Competition: US & Canada
Jo Kreiter is a San Francisco-based choreographer and site artist with a background in political science. Through dance she engages imagination, physical innovation and the political conflicts we live within. She founded Flyaway Productions in 1996. Flyaway is an apparatus-based dance company that explores the range and power of female physicality. Flyaway creates dances on both architectural and fabricated steel objects, with dancers suspended anywhere from 2 to 100 feet in the air. The company uses the artistry of spinning, flying, and exquisite suspension to engage political issues and to articulate the experiences of unseen women. The company creates a sense of spectacle to make a lasting impression with an audience, striving for the right balance of awe, provocation, and daring. Kreiter’s tools include community collaboration, a masterful use of place, an intersectional feminist lens and a body-based push against the constraints of gravity.
Recent awards include a Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship (2017-2019); the New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project Creation Grant (2017-2020); the California Arts Council’s Creative California’s Communities Award (2017-2019), a Creative Work Fund Grant (2018-2020) and a YBCA 100 award.
Additionally, Kreiter/Flyaway is a recipient of five Isadora Duncan Dance Awards; awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rainin Foundation, the CA Arts Council, the SF Arts Commission, the SF Neighborhood Arts Collaborative, SF Grants for the Arts , the Wattis Foundation, New Music USA, the Artist Investigator Project of the California Shakespeare Company, CHIME, the Center for Cultural Innovation, the Gerbode Foundation, Creative Work Fund, the MAP Fund, and the SF Bay Guardian GOLDIE Award. In the 2015 book, “Moving Sites: Investigating Site-Specific Dance Performances” by Victoria Hunter, Jo Kreiter’s work is highlighted as “the politically-driven work of the experienced and prolific site dance artists”.
Her articles have been published in the Winter 2019 GIA Reader, Aerial Dance, Contact Quarterly, In Dance, STREET ART San Francisco, and Site Dance.
She has taught dance residencies at UC Berkeley, USF, Sonoma State, Arizona State an Ohio State Universities. She is also the founder of GIRLFLY, an award-winning dance and activism program addressing the lack of arts training opportunities and gender-specific social pressures faced by low-income teen girls.
I don’t make policy. But I do effect places and the people who dwell in those places. I create spectacular events in public space that invite people to pause, delight in, contemplate and act. I make dances in unlikely places, activating the sides of buildings above bleak city streets. Discarded needles. Unhoused bodies lining sidewalks. Urine and feces on the curb. This is where I practice. My dances impact because they unfold at the very place where conflict lives. For me, a building is a witness. It holds the complexity of a neighborhood in its steel I-beams or concrete walls. I’ve brought thousands of people to sites of historic and ongoing conflict.
As a political science major, I studied coalitions in the U.S., Latin America and Africa that brought about significant political change. I’ve modeled my arts organization’s coalition building on the ideals and effectiveness of civil rights movements whose participants work primarily in the political realm. As a dance artist, I’ve chosen to layer in the motional body as an additional, essential catalyst for social change.
I’ve spent 25 years building coalitions with women marginalized by gender, race, class and workplace inequities. I root public art inside the process of political change. I’ve worked in partnership with Tradeswomen Inc., UC Hastings Center for Work/Life Law, Local 2, and the Labor Archives and Research Center. I’ve collaborated with journalist Rose Aguilar; trans activist Honey Mahogany; composers Pamela Z and Vân-Ánh Võ, and a multiracial team of dancers.
I’m part of Bay Area aerial dance lineage created by Joanna Haigood, Terry Sendgraff, and Master Lui Yee. To this lineage I bring new ways to ride space, using a defiance of gravity to subvert limitations, and claim public space as a proving ground for women.
Profile photograph by Suzanne Kreiter