Written by Morgan Bernat (MFA candidate)
Based on an interview with Mariah Maloney (Assistant Professor)
As students we often have the pleasure of hearing about our professor’s lives outside of the university. I had the opportunity to sit down with Professor Mariah Maloney not once, but twice in the last year and a half to discuss her travels and experiences as a performer and educator. In the winter of 2014 Mariah traveled to the Theatre Academy Helsinki for three weeks to work with two different groups at their academy. This is the second time she has had the opportunity to travel to Finland for this particular program and she is deeply invested in a bi-annual trip to continue the development of this program.
Her first two weeks were spent with their MA students; spending each day deeply invested in somatic practices, technique, and finishing off with Trisha Brown Repertory. At the end of her two weeks, the students had the opportunity to perform for the college what they had learned thus far with Mariah. Her last week was spent with the academy’s pedagogy students, she had the incredibly rich opportunity to teach teachers using her work with Trisha Brown as a starting point.
While a similar program could have been just as fulfilling within the United States, it was the Finnish people that she found to be so incredible. Mariah reflects on their deep thinking, quiet demeanor, and profound sense of themselves within the world. It was within the intensive environment sans interruption that she found a deep fruitful experience that brought her back to The College at Brockport feeling refreshed and excited.
Mariah was then invited to attend the FIDIC IV Festival Internacional de Danza Cocoa in September of 2014 in Argentina; an invigorating way to kick off the school year. This trip, however, differed from her trip to Finland in that she was traveling as a choreographer and was able to perform her own work. Along with performing four of her own pieces, she was able to teach for part of her day as part of the festival incorporating her work as well as Trisha Brown’s influence. What was immediately apparent in speaking with her about this trip was the excitement and spark the performance experience had given her. The four pieces were solos that she had made over the last five years. Three of those four solos were based on a structured improvisation; one dance leading into the next. When asked what was the most challenging part of performing four solos in a row, Mariah spoke of the mental transition between each piece as well as the vital need to be present on all levels; physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally.
Another difference that Mariah found interesting to navigate was the language barrier that was not present when traveling to Finland. In Argentina she had a translator present everywhere that she went. This proved to be an interesting teaching experience; however, she felt lucky upon realizing her translator in the classroom was a somatic practitioner.
As a student of Mariah’s for the last six years of my life, I’ve learned that while words are important, it is your physical body that speaks the loudest. I find her experience to be a direct example of how true this is and lucky that as her student, I get to continue learning from her even in her absence.
(Photo from Irish Solo)