photo: will kerner
Zap McConnell's 2018 Bio:Zap McConnell began investigating dance/movement performance at North Carolina School of the Arts (NCSA) in 1988. Upon leaving NCSA, she began traveling, splitting her time between performance, visual arts and direct environmental activism in Northern California, NYC, Idaho, Mexico, Costa Rica and Colorado. Zap has been involved with the Zen Monkey Project (ZMP) since 1995 performing, teaching, stage managing, producing and directing evening-length pieces. She facilitated the New Dance Space and co-facilitated Studio 11 at the McGuffey Art Center, organized performance festivals and ZMP’s summer dance intensives. Zap is also a visual artist who regularly creates and prints cartoon books, paints, makes murals, sculpture and who builds performance installation sets that also include lights and costumes. Zap has been a main organizer for many large scale community endeavors, spanning from a huge local artist created carnival (A Charlottesville Wunderkammer), to an in-depth political community weekend investigating the past and present of Native Americans (Columbus Day; Myth and the American Dream), to the adoption, with the stream ecology class, of a highly impaired stream for over ten years. Zap was a full time core teacher at the Living Education Center for Ecology and the Arts, an alternative high school in Charlottesville, Virginia, for almost a decade.Since 2008, Zap has split her time between U.S.A. and Mexico; and between performances, art shows and teaching. In Mexico Zap started her connection by a commission from Performatica (an International Dance Festival) to make a site specific performance on the campus of UDLAP, working with students of Dance and Visual Arts in order to explore the history of the land. She has returned countless times as a guest artist, teaching and making extensive work with UDLAP students, at Performatica 6 times and working with local artists in Cholula/Puebla. In the U.S.A. Zap has had over a dozen art shows (N.C./V.A.), created @hand productions, been part of many Dance Festivals, planned/produced/participated in countless Artistic Residencies, and performed/built sets/ran tech/toured/consulted for Theater/Art/Dance groups. Zap co-created the Chicken Bank Collective (CBC), an interdisciplinary and international arts collective, the fall of 2014, then relocated to North Carolina to create her art studio: CABIN. Zap (with-in CBC) has been invited to be part of On-site/In-site Dance Festival 2 years in a row (Spring 2016/2017). She is currently screening her first feature length Dance for Film: Secondary Succession she directed and co-created with CBC.
Zap McConnell is a local NC native that has been consistently contributing to her creative community with her work for the last 28 years through her endeavors in visual arts, movement, dance, and film as a director, co-creator, and teacher. Zap is a director/producer/performer of multimedia site specific performance experiences.
All of Zap’s work is animated by passionate beliefs and values that flower out of her fierce love of the natural world. Art, education, collaboration, and activism have been interwoven throughout her life. Zap approaches her work with the challenge to do things that mean something to her while helping the communities/bioregions she is a part of. Through the years, her focus on sustainability has manifested in dreamscapes of image, movement, and music, informing not only the content of the performances but the processes by which that work was created.
Since 1995 Zap has been a directing member of Zen Monkey Project; founded @hand productions; co-created Chicken Bank Collective (an international interdisciplinary arts collective); Produced/created/directed the unearthing (an international site-specific installation based dance performance shown in the USA and Mexico); had commissioned large scale art installations in NC and VA; and has been involved in set development of the play Pip and Twig over 4 renditions, including the Fringe Festival in Scotland. Zap has had over 25 art shows in NC, VA and Mexico and currently is a member of McGuffey Art Center.
~Over twenty eight years of experience as a professional visual artist: painting, drawing, printing, book & paper making, installations, mixed media sculpture, costuming and lighting.
~Twenty six years of professional Dance and Theater performance in Virginia, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Scotland and Mexico.
~Twenty two years of teaching from Montessori age to adult.
~Self-produced and commissioned primarily in North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, California and Mexico.
~1995-present Director & Performer, Zen Monkey Project, Group of Contemporary Movement Artists.
~Highly involved in the creative process of all aspects of performance.
~Member of McGuffey Art Center since 2004. (Charlottesville,VA)
~Formed @hand productions 2010.
~Co-Created Chicken Bank Collective 2014.
North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, NC 1988-1991.
Workshops in Craft Arts with: MaryAnn Zotto and Kathy Steinberger (Penland) in Drawing/Painting/Bookmaking through the Johnson Legacy Fund for Art Full Scholarship, Kip O’Krongley (Penland) in Clay through Special Work Study Scholarship, Karen Kunc (Penland) in Print Making through the awarded Ann Skipper McAden Scholarship, Preston Lawing (Penland) in Print Making, Lisa Pressman (Penland) in Encaustic Painting, Russell Richards (McGuffey Art Center) in Print Making.
