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Carol McDowell (M.F. A. Dance/ UCLA) is an interdisciplinary dance artist, collaborator, scholar, and educator. She was born in California, grew up a haole in Hawai’i, lived in the downtown arts community of NYC from 1979-1991, Denver and Boulder 1991-1998, and has been part of the LA dance and performance for the past 24 years. McDowell creates dance scores and performance events concerned with presence, compassion, and difference. Falling in love with modern dance in classes with Betty Jones, she went on to complete a B.A. in Dance and Design from Bennington College. Since then, McDowell has jumped from an airplane in Tim Miller's Cost of Living, and danced Kei Takei's Light, Jack Moore’s Four Songs, Pooh Kaye’s Active Graphics, Barbara Dilley’s Naked Face, Laurel Jenkins’s B.A.S.E. at the Getty, most recently in alexx shilling’s stage and film project Be Cool, and Victoria Mark's backyard performance Dirt. Additionally she has performed in works by Kevin Williamson, Jmy James Kidd, Body Weather, Jay Carlon, Nickels Sunshine, Christine Suarez, Rebecca Alson Milkman, Ari Hoffman, Cheng-Chieh Yu, Cid Pearlman, Karen Finley, Pooh Kaye, Yvonne Meier, Tim Miller, Yoshiko Chuma, Poppo, John Bernd, Kei Takei, Barbara Roan and Phoebe Neville. She continues to participate and perform in Encounter, a monthly performance art practice founded by Mariel Carranza in 2012. Other collaborations include projects with Asher Hartman, Jerri Allen & Inez Bush.
Her choreography has been presented at Highways Performance Space, Pieter, Looking Left/Santa Cruz, LA iDfest, Craftswoman House, Skirball Cultural Center, Sweeney Art Gallery, Anatomy Riot, Platinum Oasis, and FAIRY/Side Street Projects in SoCal, The Kitchen, Dance Theater Workshop, and Performance Space 122 in NYC, and abroad in Indonesia and Europe. Grants and artist residencies have come from Beach Dances: Shared Practices/Rhizomatic Arts and Santa Monica Cultural Affairs, Hothouse/UCLA, Makassar Arts Forum, Tari Riau, Indonesian Dance Festival, National Dance/Media Fellowship, APPEX, Djerassi Foundation, Colorado Arts Council, Boulder Arts Commission, Aesthetic Education Institute of Colorado, Jerome Foundation, DIA Art Foundation, Working in the Kitchen and Hawaii Department of Education.
Also known for her lighting design, McDowell received a 2002 Lester Horton Award for her work lighting Against Ending by Victoria Marks and a 1985 BESSIE for her work lighting Be Good to Me by John Bernd. From 1991-1998 she served as Director of the Performing Arts Center at the Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado where she co-founded the Mariposa Collective with Barbara Dilley, Diane Butler, and Polly Motley. Here in LA, McDowell co-founded the Gold Collective with Madison Clark, Sarah Leddy, Daniel Miramontes, and alexx shilling, which presented Gold Series #1 and 2 at ARC in 2018 and 2019 and a live online event for Gold Series #3 during the pandemic in 2020, Encounter, the ongoing practice of a constantly evolving group of artists including Mariel Carranza, Allison Wyper, Dino Dinco, Rafa Esparza, Rochelle Fabb, Doran George (RIP), Asher Hartman, Rebeca Hernandez, Rossen Ventzislavov, Samuel White, Dorian Wood, Douglas Green, Paul Outlaw, and John Burtle, max10 performance lab at the Electric Lodge with Cid Pearlman, David King, Marcus Kuiland-Nazario and Nurit Siegel, and was co-curator of Crazy Space and several performance series at Sea and Space Explorations and Kristi Engel Gallery with Asher Hartman. McDowell received her M.F.A. in Dance/Choreography from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance and RYT 200 certification from Yoga Alliance/ Yoga Mittra Vinyasa Yoga Foundation. She continues to teach dance and performance studies, composition, improvisation and yoga at several colleges in Southern California including Rio Hondo College and West LA College, and has been a guest lecturer at CSULB, Pomona College, and Bennington College.