University of Calgary

Melanie Kloetzel

  • Professor

Research Interests



Melanie Kloetzel, an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary, holds a PhD in Dance Studies from the University of Roehampton, an MFA in Dance from the University of California at Riverside in addition to a BA and an MA in History from Swarthmore College and the University of Montana, respectively.

Kloetzel is the artistic director of kloetzel&co., which she founded in New York in 1997 and which has traveled with her across the United States and now into Canada. kloetzel&co. has performed in New York at such venues as Danspace at St. Mark’s Church, Movement Research at Judson Church, The Flea Theater, and the Clark Studio Theater at Lincoln Center, as well as internationally at the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia, On the Boards in Seattle, the University of Victoria, the California Museum of Photography in Riverside, CA, Dancers’ Studio West in Calgary, the Horizons Concert Series in Flagstaff, AZ, and the Fluid and Feats Festivals in Alberta.
Since its inception, kloetzel&co. has moved between theatres and more unconventional sites, seeking out distinctive spaces and artistic collaborations along the way. Kloetzel’s film works have been shown at such competitive film festivals as the Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema in Colorado, the DANSCAMDANSE Festival in Belgium, the Northwest New Works PodFest at On the Boards in Seattle, the Danca em Foco Festival in Brazil, and the Festival Internacional de Videodanza del Uruguay, among others.

Kloetzel has received grants/awards from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Brooklyn Arts Council, the NYC 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, the Gateway Technology Initiative, and the Movement Research Exchange program. She was also a 2003 recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellowship Award from The University of California.

Kloetzel has performed nationally and internationally with such artists as Ann Carlson, Leah Stein, and Kim Arrow and was a member of Race Dance under the direction of Lisa Race from 1995-2000.

Kloetzel was the Director of the Dance program at Idaho State University from 2004 - 2007. Her research has been published in numerous books/journals and her anthology, Site Dance: Choreographers and the Lure of Alternative Spaces, edited with Carolyn Pavlik, is currently available from the University Press of Florida.


Jump to:
Choreography & Performance
Publications & Presentations
Dance on Film

For my research endeavors, I am captivated by context. Whether that context is architectural, virtual, literary, or musical, I find myself engrossed by the movement that lives in both abstract and concrete contexts. I work to discover the idiosyncrasies embodied in these contexts on scales from the individual to the global.

Recent choreographic projects for kloetzel&co. examine context in diverse ways. For the past ten years, I have been creating site-specific performances in local venues, focusing on the layered history of unique spaces. I have presented site-specific performances in and around the California Museum of Photography in Riverside, CA, in an orchard in Ponteix, Saskatchewan, and at a defunct railway station and early 20th century hotel in Pocatello, Idaho, among others. Other explorations have taken me on a site-specific journey through the Plus 15 Skywalk System in Calgary (The Sanitastics) as well as into the realm of site-adaptive work on a square of artificial turf (Dwindling Dispute TKO). Both of these projects have resulted in films that have been screened internationally. Other projects have the company exploring the context of Lewis Carroll’s writings from the 1860s for the evening-length piece The Alice Odyssey, late 20th century clarinet compositions for the evening-length collaboration, Icarus Refried, with American clarinetist John Masserini, as well as literary works such as The Canterbury Tales, Euripides’ The Trojan Women, and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.

My scholarship also delves into the relation between movement and context. Because dance’s relation to space approaches a “meta-use” of space beyond conventional, everyday functionality, it can draw us down new corridors in search of movements and theories that speak to context on multiple scales. My recent anthology, Site Dance: Choreographers and the Lure of Alternative Space, co-edited with Carolyn Pavlik from Western Michigan University, delves into site-specific performance as emblematic of the movement/context relation. This anthology is currently available through the University Press of Florida. In my other published and presented papers, I examine theories of site-specificity, urban planning, collaborative arts, dance and film, issues of space and place in relation to the body, and the links between dance, human rights, and globalization.

Choreography & Performance

Recent Works created for kloetzel&co.


Dwindling Dispute TKO A 15-minute site-adaptive duet based on the Red Queen/White Queen dialogue from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. Performed on an 8’ x 8’ square of artificial turf. Presented by Springboard Performance at the containR site as part of the Fluid Festival in Calgary as well as selected for the CORD/SDHS conference in Riverside, CA where it was performed as a site-adaptive work at the Culver Center.

The Alice Odyssey (excerpts) A 10-minute group work created for members of kloetzel&co. and the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre for presentation by DUSK Dances in Withrow Park, Toronto.

TESTament (a progressing work) An 11-minute duet created in collaboration with Deanne Walsh and presented through the ReLoCate movement collective as part of The Experiment #1 at Festival Hall, Calgary, AB. Music by The Red Army Choir, the Benedictine Nuns of Saint-Michel de Kergonan, and the Putney Dandridge Orchestra. Text by Melanie Kloetzel and Deanne Walsh with excerpts from Virginia Woolf.


