Dayna Hanson has been creating work in dance, performance and film since 1987. Based in Seattle, she has toured her work throughout the U.S. and in Europe. Her films have screened at film festivals worldwide. Dayna’s body of work in dance includes abstract pieces and original dance theater created from disparate, cross-disciplinary sources. Her work in film runs from narrative to experimental to dance cinema. Among a range of honors, Dayna was awarded a 2006 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a 2010 United States Artists Foundation Oliver Fellowship in Dance and a 2012 Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award. Dayna is a 2017 MacDowell Colony Fellow.
Dayna’s work has been commissioned and presented by On the Boards, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Fusebox Festival, Dance Umbrella Austin, REDCAT, Miami Light Project, PuSh Festival and Noorderzon Festival/Grand Theatre in Groningen, Netherlands. In 2013 she was visiting artist at MANCC (Maggie Allesee National Choreographic Center).
Dayna’s short dance films have screened at festivals internationally, including Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, Dance Camera Istanbul and Festival Internacional de Videodanza de Buenos Aires. Her debut feature film, Improvement Club, premiered in Narrative Competition at South by Southwest Film Festival in 2013. “Voyeurs,” her episode for The Duplass Brothers’ anthology series for HBO, Room 104, has received wide critical acclaim since airing in September 2017. The New York Times wrote, “’Voyeurs’ is one of the most striking half-hours I’ve seen all season: An extended dance piece, written and directed by the choreographer Dayna Hanson, it uses movement and montage to connect two characters occupying the room at different times.”
With Gaelen Hanson, Dayna co-directed dance theater company 33 Fainting Spells from 1994 – 2006. 33 Fainting Spells’ six evening-length works were commissioned and presented by On the Boards, Walker Art Center, Dance Theater Workshop, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Joyce Theater, Wexner Center for the Arts, Portland Institute for the Arts, Kunstlerhaus Mousonturm and dozens of other venues.
33 Fainting Spells also pursued a strong interest in dance film, producing New Dance Cinema, a biennial festival of international dance film, and directing short films including Measure and Entry. Dayna and Gaelen’s films have screened worldwide, including at New York Film Festival and Edinburgh International Film Festival. Measure can be found on First Run Features’ Dance for Camera DVD.
In 2015, with long-time collaborators Peggy Piacenza and Dave Proscia, Dayna co-founded Base, a nonprofit organization dedicated to elevating risk and invention in dance, performance and multidisciplinary art. Base offers artist residencies and subsidized rentals in a 2,000 square foot space in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Along with Piacenza and Proscia, Dayna is a permanent resident artist at Base.
Dayna’s collaborative relationships are central to her practice. Along with Gaelen Hanson, Piacenza and Proscia, current and past collaborators include dance artist Wade Madsen, cinematographers Benjamin Kasulke and Jacob Rosen, film editor Sean Donavan and former band-mates Maggie Brown and Paul Matthew Moore. Dayna has created choreography for other artists, including director Tae Yong Kim and Rude Mechs; she was rehearsal consultant for Heather Kravas’ 2015 solo dance, dead, disappears.
Dayna has taught and lectured at Cornish College for the Arts, Northwest Film Forum, University of Washington and other institutions. She served on the faculty of NEFA/National Dance Project’s Regional Dance Development Initiative for Chicago dance makers in 2016, and is a 2017 Advisor to the National Dance Project.
Dayna’s work has received support from MAP Fund, National Dance Project, National Performance Network, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation/US Artists International, 4Culture, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and others.
Photo: Annie Marie Musselman