Workshops in Dance with: Nancy Stark Smith, K.J. Holmes, Ishmael Houstan-Jones, Ray Elliot Schwartz, Katharine Birdsall, Savitre Durkee, Karl Frost, Brad Stoller, Pina Bausch Dance Company, Sigfrido Aguilar, Performatica and many Contact Improvisation and Improvisation Festivals west coast and east coast of the U.S.A..
2017 Collaborative Show with Liz Simmons, Delurk Gallery (NC)
2017 Commissions: Native Pond
2017 Commissions: ARTivism
2016/2015/2013 Krankies Holiday Craft Fair
2014 Julie Rothschild Movement Studio (CO)
2014 Native Pond: Architectural Details/for Dance/Sound Studios (VA)
2013/2011/2009/2005 Electric Moustache Gallery (NC)
2013 Consultant, Wilders Grove Project, a community based public art piece featured in the Platinum Leed Recycling Center (Raleigh,NC)
2013 House Salon/Encaustic Paintings (VA)
2012 Group Show, Installation in the UNEARTHING (VA)
2011 Ciudad Mural Project, Muralist (Puebla, Mexico)
2010 Huge Wall Commission, Mary’s Gourmet Diner (NC)
2009/2007/2005/2002/2001 Mary’s of Course (NC)
2009 Life blood of the Black Lamb Installation (Mexico)
2007/2011 Blue Moon Diner (VA)
2005 designed an Art-0-Mat (VA,NC)
2004 Installation based on Three of Swords/Twisted Branch Tea Haus (VA)
2004 Group Show, The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative (Charlottesville,VA)
2018 Voces Que Ven CBC Residency (Mexico)
2018 Performatica: From the Outside back In with CBC (Mexico)
2017 The Practice of Making, North Columbia School House (CA)
2017 Guest Art Teacher, Watershed High School (Boulder,CO)
2017 Guest Artist, On Site/In Sight Dance Festival (Winston-Salem,NC)
2016 Guest Artist, A Common Practice, hosted by Helen Simoneau & Jessie Laurita-Spanglet (Winston-Salem,NC)
2016 On-site/In-site Dance Festival (Winston-Salem,NC)
2016 CBC Spring Residency/Chrysalis: Improvisation, Dance for Screen workshop at Light House, Movement for after school kids (Charlottesville,VA)
2008-2016 Choreography,Technique of Performance, Somatics, Composition, Improvisation and Site Specific Work as a periodical Guest Artist (Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP)( México)
2016 Performatica: Site-Specific Improvisation, Composition and Performance (Mexico)
2014-2015 The Practice of Making/Co-Creator and Teacher of Intensive (Boulder,CO and Charlottesville,VA)
2014 Performatica: Moving Awareness Garden Walk/Creating Performing Scores/Co-teaching Ritual-Dance-Theater: Exquisite Corpse (Mexico)
2012 Performatica: Multidisciplinary Lab: taught by all core players in the UNEARTHING (Mexico)
2011 Performatica: Improvisation, Creating Dance workshops, Site-Specific Lab, Environmental Lab (Mexico)
2011 Body of Knowledge, part of lab (residency with Karl Frost @ UC Davis)
2009 Performatica: site specific investigations workshops (Mexico)
1998-2008 Creative Arts Director/Instructor, Living Education Center for Ecology and the Arts, (Charlottesville, VA) Taught high school level Studio Art, Creative Writing, Native American Issues, Body image, Movement, Ancient Cultures, Ecology as well as led Council, Camping Trips, Community Service and Adopted the Schenks Branch of Meadow Creek.
2000-2006 Teacher, Zen Monkey Project Summer Intensive, (Charlottesville, VA) Taught college/pre-professional level improvisation, composition, performance skills. Co-Directed and Coordinated Summer Intensive in 2002 and 2006.
2000 Art Instructor, Sawtooth Center for the Arts, (Winston-Salem, NC)
1997 Salt, (Charlottesville,VA) Zen Monkey Project(ZMP) Performer
1997 This Body This Earth,(Charlottesville,VA)(ZMP) Performer
1998 Locust,(Charlottesville,VA)(ZMP) Producer/Stage Manage
2000 Charlottesville Festival of Contemporary Dance and Improvisation in Performance,(Charlottesville,VA) (ZMP)Performer
2001 To Once Apon…,(Charlottesville,VA)(ZMP) Performer
2001 Charlottesville Festival of Contemporary Dance and Improvisation in Performance,(Charlottesville,VA) (ZMP) Artistic Director/Producer/Performer
2002 The Living Education Center for Ecology and the Arts Dance Benefit,(Charlottesville,VA) Co-Director/Performer
2004 Three of Swords,(Charlottesville,VA)(ZMP) Creator/Producer/Director/Set,Lighting and Costume designer.
2005 The Palimpsest, (Charlottesville,VA)(ZMP)Set Designer/Performer
2006 A Charlottesville Wunderkammer, (Charlottesville,VA) Creator/Artistic & Technical Director/Performer.
2007 Columbus/Myth and the American Dream Revisited,(Charlottesville,VA) Co-creator/Producer Organized Nationally Acclaimed writers and speakers for a weekend of community educational events.