Tragedy, a sequel A 20-minute work based on Euripides’ The Trojan Women, created as a guest artist for 11 students at the University of Calgary. Script adapted from Jean-Paul Sartre and Edith Hamilton. Music by Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Resonanz, Ethel, Django Reinhardt, Stephen Welcher, Piso Spiess, David Lang.


Fierce Indulgence The 11-minute selection from Icarus Refried was selected for a lecture/demonstration at the Congress on Research in Dance conference in Philadelphia.

The Dwindling Dispute A 10-minute selection from The Alice Odyssey presented by DUMBO Dance Festival in New York. Text by Lewis Carroll. Costumes by Tracy Murray.

Icarus Refried An evening-length work created by kloetzel&co. in collaboration with John Masserini and presented by the Horizons Concert Series and the Department of Theatre at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. Collaborators included poet Derek Beaulieu.

The Alice Odyssey An evening-length work presented at Dancers’ Studio West in Calgary. Text by Melanie Kloetzel and Lewis Carroll. Costumes by Tracy Murray. Included an added matinee after 3 sold-out performances.


Leeching Achilles A 20-minute work created as a guest artist on nine University of Calgary students as part of the Mainstage Dance series.


From Terezin to M31 The third section (30-minutes) of The Alice Odyssey, presented by Dancers’ Studio West in Calgary as part of the Artist-in-Residence program. Collaborators included Tracy Murray, costumes, and Lisa Borin, set installation, and seven dancers. Text by Melanie Kloetzel, Dorothy Allison, and Lewis Carroll.

Icarus Fried An evening-length performance created by kloetzel&co. in collaboration with American clarinetist, John Masserini. The evening included two premiere works (Custard, Dream of Chicken and Fierce Indulgence) as well as the film and live versions of Icarus Fried. Collaborators included poet Derek Beaulieu and visual artist Kristin Smith with compositions by Joan Tower, Robert Cogan, David Eagle, and Eric Mandat. Presented by the University of Calgary Dance Program Series.


The Sanitastics A 10-minute live version of a dance film. Presented by Performance Creation Canada as part of a site-specific walking panel in Calgary, AB.

Windblown/Rafales Created a 15-minute duet section and a 6-minute group section for a large-scale, 3-hour, site-specific production by Knowhere Productions, Inc. in Ponteix, Saskatchewan.

Alice Unraveled A 16-minute piece created for eight students as a guest artist for the Mainstage production at the University of Calgary. Poetry by Sina Queyras. Music: Aceyalone, Jennifer Higdon, Dungen, Shostakovich, Hamster Theatre, and Deerhoof.


Smile Capital USA A 9-minute solo commissioned by the Fluid Festival. Premiere: Auburn Bar, Calgary. Also presented by the U of C Program of Dance for Dance @ Night and the Feats Festival in Edmonton, AB. Film work Melanie Kloetzel. Music: Ladytron, Telepopmusik.

The Gate City: Rail Town Reflections An evening-length site-specific performance at the Union Pacific Depot and the Hotel Yellowstone. Performed by company members, students, and community members in Pocatello, ID. The performance incorporated live music, movement, spoken word, and film inspired by the site.

Out from Under A 7-minute piece created with poet Bethany Schultz and performed on Art Walk, a celebration of art in downtown Pocatello. Premiere: Old Town Pocatello Building. Music: Edith Piaf. Poems: Maxine Chernoff and Sharon Olds.


Caper A 10-minute piece for two dancers created in collaboration with filmmaker Jeff Curtis and clarinetist John Masserini. Premiere: It’s OK…No One’s Looking at Idaho State University. Also presented by On the Boards in Seattle in the Northwest New Works Festival.

Icarus Fried A 9-minute piece created in collaboration with clarinetist John Masserini. Premiere: It’s OK…No One’s Looking at Idaho State University. Also presented by On the Boards in Seattle at the Northwest New Works Festival and by the Collision Symposium at the University of Victoria. Invited to perform the work and discuss the collaborative process of creation at the Arts and Sciences Research Day at ISU.

It’s OK…no one’s looking An evening-length program of collaborative works for two dancers with musicians John Masserini (clarinet), Geoffrey Friedley (tenor), Mark Neiwirth (piano), poet Greg Nicholl, and filmmaker Jeff Curtis. Music included live presentations of 20th century composers Joan Tower, Eric Mandat, John Cage, and Emma Lou Diemer. Premeire: Beverly Bistline Theatre in Pocatello, ID on February 24-25, 2006.

Surge. An 11-minute piece created for 8 students during a guest artist residency at Western Wyoming College. Music: Ahmet Erden, Tin Hat Trio, and Sigur Rós. Also performed in regional tour of Wyoming.

