“One of the most dynamic movement artists in the Twin Cites.” – 3-Minute Egg
“…see one of her compelling performances, interlaced with surrealist sensibility and bracing intelligence, and you won’t forget her.” – Star Tribune
“…the depth of Voskuil’s thinking is matched by the breadth of her vision.” – mspmag.com
“…enjoy a taste for the unexpected poetry that defines the human experience.” – City Pages
“…luminous, mysterious work…unique brand of wit and dramatic heft…” – City Pages
“She caught our eye…for her steely, resolute dancing…as well as singular, cinematic smarts.” - Star Tribune
“Vivid stage images fraught with emotion.” – mspmag.com
“Some performers just can’t live a life of cud-chewing complacency. These errant few bring their creativity to the edge.” – Minnesota Daily
City Pages Best of 2015: Best Dancer Vanessa Voskuil
In her dance-theater work "The Master," Vanessa Voskuil evoked zen serenity and cosmic uncertainty with a surge of movement that can only be described as speaking in gestural tongues. Like the set that she and her fellow performers demolished in the finale, Voskuil dismantled herself and illuminated all the working parts. She gave an intensely focused performance, simultaneously invoking ingénue and crone, trickster and guru. Moving to a highly philosophical and at times mordantly funny taped text about (among many other things) the relationship between performer and audience, Voskuil summoned up the mad woman in the attic by way of Mozart's "Queen of the Night."
Indy Week: In a Creative Ecosystem That Can Exhaust Dancers, ADF Artist Vanessa Voskuil Seeks to Empower Instead
June 15, 2016
Over FaceTime from her home in Minneapolis, choreographer Vanessa Voskuil talks in layers and loops about the piece she's creating for this summer's American Dance Festival. She moves her phone in a spiraling motion that tracks with her speech, landing on thematic words that gather momentum in their likeness: authenticity and sincerity, fluid and freeform.
The conversation resembles a choreographic investigation, which is apt, given Voskuil's approach to her new work for the Footprints program, where choreographers set work on ADF students. In this case, however, "set on" isn't quite the right term. When Voskuil holds auditions, she's looking for performers who are demonstrably called to the work.
Dance Magazine: An All-Weather Scene
December 16, 2011
Performance art–oriented artists and groups like... Vanessa Voskuil... create richly evocative, surreal landscapes, often in alternative spaces.
City Pages: Vanessa Voskuil: 100 Creatives
February 1, 2011
It takes a special talent to create a compelling dance piece using mostly volunteers with little or no training, but performance artist, choreographer, and director Vanessa Voskuil did exactly this with "en masse." The captivating performance, which won a City Pages Best Of in 2010, demonstrated how a group of people could meld together into a collective body of flowing movement. The piece is one of many eye-catching, innovative, and experimental productions by Voskuil. Over the years she has collaborated with local companies such as the Stuart Pimsler Dance Company, Catalyst Dances, and Skewed Visions, in addition to co-founding physical theater group Live Action Set. She also recently tackled the challenging world of dance cinema with Overflow, a film created with filmmaker John Koch for the Southern Theater's Dance Film Project 2010.
Minnesota Playlist: The Dance Scene
January 13, 2010
....Realizing that there is a Minnesota style might also allow us to be more open to artists who don’t fit the mold. Take Vanessa Voskuil. Her cinematic, expressionist work, with its poetic images (a woman’s hair pinned to a winter-ridden tree) and its universalist themes (the self and the world, love, the mass and the individual, bravery) was too lovely and apolitical for the po-mo crowd to grab onto, but not dancey enough for the modern scene to adopt it either. The result? Voskuil had to wait so long for her Momentum: New Dance Works show that, by the time it finally arrived last summer, there was nothing "emerging" about her work. In fact, Voskuil was so discouraged, she nearly called it quits a few times before her Momentum. Who knows what else we’ve lost over the years—whether through a lack of understanding or a failure to explore the question we didn’t even know to ask? A bird’s-eye view every so often might be salutary....Watch for Voskuil’s spreading influence.
Minnesota Monthly: 7 Artists to Watch: The up-and-coming artists you won’t be able to take your eyes off this fall
September 20, 2010
by Tim Gihring and Alex Davy
With the award-winning Live Action Set, Voskuil honed a poetic, engaging form of dance theater. Now she’s won a McKnight Fellowship and set about defining a new sub-genre—dance designed for film, complete with close-ups, abstraction, and new narrative ideas—and is curating a show of films blending the mediums. “I was overwhelmed by the possibilities at first,” she says of dance on film. “It makes dance accessible in a whole new way.” Dance Film Project screens December 17 and 18, Southern Theater, southerntheater.org.
