Elliot Reza Emadian is a gender-nonconforming interdisciplinary artist, teacher, and scholar. Their work occurs in the intersection of dance and choreography, video art and editing, sound and music, light and photography, and popular culture.
“My mama told me when I was young, conform or die.”
Perhaps I’m misremembering or conflating Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” with my own life, I certainly wasn’t allowed to wear lipstick when I was young…
My work manifests a dense, saturated future where we dexterously wield our hypervisibility. It is a bridge toward the end of time, in which the manifold of the mainstream is revealed in vibrant LED light.
At the intersections of dance, pop music, image, and text, popular culture iterates itself into existence. My conception of the world emerges in relation to this web, informed by a spatial and temporal critique from choreographic practice. I drown in the mediated aesthetics to which I am drawn—contemporary television, pop music and music videos, experimental video art, social media “branding,” poetic structure—and I cling to mathematical structure and systemic critique as a lifeline. My artistic praxis functions as a medium for (food) processing the contemporary moment and my place within it. I track time ticking through past and future, fixating on the webbed patterns that give rise to form and trope.
My primary medium, choreography functions as an algorithmic, scalar practice through which humanness is magnified, confounded, and transcended. This conception is deeply informed by my life as a gender non-conforming queer person. I create structures in which my individuality, that of my collaborators, and that of our materials churn together, foregrounding the possibility for the “dance” to convene in the moment of performance and viewership. My multidisciplinary practice gives form to a queer choreography iterating below the omnipresent artifice of singularity. Structure and form provide scaffolding to zoom in on these interstices. Viewership itself becomes another material for consideration as a means of coming to terms with the fact that performance “onstage” and “offstage” are one and the same.
I honor idiosyncrasy and challenge us to listen for new potentials: of movement, of making, of being, of relating.
Elliot has presented their choreographic work all through the Midwest and East Coast including at the Ailey Citigroup Theater and Abrons Arts Center in Manhattan, NY, the Center for Performance Research and Triskelion Center for the Arts in Brookyln, NY, and the Boston Center for the Arts. Most recently, their duet Here we go again (2019), created with significant contribution from Rachel Rizzuto, toured to Chicago, IL and Saint Louis, MO, before being adapted to a screendance for the 2020 Cleveland Dance Festival. Additionally, their choreography for live theatre has been seen at the Dick Van Dyke Auditorium, Agecroft Hall, and most recently in a production of Cabaret at the Krannert Center for the University of Illinois. As a performer, Elliot has performed in repertory works by Charlotte Boye-Christensen, danah bella, and original works by Jennifer Monson, Sara Hook, Jenefer Davies, Evvie Allison, Mauriah Kraker, Rachel Rizzuto, and Charlie Maybee.
Alongside their choreographic work, Elliot released a full-length pop album in 2016 (selftalk) under the moniker Elliot Reza. They went on to study songwriting with Drs. Julie Jordan Gunn and Stephen Taylor and have since self-produced and released 6 follow-up singles and companion videos for each song. Their video work explores the choreographic uses of video art. Elliot has designed lights for numerous dance performances including their own work. They have an active photography practice that includes portraiture and dance photography. They recently developed an interest in costume design as well, designing the costumes for Back Quarter Time Turn (2019) before going on to study experimental fashion design with Susan Becker. Elliot‘s written research also appears in publications including Integers, Electronic Journal of Combinatorial Number Theory and PARtake, The Journal of Performance as Research (V.3 I.1)