My primary tool in making dance is deconstruction. I break down movement to get at strangeness and to excavate a voice closer to the bone. I break down movement to push against the traditions of white formalism that have shaped me. I break down movement to create a space where freedom can arise.
Poetry can unmake the self that culture has made. Poetry can create space for a self that does not yet exist. When I speak of poetry, I speak of dance. Making a dance feels like doing a million close readings of the body.
Hope Mohr is a choreographer, curator and writer. She trained at S.F. Ballet School and on scholarship at the Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown Studios in New York City. She performed in the companies of dance pioneers Lucinda Childs and Trisha Brown. Passionate about pursuing both community organizing and dance, Mohr earned a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was a Columbia Human Rights Fellow. In 2007, Mohr returned to San Francisco to establish Hope Mohr Dance to create, present and foster outstanding art at the intersection of the body and the brain. HMD's signature curatorial platform The Bridge Project approaches curating as community organizing to convene equity-driven cultural conversations.
Mohr makes work that “conveys emotional and socio-political contents that just ride underneath the surface of a rigorous vocabulary.” (Dance View Times). Her “insistently inventive” choreography (East Bay Express) brings dance in dialogue with other disciplines such as visual art and literature. Her body of work features innovative collaborations with acclaimed visual artists such as Liam Everett, Ranu Mukherjee, and Matthew Ritchie. Her work has been presented by Highways Performance Space (LA), di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art (Sonoma), Moody Center for the Arts (Houston), SFMOMA, ODC Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Montalvo Arts Center, and many others.
Mohr has held artist residencies at Stanford Arts Institute, ODC Theater, Montalvo Arts Center, Petronio Residency Center, and the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature and Dance. She was named to the YBCA 100 in 2015 and was a 2016 Fellow at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. In 2014, Dance Magazine editor-in-chief Wendy Perron named Mohr as one of the “women leaders” in the dance field. HMD is currently a company in residence at ODC Theater.
Mohr writes regularly about the arts; her conversation with painter Liam Everett on practice was published in Liam Everett: Without an Audience and her essay “Choreographic Transmission in an Expanded Field: Reflections on Ten Artists Respond to Trisha Brown’s Locus,” was published in The Drama Review.
2017 was the 10th anniversary of Hope Mohr Dance. Hope Mohr founded the company after performing around the world with a number of pioneers of modern dance, including Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, and Margaret Jenkins. She trained at San Francisco Ballet School and on scholarship at the Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown Studios in New York. While dancing in New York, Mohr also freelanced with Liz Gerring, Douglas Dunn, Trajal Herrell, and Pat Catterson.
HMD is currently a company in residence at ODC. In 2018, Hope Mohr Dance will be the first resident in the Petronio Residency Center's Community Partnership Program. Mohr recently held open rehearsals at SFMOMA as part of painter Liam Everett's 2017 SECA Award exhibit. In 2014, Dance Magazine editor-in-chief Wendy Perron named Mohr as one of the “women leaders” in the dance field. In 2015, Mohr was named to the YBCA 100, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' annual nationwide list of artists posing important questions about contemporary culture. She was a 2016 YBCA Fellow, part of a cohort of artists and activists asking "How do we design freedom?" Mohr has enjoyed residencies at the Stanford Arts Institute, ODC Theater and ODC's Sandbox Series; Montalvo Arts Center; and Jennifer Monson’s Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature and Dance. She was a two-time participant in Choreographers in Mentorship Exchange, a program of the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, with mentor Dana Reitz (2014) and Molissa Fenley (2009). In 2015, Mohr co-directed a sold out, extended run of Anne Carson's Antigonick with Mark Jackson for Shotgun Players in Berkeley. In 2005 she assisted Lucinda Childs on Dr. Atomic for S.F. Opera. Mohr's 2016 Bridge Project was nominated, with Diane Madden, for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for the Reconstruction of Trisha Brown's Locus; in 2010, Mohr and poet Brenda Hillman were nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for their collaboration on Far From Perfect (2010).
In 2018, Mohr has commissioned projects at the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art in Sonoma County and the Moody Center for the Arts in Houston. Since her 1994 choreographic debut in ODC’s Pilot 13, Mohr's work has been presented and/or commissioned by a wide range of cultural institutions, including Highways Performance Space (LA), Gallery Wendi Norris, Movement Research at Judson Church (NYC), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Shotgun Players, San Francisco International Arts Festival, West Wave Festival, CounterPulse, Montalvo Arts Center, ODC Theater, Stanford University, Motion Pacific, Lines Ballet BFA Program, and the S.F. VA Hospital’s Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation. Mohr has also shown her work at City Center Studios (New York), Alvin Ailey Studios (New York), Velocity (Seattle), The Mouth (Portland).
Published writing includes:
Choreographic Transmission in an Expanded Field: Reflections onTen Artists Respond to Trisha Brown's Locus, TDR (February 2018/forthcoming)
About Practice: A Conversation between Liam Everett and Hope Mohr, in Liam Everett: Without An Audience, (Altman Siegel 2018)
The Language of the Listening Body, Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory (July 2007)
the body is the brain (ongoing blog)
She has taught dance around the world, including at the London School of Contemporary Dance, P.A.R.T.S. in Brussels, UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures, Stanford University, and the Trisha Brown Studio. Mohr is currently on faculty with the American Conservatory Theater’s MFA program.
Mohr's work has received support from:
NEA, California Arts Council, San Francisco's Grants for the Arts, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Andrew M. Mellon Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation (Investing in Tomorrow Grant and Creative Capacity Fund), Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Sakana Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Lighting Artists in Dance and CA$H/Dancers Group.
San Francisco Arts Commission
Headlands Institute for the Arts
Dancers Group CA$H Grant
Stanford Alumni Arts Grant
Zellerbach Family Foundation.
J.D. Columbia Law School