press, reviews, interviews
bits and pieces
"Sherman’s 'Demolition Boy' is a strangely captivating exploration of artistic self worth and Tyra Banks. Hovering a very fine line between the serious hardcore of American modern dance to the deadpan absurdity of anyone tapped into the paradoxes of pop culture, Sherman puts forward notions of judgment and failure by using an actual audio recording of a grant jury deliberating the merits of her own work. The crux, however, is that she plays the audio recording as a dub over an edit of Tyra Bank’s “The Gay Truth Booth,” apparently a segment where the stereotypes of gay men are invited onto the women’s talk show to teach and inspire women to be better women, when all the while, the character of Karen in a tie and sweater vest is idolizing the fashion of her friend, Nick, who is activated by an audience member and held captive as her muse. The work as a whole hinges on Sherman’s almost hypnotizing presence on stage, which fascinatingly enough, does not waver over the course of her own judgment".
Amy Fung, Studio 303 Edgy Women Festival Blog, Montreal Demolition Boy (2010)
"Violence is not an easy subject to tackle onstage. Although it takes many forms, violence is deeply personal in nature, affecting people in very specific ways. With copperhead last October, Karen Sherman delved into the dark world of a cult-like colony, transforming all of the Southern Theater — stage and audience seating alike — into a sort of purgatory where humanity's darkest impulses played out in small yet significant ways amongst a cast of lost souls. Time passed in a different, deliberate manner over the course of the show, and familiar performers took on personas that made them unfamiliar and even unsettling. Sherman is one of the most daring and insightful artists working in our community, and she creates work that is not only relevant to our time but memorable — even if the memories are the sort we feel uncomfortable keeping."
City Pages, Best of the Twin Cities, (2009)
"Karen Sherman is an artist with both grit and guts, a shaker-upper of our sometimes complacent local dance scene. Traumatized women and the forces that mold them simmer at the core of copperhead, her latest dance-theater work. Drawing on two sources of extreme ordeals, the work explores the haunting bonds between victims and perpetrators. One influence, the book Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz, documents the author's obsession with a man who brutally attempted to murder her at a campsite. The other references the experiences of the Manson Family women, who have described a conflicted sense of relationship with their victims. copperhead is an expanded version of the fascinating one born bad that took place in Sherman's basement, where audience members sat toe-to-toe with performers who were sometimes only partially visible. Her cast of eight includes powerhouse performers like Morgan Thorson, Emily Johnson, Justin Jones, and, of course, Sherman herself."
Linda Shapiro, City Pages A-List, copperhead (2008)
"...Artists like Sherman, though, refract and carve away at their originals. Like the oyster, the artist completely transforms the seed--but the result is never simple or easy. Instead of telling a story or conveying a central thesis, copperhead sets off flares of scenes and thoughts, moments and associations. It is, as Sherman says, "a series of images and states." Two fingers flatly clapped against an inner forearm made me think at once of needles and veins, of the sick feeling that often arises when we contemplate our insides as a nest of wormy seethings. One dancer runs at the mass of others and is caught in a crucifixion jump; several dancers bourree (shuffle on tiptoe) in poses of Christ-like ennui. Later I see St. Sebastian's twisting, helpless, languid body--or the limp necks of Audubon's beautiful birds (they wouldn't make half such obedient arabesques if they were alive). Piled bodies evoke The Raft of the Medusa, or worse: when dancers push each other's bodies in front of them, I see that footage everyone needs to see only once, of bulldozers plowing bodies at the concentration camps. All these images collect together in my mind, the horror of one jamming up against the sleek beauty of another, and all catching on the real human forms in front of me...." [read the full article here.]
Lightsey Darst, mnartists.org, copperhead (2008)
"Violent crime is so common that even if you've never experienced it directly, you probably know someone who has. It's omnipresent in the news, although sensational headlines and a relentless focus on the most horrible cases tend to numb us to the deeply personal nature of violence. For both victims and aggressors, however, the brutality itself is only part of the story. For every act of violence there is the before, during, and after—and the often surprising links between them. For two years choreographer Karen Sherman has been exploring these intimate relationships through a rigorous process of research and rehearsal..." [read the full article here.]
