Monday, December 29, 2008
Tennessee -- Layard Thompson
Tennessee – Layard Thompson
Layard Thompson grew up throughout the west coast where he fell head over heels in love with Humbolt beaches, epic redwoods, and the Sierra Nevada mountains; his father’s influence as a landscape architect further inspired an aesthetic passion for nature. At around the age of 13 he started dancing and lip-synching alone in his bedroom with Solid Gold, Fame, and Paula Abdul as early influences. He eventually chose to study Dance, rather then Aikido in High School. Throughout, these early times of discovering dance he realized his love of endlessly spinning…He went on to graduate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst – Five Colleges with honors and degrees in Dance and Environmental Sciences. During his college years he attended the American Dance Festival and the Bates Dance Festival under full scholarship.
Moving to New York as an apprentice with the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company, he continued on to work with Edisa Weeks, Rebecca Lazier’s Terrain Dance Company, Joanna Mendl Shaw’s Equus Project, Jesse Phillips-Fein, J. Mandle Performance, French choreographer Brice Leroux. Julie Atlas Muz, Hana van der Kolk, Juliette Mapp, and performing artist Taylor Mac. He has been a subject for many photographers, most notably Michael James O’Brien, Greg Gorman, Liz Magic Laser, and Benjy Russell. Additionally, he has had the great fortune to stumble into two films with a cameo appearance as choreographer in Jonathan Caouette’s Tarnation and as a sextra in John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus.
Layard’s dancing life in New York could be nothing without gogo; he is greatly indebted to the Mother Krew’s Jackie Factory, and the notorious political cabaret, Weimar New York. As a member of the cabaret’s wily gender-fuck clowns The Pixie Harlots he has worn out his first set of heels on bar tops and cabaret stages throughout New York. Notable venues include Joe’s Pub, the Speigel Tent, and San Francisco MoMA where upon arriving with in-flight drag he happened to bum a smoke from Siouxsie Sioux curbside while waiting for his ride.
As a choreographer his works typically employ elaborate costumes and sets. Early examples include a solo with a 35 foot diameter skirt and broken glass bottles, as well as a multimedia work which examined ocean wave rhythm and the coastal horizon landscape. In 2003, his architecturally responsive installation performance with collaborating choreographer Eric Kaiel, haiku d’etat, toured eleven cities along the west-coast of the U.S. and Canada in a self-produced epic. Currently, this interest in materials and environments is prompting him to realize his performances through durational installation performances that blur the fourth wall between stage and exhibition.
His life as an artist is most particularly defined by his relationship with choreographer Deborah Hay. Her work and mentorship has opened doorways to a performing body through unprecedented modes. Via her Solo Performance Commissioning Project he has adapted four solos from 2003-2007 respectively titled The Ridge, Room, News, and The Warrior. For these inspirational opportunities he is deeply grateful to Deborah for her profound influence.
His career in New York was recently and very touchingly honored with a Bessie Award for his body of work as a performer, most notably through his work with Deborah Hay and his Pixie sisters.
Currently, Layard lives part-time in Brooklyn, NY and Liberty, Tennessee — where he is developing installation performance environments to act as his exhibition stage while also founding the organizational framework for a rural residential arts community and non-profit.