For over 30 years, Stephen Petronio has honed a unique language of movement that speaks to the intuitive and complex possibilities of the body informed by its shifting cultural context. He has collaborated with a wide range of artists in many disciplines over his career and holds the integration of multiple forms as fundamental to his creative drive and vision. He continues to create a haven for dancers with a keen interest in the history of contemporary movement and an appetite for the unknown. Petronio was born in Newark, New Jersey, and received a B.A. from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he began his early training in improvisation and dance technique. He was greatly influenced by working with Steve Paxton and was the first male dancer of the Trisha Brown Dance Company (1979 to 1986). He has gone on to build a unique career, receiving numerous accolades, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, an American Choreographer Award, a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, and most recently a 2015 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.
Petronio has created over 35 works for his company and has been commissioned by some of the world’s most prestigious modern and ballet companies, including William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt (1987), Deutsche Oper Berlin (1992), Lyon Opera Ballet (1994), Maggio Danza Florence (1996), Sydney Dance Company (2003, full evening), Norrdans (2006), the Washington Ballet (2007), The Scottish Ballet (2007), and two works for National Dance Company Wales (2010 and 2013).
His company repertory works have been set on The Scottish Ballet, Norrdans in Sweden, Dance Works Rotterdam, National Dance Company Wales, X Factor Dance Company in Edinburgh, Ballet National de Marseille, Ballet de Lorraine, and London Contemporary Dance Theater, as well as universities and colleges throughout the U.S. In 2009, Petronio completed an evening-length work for 30 dancers, Tragic/Love, in collaboration with composer Son Lux for Ballet de Lorraine. He completed several additional new works with Son Lux: By Singing Light, for National Dance Company Wales (2010), The Social Band, a commission for OtherShore Dance Company in New York (2011), and numerous unique editions of Like Lazarus Did (2013) for Stephen Petronio Company. Other recent projects include Prometheus Bound (2011), a musical for the American Repertory Theater, in collaboration with director Diane Paulus (HAIR), writer and lyricist Steven Sater (Spring Awakening), and composer Serj Tankian (Grammy award, lead vocalist, System of a Down). In 2013, Petronio created a new work, Water Stories for National Dance Company Wales in collaboration with composer Atticus Ross (Nine Inch Nails) and photographer Matthew Brandt with visual designer Ken Tabachnick.
Petronio, whose training originated with leading figures of the Judson era, performed Man Walking Down the Side of a Building in 2010 for Trisha Brown Company at the Whitney Museum, and performed his 2012 rendition of Steve Paxton’s Intravenous Lecture (1970) in New York, Portland, and at the TEDMED-2012 conference at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, DC. Petronio received the distinction of being named the first Artist-in-Residence at The Joyce Theater from 2012 to 2014. He has been entangled with visual artist Janine Antoni in a number of discipline-blurring projects, including the video installation Honey Baby (2013), created in collaboration with composer Tom Laurie and filmmaker Kirsten Johnson, and most recently Ally, in collaboration with Anna Halprin and Adrian Heathfield, which premiered at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia in summer of 2016. Petronio and Antoni are the 2017 McCormack Artists in Residence at Skidmore college, where their series of installations, Entangle, will be shown through July of 2017. Petronio’s memoir, Confessions of a Motion Addict, is available at Amazon.com.