An Interview with Narrative 4 Artist, Ann Law

This month, to celebrate International Women’s History Month, we’ve asked our staff to nominate some of the amazing women working within the Narrative 4 community, to uplift their work and express our sincere appreciation for their commitment to N4’s core beliefs. These women truly embody compassionate change-making in the world and are doing the work to build support and connection in their communities.

As an improvisational dancer, choreographer/director, dance educator and activist, Ann has spent twenty-four years building foundational ties to art activism in her community. The Executive Director of the Contemporary Performing Arts Theater Barking Legs and director of the Cultural Cross Ties project of Chattanooga Sister Cities, she has a clear track record of bringing thoughtful and creative community-building programs to her audiences. First connected with our organization in 2022, she immediately incorporated N4 in a multi-year project in which folks from Chattanooga are connected with residents of their sister cities, in places like Germany and Japan, to collaborate virtually and create recorded events exhibited around Chattanooga. She also incorporated the Story Exchange into a partnership between her own dance company and a visiting company, creating a stunning example of visual storytelling and the deep emotional connections built through perspective-taking.

In conversation with Ann

1.What’s the most important thing we should know about you?

I am a dance improvisor. For me, this sometimes means that I can spend months creating a dance structure, a written score that embraces different elements that are not specifically movement related. These structures are intended to place all my decision-making in the moment, inside a terrain that I want to explore. Because dance is an abstract art form, leaving many people confused or unable to “get it” I also work with different sound scores, spoken texts, storytelling options that can bring my audience further inside the dance. I believe that making dances can help transform and broaden thoughtful conversations for positive changes in our communities. 

2. What excites you about the work of Narrative 4? What drew you to this work? Why does it matter?

Narrative 4 enhances listening; engaging on a different frequency through sharing a personal story that is in the moment. Very similar to the art of improvisation, we are able to hear the heartbeats, feel the panic and the change of temperature, and we are able to be present in real time so that we can understand that judgment prevents us from connecting.

3. Can you share a brief story about a time when your work with N4 felt especially impactful? (i.e. an experience with an exemplary partner, a lesson learned, a favorite Story Exchange or Artist event, etc.)

After participating in a Narrative 4 workshop, I became interested in how I might share this work with the dance community. A wonderful opportunity presented itself for me to work with two very diverse dance communities (one from Chattanooga, TN and one from New York City, NY). After sharing who we are and moving together, I selected specific pairs that might engage in the Narrative 4 format in slightly different ways. This 2 hour workshop was immediately shared in a performance with a live audience. The result was full of surprises and took us all to a totally different place!

Read our interviews with other nominees and participate in our International Women’s History month campaign here!