Molly Shanahan / Mad Shak supports innovation and collaboration though the development and presentation of dance performances and other programs that engage the public in a deeper understanding and appreciation of the creative process.

Artist Statement

My primary source is the body. It holds mysteries that we, collectively, have not even begun to understand. Through live performance, we experience these mysteries together in shared space and time.

In my work, I try to understand what movement tells us about our whole earthly selves, our relationships to each other, the environment, our past and present. What is habitual? What is transcendent and eternal? Where is the line between the two? I am curious about how microcosmic nuance—the unfurling of a hand, the softening of the face--can have universal relevance, and how paradox teaches us anew about the complexity of truth.

I develop my movement by endeavoring to discover, heed and express authentic impulse. I try to articulate this impulse with attention to intrinsic honesty and extrinsic detail. My improvised work is intricate; a marriage of flow and intentionality. Though my pre-composed dances are rigorously specific, they retain the energy of present-moment discovery that characterizes improvisation.

My process involves the softening of excessive force; in so doing, I attempt to unearth and confront the fears that come with letting go of habits. This has led to movement that is typically undulatory, fluid and sensual, the resultant phrases often characterized by whole-body connected gestures and overlapping spirals that describe a wave-like terrain.

When I dance I am transfixed, simultaneously moving with radical attention and opening to the transformative phenomenon of being observed. I hope that my work invites the audience to experience more of themselves. And if it nudges their unspoken desires--for change, sensation, renewed vitality--into consciousness, this is a welcome and fulfilling result.

–Molly Shanahan, April 2011


Dance, the bridge between my desire to communicate publicly and my contemplative nature, teaches me new ways to see.