Amy Yopp Sullivan
Amy Yopp Sullivan is an Associate Professor and Founding Director at The Center for Dance, Movement and Somatic Learning and a Registered Somatic Movement Educator (RSME) and Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) with the International Somatic Movement Educator and Therapy Association. Sullivan is a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA) from the Integrated Movement Studies Program, at the University of Utah. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Dance Education and Master of Fine Arts in Dance, focused on Choreography and Performance from The Department of Dance at University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She also holds a Master of Religious Education from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. She is an affiliate faculty for the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook Medicine.
Sullivan creates environments and structures to serve as territories for experimentation. She values process and improvisation as catalysts for original dance theatre works, interdisciplinary research, community outreach and educational learning communities. Sullivan founded the Center for Dance, Movement and Somatic Learning at Stony Brook University in January 2009, creating the vision and scope for the new interdisciplinary center. She has led and/or directed the dance program at Stony Brook University since 1986. Sullivan serves as a consultant, resident artist and somatic educator/therapist in business, industrial, educational and health care environments. She has been engaged in Artist in Community projects throughout her career.
As Artistic Director for the resident company IronWorks on the Edge, Sullivan creates her professional theatrical and choreographic work. Through the company, undergraduate and graduate students are offered opportunities to work with seasoned professionals through collaborations and performances. One of Sullivan's recent new dance theatre work, We Have Yet to Find the Words (2015), examined how, why and when we speak or stay silent when faced with issues of human rights violation. The creative work incorporated her research in Critical Movement and the Babel Technique. The collaborative work was performed during the Center's Performance Series, Explorations on a Live Wire.
Sullivan merged her research, teaching and creative work into "The Migrations of Human Desire Project" in 2016-2017. The first installment performance of the project was presented at the Charles B Wang Center Theatre on April 7, 8, and 9th, 2016. It featured undergraduate students across disciplines and in performance. The process involved improvisation, creativity and ensemble work under Sullivan's direction through DAN 400 The Performance Dance Ensemble, an undergraduate university 3-credit hour course, originally developed by colleague Randy Thomas. Her current creative project, "Speaking in Many Tongues", is examining the shared narrative potential from numerous perspectives, cultures and identities. The collaborative work will be performed at the Charles B Wang Center in April of 2017.
Sullivan is the Founder and Executive Director for The Festival of the Moving Body, with the Co-Founder and Production Manager of the Festival, David Ullman and Assistant Director of the Festival, Randy Thomas. The international festival is held on the campus of Stony Brook University at the Charles B. Wang Center. "Translating Human Imagination, Sensation, Movement, Interaction, and Adaptability" was the focus for the 2014 festival, held on October 16 and 17, 2014. "The Body is the New Classroom" was the focus for the first festival, held on March 16 and 17, 2012.
Swimming the River is a new artistic community project begun in October, 2013. The project seeks to reimagine how the arts and humanities can influence new creative applications for existing technologies, promoting relationships and representations of diverse voices within our changing environments. The project continues it's development, with the eventual goal of a site-specific performance based on historical and experiential research at the Nissequogue River State Park.
Stony Brook University's Body Mind Lab, housed at the Center for Dance, Movement and Somatic Learning, provides a home for Sullivan's experimental processes, applied physical research and creative work. Sullivan has designed innovative methods of teaching dance and movement through principles gleaned from traditional Dance Training, BodyMind performance skills, Laban Movement Analysis, Somatic Education and Therapy, DanceTheatre Techniques, Improvisation, Leadership Training, Techniques of Inner Action (Bruehl), Actor Training, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Religious Studies, Feldenkrais, Business Management and Community Relations. She has pursued her interest in developing interdisciplinary bodymind performance work for over 30 years; and has taught a host of students who have experimented with the connections between dance and mathematics, cellular biology, anthropology, sociology, medical studies, world religions, theatre, health sciences, design, visual art, media and many more academic disciplines.
In addition to dance and performance classes, Sullivan has presented and taught her work on Physical Intelligence (begun in 1996) as "the dynamic interplay of creativity, imagination and critical thinking revealed through presence, action and performance". She has developed theories and practice on Body Narratives (2001), and MindBody Performance throughout her career as a physical researcher and educator. In 1997, Sullivan originally created “It’s Your Move!” a children’s program that investigates collaborative and interdisciplinary learning based in the body. It includes “Dance Me a Story”, “Move into Math”, “Create a Moving History” and “Just Imagine How it Moves”. In 2010-2011, her educational projects expanded to "Voices of Action/Bodies of Change" and "Singing Hope with the Whole Body". Her educational and research projects include TIL (the Traveling Innovation Lab) and The Body Matters Series.