City Pages Best of: Best Dancer: The mass in En Masse
Consummate solo dancer Isadora Duncan wrote, "When I have danced, I have tried always to be the Chorus. ...I have never once danced a solo." Last July, the 69 performers in Vanessa Voskuil's En Masse demonstrated how a chorus can function as a single, multidimensional dancer. Not that these ethnically, gender-, and age-diverse folks—none of them professional dancers—ever displayed the kind of well-oiled unison of, say, the Rockettes. Rather, they moved with the inexorable liquidity and purpose of some giant, pliant organism. At one point several dancers were seamlessly lifted above the group—first just a head higher, then way up, surfing the crowd like benign porpoises while remaining part of its tidal flow. Sometimes the surging mass verged on ecstasy and its handmaiden, anarchy. As the performers jogged, swayed, milled restlessly, posed seductively, huddled, and embraced, they embodied a shifting dynamism, an unfolding of forces and temperaments, and a unity of purpose that defines the greatest dancers.
Mpls. St. Paul Magazine: The North's Best 2015: Vanessa Voskuil
November 19, 2015
After receiving her BFA in dance and BA in theater from the University of Minnesota in 2001, contemporary dancer Vanessa Voskuil proceeded to perform and choreograph all over town....no surprise that the challenging yet accessible dancer was awarded a 2015 McKnight Fellowship for choreography (her second time landing this specific grant). Up next, she’s touring in Japan...
Twin Cities Daily Planet: McKnight Choreography Fellowship Winners
September 27, 2009
It takes a village to make…a dance community. And it takes a dance community (among other things) to make a village worth living in. Monday night, September 21, the Southern Theater hosted a panel discussion with the three choreographers who have most recently been awarded McKnight Fellowships for creating dance. It was a comfortable, well-paced, interesting and largely unscripted evening worth every minute. The three choreographers were (in alphabetical order) Emily Johnson, Morgan Thorson and Vanessa Voskuil. Each had a chance to say a few words then five minutes or less of material was shown by video.
The Herald Sun: ADF's 'Footprints' strolls down Gardens' paths
July 28, 2016
"This work is about human development and the metaphor of the garden is ideal for this topic. It is about nature and what is means to be a part of the world...Our growth is of our own doing and in this structuring of this work, I considered all aspects of individual growth...Our process dealt similarly with our life processes and, internally, how they relate to our 'truest self'...Each piece of this 'garden' (human soul) is equally unique to other 'gardens' (human souls), she explained.
The Five Point Star: WALK in The Gardens with Vanessa Voskuil: More ADF Footprints
July 29, 2016
....This outdoor venue...allows her to work with the indefinite and the random, and to create with shape and movement on a large scale, without the contrivance and constriction required by a theater. Walk is without a clear moment of beginning, and the end is equally indefinite. The dancers move among the people who’ve come to see them, and the many others who find themselves in the midst of something as they transit the circle on their own trajectories. It’s a sweetly worded statement of this dancer’s understanding of the relationship of dancing and living–that we are all part of the performance...
City Pages: Vanessa Voksuil premieres large-scales dance The Student at O'Shaughnessy
April 2, 2014
After a two-year exploration, director and dance maker Vanessa Voskuil presents the culmination of her large-scale dance- and music-theater piece, The Student, this weekend at O'Shaughnessy Auditorium as part St. Catherine University's Women of Substance series. Premiering on Thursday, the work features about 70 local dancers, actors, and community members, plus 100 student vocalists from St. Catherine University, Hamline University, and Perpich Center for the Arts Education. . .
Star Tribune: Large-scale work ponders big questions
April 4, 2014
“The evening-length work makes an impression....The Student” stands out for its intelligence and questioning spirit...strong conceptual vision....a fascinating journey through its creator’s mind."
"A gorgeous sense of flow unfolds as movement ripples through the crowds onstage...as if controlled by a force far bigger than them. And they are – Voskuil, despite her slight frame, is a powerful presence with a command of how to move large groups of people for her creative ends."
John C. Koch: A Review of The Student
With a generous effort to articulate a deep spiritual understanding, Vanessa Voskuil knows how to invite the audience in to her latest work, The Student. As the curtain rises on an empty stage, we hear a series of uncanny whooshing sounds, as if the enormous unseen circulatory system of the work is whirring itself to life. Solemn figures enter the auditorium from the outside, proceeding down the aisles to envelop the audience on either side, lit with hard back light, and slowly walking backwards toward the stage. It has bracingly and disarmingly begun. To approach this work, the uninitiated should first understand that Voskuil’s work boldly and uncompromisingly moves within its own time and its own logic, and she works unapologetically on her own terms. But without being didactic, pretentious or overbearing, she gently summons the viewer into this distinctive space, where the air feels different, time and sound slow down and perception shifts, and thus the stage is set for a truly singular expression.