Publications & Presentations


Presentation and performance, “Site Work on Tour: The Mobility Turn” to be presented at the joint CORD/SDHS conference in Riverside, CA. This presentation includes a performance of Dwindling Dispute TKO.

Chapter in anthology, Moving Sites, edited by Victoria Hunter, currently in press at Routledge UK. Release date January 2015. Chapter title: “Dance in a Corporate Environment”

Published article, “Have Site, Will Travel – Container Architecture and Site-Specific Performance” in Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies (2013/Vol. XXXIV).

Chapter in anthology, Motion Pictures, edited by Telory Davies and Ruth Barnes, in press. Chapter title: “Location, Location, Location: The Power of Place in Dance Films”


Anthology, Site Dance: Choreographers and the Lure of Alternative Spaces, released as a paperback (in addition to a third printing of the hardback edition) by University Press of Florida.

Lecture/demonstration, “The Trouble with Collaboration, or how Icarus in Particular got Fried and Refried” presented at the Congress on Research in Dance conference in Philadelphia, PA.


Published interview entitled “Reconsidering Public Space” of myself by Brittany Dugan in The Dance Current, volume 13, November 2010.

Published article, “Site-Specific Dance in a Corporate Landscape,” published by New Theatre Quarterly, Vol. 26: 2 (May 2010): pp. 133-44. Article examines theories space, place, and non-place through the creation process of The Sanitastics.


Anthology, Site Dance: Choreographers and the Lure of Alternative Spaces, edited by Melanie Kloetzel and Carolyn Pavlik, published by University Press of Florida. This anthology is the first full-length text devoted to the field of site-specific dance; it includes interviews and writings by Meredith Monk, Ann Carlson, Stephen Koplowitz, Eiko Otake, and many other well-known North American choreographers. Released November 2009 (in second printing). Nominated for the de la Torre Bueno Prize ®, which is awarded annually by the Society for Dance History Scholars to a book published in the English language that advances the field of dance studies. Also selected as the textbook for the first MOOC (massive online open course) on site-specific performance offered through the California Institute for the Arts.

Keynote speaker for the Fine Arts Graduate Student conference. Presented a 40-minute talk entitled, “Co-labouring: Identity, Production, and Fantasy”

Presentation, “Experiments in Non-Place: Space, Place, and Transgression in Site-Specific Performance,” and film, The Sanitastics, at the Society for Dance History Scholars in San Francisco.

Roundtable organizer and discussion leader, “From the Artist’s Mouth: Creating and Writing about Site Work,” with site artists Jo Kreiter, Heidi Duckler, Merridawn Duckler, and Joanna Haigood, chosen for presentation at the Society for Dance History Scholars in San Francisco in June.


Presentation, “Le Sacre du Printemps: A Choreographic Treasure Trove,” at an Interdisciplinary Symposium titled “Situating Le Sacre in 2008” sponsored by the Faculty of Fine Arts at University of Calgary.

Presentation, “Space into Place or Place into Space: Site Work as a Two-Way Transgressor,” at the Performance Studies International conference. Paper uses the theories of Yi Fu Tuan and Deleuze and Guattari to explore Calgary as a site for performance.


Presentation, “Working on Site: Whose Theory, Whose Practice?,” at the joint CORD/SDHS conference held in Paris in June. Paper discusses the oppositional vectors toward and away from place in various forms of site-specific art.


Published article, “Reclaiming Place: Female Choreographers On Site” with Carolyn Pavlik in the October 2006 issue of IN DANCE, a publication by the Dancers’ Group in San Franscisco. Article analyzes work by Sally Jacques, Leah Stein, Olive Bieringa, and Heidi Duckler.

Presentation, “Provoking the Ghost: Towards a Theory of Site-Specific Performance,” at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education conference in August 2006. Paper examines the usefulness of Miwon Kwon’s theories of site-specificity in the realm of performance.

Presentation “Practicing Rights: Site-Specific Performance as a Resistance Strategy” at the Performance Studies International Conference in London in June 2006. Paper analyzes the site choreographer as a human rights practitioner.


Published article, “A Trek Through Pseudo-Utopia: Irvine, CA and Beyond,” in the Citing Cities Issue of EnterText, Volume 5 number 2 Autumn / Winter 2005. This paper analyzes the utopia/dystopia of Irvine, CA employing a physical exploration of the city as well as a theoretical analysis based on ideas of Edward Soja, Michel Foucault, and David Harvey.

Published article, “Site Dance: A Deconstruction/Reconstruction of Community and Place,” in the Congress on Research in Dance Proceedings for March, 2005. Also presented this paper at Dance and Community conference. Paper explores how site-specific work opens avenues for reinvestment in community and place.