Sullivan's teaching and creative work have taken her to Korea, China, Mexico, France, The United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, The Netherlands and throughout the US. In 2008, she was invited by the Acadiana Arts Council in Lafayette, Louisiana to work with artists to recover their creative voice after the effects of hurricane Katrina through "Project Alive!".
Sullivan is currently involved in developing a community think tank which includes people who are experiencing Parkinson's Disease and colleagues from across disciplines on the SBU campus. The STMU Lab (Solutions that Move Us) was created by Sullivan in 2014 and provides the structure and framework for experimentations in areas of creativity and movement and how they enhance health and well-being. Projects within the Lab include experimental research for the training of various populations and for the development of innovative products to meet human need. Her work collaborates with colleagues from Electrical Engineering, Neurobiology, Psychiatry, and Neuroscience at Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Medicine.
As an active choreographer, Amy Yopp Sullivan has participated on the international, national, regional and local levels. Her work includes participation at the International Festival of Dance and Community in Almada, Portugal; The American Choreographer’s Showcase in Mexico City at the International Festival of Dance in the Americas, and site performances in the Netherlands, Paris, Hong Kong and Seoul. Her work was produced by the John Drew Theatre at Guild Hall in East Hampton, the T. Schrieber Studio in NYC, Avram Theatre in Southampton, American College Dance Festival Galas, Summer Stock Musical Theatre Seasons in Illinois and International New Music Festivals throughout the country. Her choreography and dance/theatre productions have been presented at the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University. In 2008, she studied and performed at the Bessie Schoenberg Experienced Choreographer’s Lab at Dance Theatre Workshop in New York City, directed by Keely Garfield and Lawrence Goldhuber. In 2014, she was part of The Field's signature salon under the facilitation of writer and performer, James Scruggs. In the summer of 2015, she studied with Ralph Lemon at the Bessie Lab for Dance Composition at New York Live Arts. Her first film project Sea Bourne, a work in progress shown in 2009, explores the place of the moving body in documentary film-making and examines our relationship to the sea. She continues to develop her screenplay “The Woman Who Lived Next Door", which incorporates the moving body into a full-length feature film.
Sullivan's dancetheatre performance work, Shirtwaist: Legacies Woven to Wear was performed at the 10th Annual "Re-Invisioning Immigration" Event at the Wang Center at Stony Brook University in May of 2010. Sullivan developed and conceived of the site-installation work Sensorium, directing her students in their own choreographies and performances interfacing with movement and visual art for Erasing Borders, an international exhibit of Indian Art at the Charles B Wang Center.
Throughout the past years, Sullivan’s artistic work has received funding and/or support from the New York State Council for the Arts (administered through the Huntington Arts Council), The New York Foundation for the Arts, the Herman Goldman Foundation in New York City, Chase Manhattan Bank Restart Program and JPMorgan/Chase Artist Reachout Program (administered through the Huntington Arts Council), The Greater Port Jefferson/Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, The East End Arts Council, The United University Professionals Union, The State University of New York at Stony Brook, The Village of Port Jefferson, The Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County Cultural and Economic Development, Suffolk County Legislature, Long Island Maritime Museum, Long Island Seaport and Ecological Center and private donors.
As an educator, Amy Yopp Sullivan has received a national Lilly Endowment Teaching Fellowship, the Presidential Merit Award from Western Illinois University, The President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching at SUNY-Stony Brook, and The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from the State University of New York. She is a member of the Blue Key Honor Fraternity, an Honorary Member of the International Golden Key Society, and a Distinguished Member of the Society for Collegiate Scholars. Sullivan was honored for Excellence in the Arts from the Town of Brookhaven, based on her educational and community outreach. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro named Sullivan as a recipient of the Ethel Martus Lawther Alumni Award. In 1999, Sullivan was selected as one of 250 national artists designated as the “most skilled and experienced artist in communities” by the MidAtlantic Arts Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
In 2000-2001, Sullivan spearheaded The Shoe Project and The Great Shoe Giveaway, giving 15,000 donated dance shoes, with accompanying dance classes to disadvantaged communities on Long Island and in NYC. This project collaborated with numerous divisions and programs at Stony Brook University and over fifteen community centers and organizations throughout Long Island to send dance out for their residents.
Amy Yopp Sullivan’s career can be described as an effort in cross-pollination. As an artisteducator, she draws upon the knowledge, values and experiences of a variety of people, and then shapes the art to represent their unique and significant voice. Her work spirals out of networks of creativity, imagination and the body. She uncovers honest, evocative vocabularies, and seeks to make meaning in our lives and world through inquiry, innovation and collaboration.