‘BorgLaura’ Laura Swedenborg


Laura Swedenborg (BORG) is a dance and performance artist from Ashtabula, Ohio. An alum of North Carolina School of the Arts, she has performed professionally since the year 2000 with credits in Erie PA, NYC, Cincinnati, Buffalo NY, and Cleveland OH. She presents original work in collaboration with sound artists, musicians, and other creative artists in art galleries, installations, art museums, on stage, in Metroparks and other public spaces. Her Butoh practice is supported by a soul sister group “the birds who walk at night” who practice together and occasionally present performances around Cleveland. Swedenborg has taught since 1998 for Ashtabula Arts Center, Chromatic Dance and SOMA movement arts in Erie, Cleveland Flow Collective, and unofficially within her Butoh community in Cleveland. (here add “Butoh itself…”)

“Butoh comes to Michigan in Laura Swedenborg’s latest untitled work. According to her bio, Swendenborg views butoh as a dance that can be found at the intersection of stage, public performance and spiritual practice. Her dance, hypnotically slow, glacially patient and beautifully grotesque, holds true to these values. Wearing a white dress and covered in white paint from her bald head to the bottoms of her feet, Swedenborg dips her foot into a cone of light descending from the ceiling. She tilts her chin up to the light, lip twitching. Her head droops to her shoulder as her knees buckle in slow motion, jutting her hip to one side. Her movement and dress gives the appearance of a haunted babydoll. She may be very old, or very young, or emaciated, or porcelain, or animal. Her fingers shake to the far off reverberations of a Stacey Pickering sound bath. Swedenborg curls in on herself, her elbows akimbo. She coils and contorts. Micro quakes vibrate through her face and shoulders. The audience sits in silence, seemingly entranced by Swedenborg’s astounding patience.”
from a review of RADfest in Art Interceps march 2023.

Photos by Robyn Hoing
My coaching involves a Butoh approach to movement improvisation utilizing stillness, vision, muscle tension and muscle release, to quiet the frontal lobe and find authentic body expression. Butoh itself began onstage from modern dancers in Japan in the 1950s, and has found popularity in the West in more recent years among dancers, actors, and other humans seeking a deeper connection to themselves and the energies of Earth. While expressions of Butoh can sometimes appear grotesque and even painful, practitioners report experiences of freedom, joy, and the exquisite. What is Butoh? A question without an answer ?

Laura Swedenborg’s Dancing Woodland Flora Workshop:

How does it feel to be a leaf? a mushroom? a fern? a tree? a patch of moss on a rock? We enter the woods. I lead an eyes-open meditation in which we move our bodies ever so slowly and tune into the plant and fungal lives around us. By the end each student has chosen their specific flora aspect to become. We use practices from Japanese art form Butoh to move from our human self towards a woodland essence. In performance we would recreate our mini-woods as a movement improvisation. Ideally this performance would occur at grandmother Oak, not on the stage, however it could of course be staged. I would love if we could be paired with a group doing vocalizations, and / or sounds from singing bowls, chimes, squeeze boxes, gongs, or non-rhythmic percussion instruments.

Laura Swedenborg’s Visceral Performance Art Workshop:

An invitation to adventurous performers, Let’s co-create a dramatic performance art piece! Make your individual expression in a supportive group context. From the traditions of absurdist theater in France and Japan, make sense through nonsense. I will utilize techniques from Japanese movement theatre form Butoh to encourage expressing raw emotion with our bodies, voices, and breath. We will see who we are and what we have to express, then find the form through which to express it. Participants are asked to bring a prop of some sort to respond to. Anything from an article of clothing, to a treasured keepsake, to something you found on the land. Musical instruments welcome. The group performance will contain an opportunity for each performer to shine on stage. What will be we will create together. We will accompany ourselves / each other. (A variation on this workshop works from poetry, with poets, and is performed with the poems, spoken or sung.)