Richard WhiteMudwoman


Richard WhiteMudwoman


Premiere Performance at the Vancouver Playhouse 1990

Original music composition: Jeff Corness
Choreography and Performance: Karen Jamieson
Costumes: Susan Berganzi

The idea for Mudwoman emerged while walking in the mudflats of a bay on the coast of British Columbia. I had an impulse to cover my body with the clay of the mudflats. As it dried in the sun, it dried all cracked and full of wrinkles to become like an ancient body. I felt I was transforming from young to old, I felt the ever shifting relationship between the earthly body of flesh and the energy body of spirit. I felt a thousand years old.

Over the course of the performance, under the intense heat of the stage lights, a layer of wet clay over my body dries to dust on my skin. This brings into relief a myriad of lines and fissures, invisible to the eye when the clay was wet, now as clearly delineated as a dry riverbed in drought.

This process resonates as metaphor for the relentless transformation of our bodies through time. Mudwoman is a meditation on the body as a temporal garment, subject to time and the transformation processes of aging.



Pacific Northwest Magazine

February 1990

The Arts
“Grand Eloquence”
By Heather Doran Barbieri

“Jamieson is a visionary choreographer, respected for the evolution of her dance language – one that synthesizes primal archetypal images with the animating principles of the early modernists, one that is driven by an uncompromising, rhythmic physicality. Jamieson describes her creative process this way: ‘I’ll start with an image or movement quality. The idea is the question. I don’t know where it will take me…But the resulting piece is always a surprise - it is a response, the answer.’

A couple of years ago, Jamieson confronted one of these idea-questions at her cabin retreat. She covered herself with mud and sat in the sun. ‘By the time the mud dried. I felt a thousand years old, ancient,’ she says, ‘I was dealing with the notion of transformation – from young to old’

This character, the ‘Mud Woman’ appeared in a work titled Rainforest. But Jamieson wanted to develop her persona more fully. So the ‘Mud Woman’ has become the focus for a new solo work to premiere February 2 and 3 at the Vancouver Playhouse along with two other pieces, The Man Within and a work-in-progress that is yet to be titled.”

Vancouver Sun
Sun July 7, 2001

Festival takes the right steps
Dancing on the Edge Festival

By Deborah Meyers

“…and Karen Jamieson’s Mudwoman, a clay-caked solo created in 1987 and reprised several times since, a study of ecstatic possession and transformation.”