“My greatest accomplishment as an artist is to stay true to the process and listen closely to what it is whispering into my soul.”
Bill Shannon says his aesthetic works exist beneath a hovering, massive and terribly bloody notion of “freedom.” Although he believes his work is obscure and often misunderstood, he’s performed, presented and choreographed around the world, both as a solo artist and for Cirque du Soleil, earning numerous awards and honours, including a Foundation for Contemporary Art Award and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. In the process he’s stolen hearts and sparked imaginations with the passion and egoless humility that fuels everything he does.
“I see no pinnacle of greatness in my own accomplishments that might outshine the importance and value to me of my creative process,” he says. “The unique intersection of my time on this Earth, the space I inhabited during that time and the peculiar and specific human condition I was destined to by birth are far and away the greatest determinants of what I have been able to achieve as an artist and as a human.”
Shannon, who is at OCAD U for a President’s Speaker Series talk on Wednesday, September 18 and a performance at the Festival of the Body on September 19, is a natural storyteller working in the medium of body language — together with a massive and bold dose of experimentation. “On a micro-scale I have learned that in all contrasting and conflicting energies balance is possible in the most unexpected of ways,” he says of his work. In addition to dance and choreography, he also uses drawings, sculpture, video, writing, performance, acting, clowning, skating and speaking to express his ideas.
Shannon, who says he “feels like a duck billed platypus laying an egg” about being asked to speak at OCAD U, shaped and grew his work in the Hip-Hop and House dance movements in New York and internationally. He says the most important thing students studying in creative fields should know is that if a goal is a dream with a deadline, abandon the goal.
“Follow the dream and possibly arrive at a greater unknown that no goal or deadline could have ever been set for in the first place,” he says. “Failure happens. Failure may possibly have as many chicken-soup-for-the-soul sayings as love does. duckduckgo/copy/paste here: _____________________________. Repeat.”
Attend the lecture
See Shannon perform at the Festival of the Body
Visit Shannon's website and blog