Huffpost: ADF 3: Building the Big Show
September 23, 2013
“The ground is shifting.” Students hurly-burly across the dance floor, legs flying out from under them. “Birds are diving,” the tall woman at the center of the whirlwind calls out. Hands shield the students’ heads; they duck and skitter. “Water is spraying,” she adds, tossing her fall of fine dark hair away from her face. She wears a black racerback maxidress over wide-leg pants, the folds of jersey showing her lines like wet-look drapery on a Greek statue. She’s rangy, quiet, intense, immediate, her body revealing riverine shifts her quiet Dutch face conceals. This is Vanessa Voskuil, one of three choreographers making new work on ADF students for the Footprints concert...
HuffPost: ADF 7 Opening Night (1): Footprints
August 8, 2013
The intermission after Myers’s work stretches long; people shift in their seats. Then, without the house lights going down, the curtain starts up, slowly, revealing no one and nothing, the stage bare to the back and sides, black, exposed. Still nothing. But we know the dancers will come. People turn around. The inevitable crying baby bursts out; by the laughter I measure our tension. The air’s alive, as if stirred by an invisible cast of thousands. Yellow-orange light drives down on us. Then the dancers appear at the doors, backing down the aisles, upright, dressed in ash- and clay-colors. They move slowly. My first thought: this is going to take forever. But then I find myself caught by the audience’s behavior: some turn all the way around and some stay facing front, waiting. The dance is a litmus test for us.
The Herald Sun: Review: ADF concludes with demanding, magnificent works
July 28, 2013
"Voskuil’s expert use of a large cast makes for a powerful and mysterious work."
Mnartists.org: Momentum: Vanessa Voskuil and Sachiko Nishiuchi
by Lightsey Darst
"[en masse]...fascinating....can't stay unmoved....there's no denying the charisma of the crowd. A group this large is magic; there's no looking away."
Dancemagazine.com: Momentum New Dance Works
by Linda Shapiro
"[en masse]...like a giant organism seeking a higher purpose"
Star Tribune: Dance `en masse' has crowd appeal
by Caroline Palmer
"Voskuil skillfully taps into...humanity's vulnerabilities as much as our strengths through simple demonstrations of conflict and cooperation."
MinnPost.com: Momentum: One weekend down, one to go
by Camille LeFevre
"[en masse]...humanity at its worst...and its best...Voskuil clearly has a way with such a large group. There wasn’t anything innately innovative, provocative or genre-shattering about the work, but "en masse" left one with faith in one’s own and other’s humanity — and a desire to join in Voskuil’s vision on stage."
mnartists.org: Post Show Review: Vanessa Voskuil "en masse"
by Cathy Wright
"I want more, stop, wait, there it is again....The group taps their fingers to their chest, their heart, in perfect synchronicity to the walls and the sound. Home....A task has been accomplished with great efficiency and grace- the power of community effort."
Post-Show Review: the Silents
“I found myself feeling many visceral reactions throughout….It is a true joy to behold a work…that leads me somewhere even more spectacular than I had imagined possible….like you are speaking a new language that I understand and somehow have always understood, yet never heard before until I saw this work.”
Post-Show Review: the Silents
“What you are creating with this work is a sacred space, an austere and unique environment that is completely separate from the din and relative chaos of the outside world...”
mspmag.com: Dérive at the Northwestern Casket Company
by Lightsey Darst
“…I was in another world [the silents: for Derive]. ….Meaning? If you can’t state one, you won’t miss it. In Voskuil’s work, image leads sense."
Post-Show Review, the Silents: for Dérive
"I imagined your piece to be something the filmmaker David Lynch might make if he were working in a different medium, particularly the arresting soundtrack...thank you for a challenging and inspiring evening. I'm seriously grateful to you for reminding me that artistic vision is alive in the Twin Cities.”
In My Humble Opinion: Vanessa Voskuil’s The White Solos – 5 Stars
by Matthew Everett
“This work is playing with the most basic of theatrical elements – the difference between light and darkness, sound and silence, movement and stillness. Under these conditions, the simple act of breathing can fill the space and rivet attention.”
Post-Show Review: The White Solos
“….my favorite part of your performance is your focus, your unyielding commitment to the creation…and the quiet desperation, the pseudo-schizophrenic nature of your characters and see them as caricatures of thoughts, of real emotions…”