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Maria Gillespie // The Collaboratory

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Photo credit: Denise Leitner, Performers: Maria Gillespie, Kevin Williamson, Kindra Windish, Nguyen Nguyen

tres historias - burlap_photobyRobertAirhart

Photo courtesy of Tessellate/ Battery Factory, Photo by Robert Airhart, Performers: Maria Gillespie, Nguyen Nguyen


Photo credit: Denise Leitner, Performers: Maria Gillespie, Kevin Williamson


Photo credit: Denise Leitner, Performers: Sinnamon Hauser, Jasmine Jawato, Flannery Gregg, Cheng-Chieh Yu

exquisite corps closeup legs

Photo of Oni Dance in Exquisite.Corpse by Andre Andreev, Performers: Flannery Gregg, Tida Sripanich, Wilfried Souly, Lisa Wahlander

MISSION   practice – converse – collaborate – move – incubate – investigate – make – perform – unfix - make again 

MARIA GILLESPIE (she/her) is a choreographer, performer, dance and somatic educator. She is a CLMA Laban Bartenieff Movement Analyst and certified Pilates teacher. She directs MG/The Collaboratory and Hyperlocal MKE, both dedicated to interdisciplinary collaboration and improvised performance practice. Gillespie developed the community teaching project, Parts of the Whole-The Body is Home to bring creative somatics, dance, and community building to system impacted individuals. These community practices are based on the belief that liberation begins in the body. Focusing on outreach to incarcerated youth, Parts of the Whole shares kinesthetic learning and expressive experiences as a way to address prison abolition through transformative justice and building communities. By developing creative movement in collective settings, individuals recognize and strengthen their voice, connecting parts to a greater whole.


Regionally, Gillespie has collaborated with artists Nirmal Raja, Sonja Thomsen, Glenn Williams, Nathaniel Stern, Joelle Worm, Christal Wagner, Tim Russell, Devin Drobka, Barry Paul Clark, Mike Rea, and dozens of choreographers and composers to create collaborative performances. Gillespie founded and directed LA-based Oni Dance (2003-2015) and was named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch". Gillespie's dances... "ricochet between vulnerability and strength with razor-sharp shifts in intensity and intent" (LA Times). Her work has been presented nationally and internationally including The Ford Amphitheatre, The Getty Museum, the Roy and Edna Disney/Cal Arts Theater (REDCAT), UCLA's Department of World Arts & Cultures, Cal Arts, The Fowler Museum, Highways Performance Space, Joyce SoHo and CounterPULSE. Gillespie has performed and taught in Beijing, Guangzhou, Tokyo, and Mexico City.  She has taught at UCLA Department of World Arts & Cultures/Dance, Cal Arts, Loyola Marymount University, University of Iowa, Dance New Amsterdam (NY), Beijing Modern Dance Festival and was a choreographic and teaching resident in Mexico City with Apoc Apoc. Choreographic commissions include The Getty Center, Loyola Marymount University, Scripps College, Pomona College, Cal State Long Beach, Utah Valley University, University of Florida, and Santa Monica College dance departments. She is grant recipient from The Wisconsin Arts Board, The Durfee Foundation, The Irvine Foundation, UWM’s Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, The Center for International Education and was a 2014 UWM Global Studies Fellow. In 2019, she was a UWM Research Mentor of the year nominee for her commitment to undergraduate research and received the 2019 Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. She is an Associate Professor of Dance at UWM Peck School of the Arts.

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