Caroline Palmer, City Pages, copperhead (2008)
"McKnight–winning avant garde choreographer Karen Sherman brings her fierce vision to the Southern stage this October. In Copperhead, Sherman probes the boundaries of victim and aggressor, hunting for the point of intersection. Disturbing but vital, Copperhead promises to be one of this year’s most exciting local dance premieres, especially given its star cast, which includes Morgan Thorson and Emily Johnson."
Critic's Picks, Minneapolis-St.Paul Magazine, Fall Arts Preview, copperhead (2008)
"Ten audience members sit on folding chairs in the basement of a Powderhorn Park house in Minneapolis watching five performers who are sometimes only partially visible, sometimes almost nose to nose with the audience, sometimes literally dancing in the dark. The women mix ordinary gestures (telling secrets, running a sewing machine, sucking on candy) with more emotionally charged activity suggesting fear, anger and claustrophobic confinement. While there's no overt violence in one born bad, a dance partly about perverted cult "families," the mood is creepy and sinister: the sewing machine sounds like machine-gun fire, people huddle in corners, a passive woman is gently undressed."...read the full article here.
Linda Shapiro, minnpost.com, one born bad (2008)
Best Dancer, 2007
"This is actually a twofer since Karen Sherman is equally talented as a choreographer and a dancer. But this year we'll praise her moves on stage. The artist, who splits her time between Minneapolis and New York, is agile and fearless, no doubt a result of her training on the trapeze. But she sets herself apart with an ability to explore the quirky, awkward, deliberate, and often obscure moments that occur between the movement phrases. In 2006 Sherman embodied the obsession of an Elvis impersonator in Faker, Morgan Thorson's savvy ode to idol lust. And in her own Tiny Town she ably scanned the emotional pitfalls of heartland life. One minute Sherman may be moving with lyrical ease, the next she punches the air like a rock star—it seems entirely possible that she'll burst into song or stare down the other dancers with her piercing eyes. We're fortunate she chose to plant at least one of her talented feet here."
City Pages, Best of the Twin Cities, (2007)
"Sherman is a charismatic performer, whose work is exquisitely crafted and powered by lean, incisive movement."
Camille LeFevre, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Tiny Town (2006)
"Missouri Compromise summons a spare emotional and physical landscape where time moves deliberately, and seemingly innocuous conversations harbor hidden tensions. Both Sherman and Thorson move with fierce intention."
Caroline Palmer, City Pages, Missouri Compromise (2005)
"It's a shame that shows like the amazing Foxhole don't run long. By the time you e-mail friends, they're gone for good."
Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Village Voice, Foxhole (2000)
"Sherman and Gangé's 'bad girl' image is unequivocally about contemporary women...and conceives of female bonding as a forceful, empowering tool to protest and fight against male dominance."
Frank Werner, ballet tanz, Foxhole (2000)
"Foxhole is all action. ...this gifted ensemble could kick the crap out of those Gap khaki girls (and guys)."
Maura Nguyen Donohue, Dance Insider, Foxhole (2000)
"Sherman physically redefines the obligatory rock-concert drum solo, as she percussively pumps her fists and tears up the stage in a rock-star turn."
Camille LeFevre, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Morgan Thorson's Faker (2005)
"Karen Sherman and Chris Schlichting’s karaoke duet to “Up Where We Belong” would be a Grammy winner if there were such a category, as they really can sing. In her lounge-lizard act—complete with go-go girls—Sherman channels every pelvis-wriggling, sleeze-oozing, girl-ogling, audience-seducing lounge singer with impeccable gestural precision. In her drum-solo duet with on-stage drummer Ryan Billig, she’s simultaneously drum, stick and drummer in a tour de force of fervor, fearlessness and physical ferocity. "
Camille LeFevre, mnartists.org, Morgan Thorson's Faker (2006)
"Karen Sherman plunges into music at the nerve level, her stamina nearly incidental."
Lightsey Darst, mnartists.org, Morgan Thorson's Faker (2005)
"I found myself enchanted by Cold Comfort 's tenderness, gentle humor, sadness, and boldness. Very effective, impressive dance theater."
Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Cold Comfort (2004)
© 2012 karen sherman