Dance on Film


Dwindling Dispute TKO, in progress. A dance short set in the Calgary East Village. Directed by Melanie Kloetzel, film work by Jennifer Mahood. Performed by Naomi Brand and Melanie Kloetzel. Funded by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.


The Sanitastics, released in June 2011. An 8.5 minute, site-specific, sci-fi dance film set in the Plus 15 Skywalk System of Calgary, AB.
Directed by Melanie Kloetzel and edited by Jeff Curtis and Melanie Kloetzel.

TenduTV, Essential Dance Film Showcase, (available on Hulu in January 2014)
Sans Souci Festival of Dance on Tour in San Marco, TX, 2013
Third Coast Dance Film Festival, Houston, TX, 2011 and Slippery Rock, PA, 2012
Sao Carlos Videodance Festival in Brazil, 2011
Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema in Boulder, CO, 2011
Oklahoma Dance Film Festival, Tulsa, OK, 2011
Festival Internacional de Videodanza de Uruguay, 2011
Gallery of Alberta Media Artists, EPCOR Centre, Calgary, AB, 2011-12 (3-month continuous run)

Icarus Refried: A Pro-Creative Process, released in July, 2011. A 9-minute documentary covering the creation process and performance of Icarus Refried. Film directed by filmmaker Kurt Lancaster with interviews and performance footage of Melanie Kloetzel and John Masserini.


Icarus Fried, a film created in collaboration with Jeff Curtis and John Masserini.

Northern Arizona University, Horizons Concert Series, April 2011
University of Calgary, Dance@Night, April 2009
The Idaho Moving Project concert, February 2007.
Sans Souci Festival of Dance Cinema, April 2007 - chosen as a Best of Fest
DANSCAMDANSE 2007 International Dance Film Festival in Ghent, Belgium, May 2007
Danca em Foco, International Festival of Video and Dance,
Rio de Janeiro, August 2007


Back Doors, a film created in collaboration with Emily Crawford.

Ceretana Art Gallery film series in Missoula, MT in June 2005
The Idaho Moving Project performance in November 2005
Local film selection for Lunafest 2006, a national women’s film festival.


Teaching Philosophy

As an artist, scholar, and educator, I have found that performance plays a vital role in today's shrinking world. As geographical distances between cultures diminish, we must be prepared for flexible interaction with a multitude of environments, people, and employment possibilities. Such flexibility is exactly what a quality dance education can offer. Dance, in all its various forms and manifestations, has a remarkable capacity to teach students about cultural transformation over time and across space. As students delve into dance as a cultural practice, they find themselves immersed in the cultural codes and perceived boundaries of ethnicity, race, identity, and class. Confronting these issues through movement offers students new avenues of access, kinaesthetic as well as intellectual. As they both embody and critically consider these issues, students of dance garner a deep knowledge of culture in varied local contexts, a first step for understanding cultural interaction on a transnational and globalized scale.

In my classes, I portray dance as an agent of change and continuity. While some dance practices symbolize the preservation of traditional culture, others can instigate and substantiate cultural transformation. Under this rubric, students see performance as both shaping and reflecting political and cultural processes. As we explore this realm of agency together, I encourage students to see the relationship between cultural practices and larger societal forces. Noting instances of movement divergence and convergence, I push students to apply a critical eye to seeing how the forces of globalization and Western cultural dominance threaten or sustain cultural practices around the world. With such critical knowledge informing their creative explorations, students enter the dance world prepared to offer relevant contributions.

To attain such knowledge, students must shift readily between the studio and the classroom. In my courses, I insist upon breaking the divisions between these instructional frames. Thus, as we study dance as it is presented in video, live performance, technique class, and written texts, we approach it from a kinaesthetic and theoretical perspective. Students in my courses corporealize their learning of ethnography, historiography, poststructuralism, and postmodern theory even as they theorize the movements performed in studio classes. They learn to see the fluidity between theory and practice as they progress through technique, composition, history, improvisation, and philosophical approaches to dance. In particular, I focus on heightening students’ critical thinking skills and powers of observation as well as on their physical prowess and proprioception.

I believe that the dance scholars, performers, and choreographers of tomorrow can benefit from an education that spurs them on as critical thinkers, observers, and creators. Individuals with such training can only succeed as they navigate our globalizing world.

Course List:

DNCE 481: Dance and Culture
DNCE 203: Dance Movement Explorations
DNCE 207, 209, 305, 307, 405, 407, 505, 507, 681: Contemporary Technique Levels I-VIII
DNCE 681: Professional Dance Training & Methods II (for graduate students)
DNCE 581: Special Topics in Dance: Senior Project
DNCE 333: Dance Composition I
DNCE 433: Dance Composition III
DNCE 395, 397: Dance Performance Practicum I & II

*I also teach courses in Dance History, Contact Improvisation, Site-Specific Dance, and Dance for the Camera

Powered by UNITIS. More features.