (full length choreography with video projections) LGD

2018 CODED-DATA:.H.OME.IS.W.(S)HE.ART.(S)HE.ART. IS.:ANALYSIS(excerpt) Mini-LGD

2018 Slivering and Slathering in LGD 

2017 Relentless Women (R)ejecting the Can(n)on (in 12 chapters) LGD in “Captured Spaces” 

2016 Piecing Together a Canon

2015 The Krewe of Doberge Ball

2015 Atmosphère? I'm Not Atmosphère!

2014 Ottoman Sectionals

2013 edgeofthegorge #6

2012 Bach (excerpts); Color Film Test #1 December 3-5. 2012; Nymamy March 7, 2012

2011 Fragments and Fractures II, Feb 12, 2011, Ithaca Ballet

2009 Fragments and Fractures, Cornell University May 6-8, 2010; Basic Black and Baby Blues Etudes; Doberge, Micadanses, Paris, France June 19, 2010, and at Cornell University May 6-8, 2010, and at Ithaca Ballet, Ithaca, NY January 27, 2010

2009 Bach Solo Cello Suite #1 March 3, 2009, Ithaca Ballet, Ithaca, NY

2008 Dvorak Piano Quintet...Modernized, May 1, 2008, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Dvorak Piano Quintet, February 5, 2008, Ithaca Ballet, Ithaca, NY

2007 Pulcinella Suite, November 20, 2007

2006 Bach Solo Cello Suite #1, February 17, 2006, Ithaca Ballet, Ithaca, NY

2005 That Sadness that Dissipates but Forever Remains Unresolved, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY May 5, 2005

2004 Gothic Mechanization Amidst Persistent Novelty, February 15, 2004, Johnson Museum, Cornell University; Reflections in an Eye of Titanium, March 10, 2004, Cornell University; Soundings, May 6, 2004, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

2001 Corelli, I, II, III, July 24, 2001, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Broken Heart III, May 5, 2001, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Broken Heart II, March 25, 2001, Frostburg State University, Frostburg Maryland; It’s More What I Don’t Say, March 5, 2001, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

2000 Broken Heart, December 5, 2000, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Bach Solo Cello Suite #1, Baton Rouge, LA; Pulcinella Suite, Covington, LA

1999 Shoesic, July 19, 1999 American Dance Festival, Duke University, Durham, NC; Enfolding RopesJuly 19, 1990, American Dance Festival, Duke University, Durham, NC

1998 Enfolded Rope, March 6, 1998, Cornell University; Disgrace, collaboration w. Jumay Chu March 6, 1998, Cornell University; Attack of the Floating World, the sequel, May 20, 1998, ADF, Duke, Durham, NC; Pulcinella SuiteJune 10, 1998, Roanoke Ballet Theater and Roanoke Opera, Roanoke, VA

1997 Sprinting Towards Void w/dog(s), July 12, 1997, ADF, Duke, Durham, NC; Chemically Disposed, July 24, 1997, ADF, Duke, Durham, NC; Untitled, Uncentered, Untended, Untendered (a ballet, March 14, 1997, Cornell University; Nude Tumbling Down StaircaseMarch 14, 1997, Cornell University

1996 The Gism From the Schism of the Isms: hey but where’s the egg mama?, Cornell University March 12, 1996

1995 Sprinting Towards Void w/dog, December 7, 1995; Fake Plastic TreesDecember 7, 1995; Big Stephie and ...March 15, 1995; An Immodest Medieval Romp, March 15, 1995, Cornell University

1994 The Violent Years of Hegel’s Feast, November 25, 1994, Performance Space 122, NY, NY; Attack of the Floating World, March 10, 1993, Cornell University; Tarzagna, January 20, 1994, Chichester, England

1993 Cry Baby, May 5, 1993; Conjugal Blisster (collaboration w/Joyce Morgenroth) March 12, 1993; The Epistemology of Female TroubleMarch 12, 1993, Cornell University

1992 Solo Finales for Materials Engineer, May 6, 1992; The Untitled Perfect Rose Etudes, May 6, 1992; Chopin Solo, May 6, 1992, Cornell University

1990 Because I Love (d) You II, December 7, 1990, Cornell University; Because I Love (d) You, November 29, 1990; I Want What You WantNovember 29, 1990, Kitchen, NY, NY; 42nd Street, Xavier High School

1989 Bye Bye Birdie, Xavier High School

1988 Because I Love You, September 28, 1988, Cunningham Space, NYC; Prokofiev’s One Etude for One BoyJune 17, 1988; Les Mysteres des Voix BulgaresJune 17, 1988, St Francis Xavier Rectory; Hello Dolly, St Francis Xavier High School, NY, NY

1987 Cher and Cher Alike, August 21, 1987, Triplex Theatre, NY, NY; Camelot, Xavier High, NYC

1986 Bad Timing, June 26, 1986, Triplex Theatre, NY, NY

1985 Bach Solo Cello Suite #1February 22, 1985; Dvorak Pas de DeuxFebruary 22, 1985, Ft, Wayne, IN

1982 Go Go Barocco, June 12, 1882, Delta Festival, New Orleans, LA

1978 The Absent Minded Fairy, April 23, 1978, Asphodel Plantation, LA; Lucy Ricardo Blues Suite, February 7, 1978, Baton Rouge, LA

1977 Disco Wizard of Oz, December 4, 1977, Baton Rouge, LA

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