2007 Close Quarters, facilitated by Guest director Karl Frost (Charlottesville,VA)/ Performer
2008 Vinculus, Performatica,(UDLAP, Mexico) Creator/Director/Site Specific Installation Artist/Teacher
2008/2009/2010, Ofrenda de Movento, (México) Co-director (2008) Performer/Installation Artist (2008/2009/2010)
2009 Viva la dif LIVEarts dance festival, (Charlottesville,VA) (ZMP)Co-Director/performer
2009 The Life Blood Of the Black Lamb,(Mexico) Director/Set/Props/Costume Designer
2009 Zen Monkey Project hour @ Performatica,(Mexico)(ZMP) Co-Director/performer
2010 Invisible Spines,(Premier at the Grand Opening of Dog Town Dance Theater, Richmond, VA) Director/Set and Costume Designer 2010 Leaps and Bounds,(Premier USA tour) Technical Director/Lighting designer/Crew
2011 Out of Thin Air,(Mexico) Director
2011 Body of Knowledge,(San Francisco,CA) Performer/Teacher
2012 The UNEARTHING, (Premier in Charlottesville,Va USA/International Exchange in Puebla, Mexico) Artistic Director/Producer/Teacher an international exchange, site-specific installation dance theater performance and community educational event.
2012 Madwoman Project,(Charlottesville,VA) Guest Artist Designer of Sets,Costume,Props,Lights/Crew
2013 Animal,(Atlanta,GA) Assistant Director,Performer,Costumer
2014 Animal,Performatica,(Mexico) Assistant Director,Performer,Costumer
2015 Alloy,(Boulder/Colorado Springs CO) Co-Creator/Performer/Producer
2016 Permeabilidad Espontanae,(Cholula,Mexco) Director/Producer
2016 Bitacora Performativa (Performatica,UDLAP, Mexico) Co-Creator/Director
2016 On-Site/In-Sight Dance Festival, (Winston-Salem,NC) Performer
2016 Chrysalis (Charlottesville,VA) Co-Creator/Performer/Producer
2016 Pip and Twig (Charlottesville,VA) Co-Design Build Set/Lighting/Technical Director
2016 Pip and Twig (Fringe Festival,Edinboro,Scotland) Co-Design and Build Set/Lighting/Technical Director
2017 On-Site/In-Sight Dance Festival (Winston-Salem, NC) Performer
2017 Pip and Twig (Charlottesville,VA) Paint and Co-Build Set
2015-2017 Secondary Succession (Olympic Peninsula) Director/Co-Creator/Costumer/Producer. Screened in VA, NC, CO, CA and Mexico
2010 Leaps and Bounds,(Charlottesville,VA) (The Film),Project Manager
Zap’s artistic statement:
To dedicate my life to creating the ecology of compassion for all living things through the arts, education and activism.
As a working artist, educator, performer whose investigations are animated by passionate beliefs and visions that flower out of my fierce love of the natural world; I have dedicated my actions to the following guidelines, in whatever work I pursue:
● to support my explorations with rigor, discipline, integrity and experimentation.
● to work collaboratively with peers on all elements of a work.
● to strive to utilize all aspects of the work with the most efficiency, giving attention to reusing/reducing use of resources, respecting the community/ecosystem we are based in, and each other while simultaneously passionately pursuing the artistic vision of the project.
● to find a sustainable way to work that cares for our visions and ideals, our bodies, minds, emotional life, families, friends, and basic life sustaining needs; while living in right relationship with our planet.
● to create an empowering community within each project, networking with surrounding and international communities.
● to encourage emerging artists of all genres; as well as offering classes/workshops wherever I go.
● to engage in a creative process that helps all involved gain a greater insight into themselves, how they connect with others and the world they are part of.
● to search for meaningful stories, subjects, curiosities to make work about; especially: the abstract, the symbolic, the literal, the activist voice, the ridiculous and just pure entertainment.
● to be in the moment as much as possible, while balancing all of these goals with living a fulfilling compassionate life.
● to respond to the specific site we are in, really using: whatever is at hand.