Six Viewpoints Master Class with Mary Overlie


Six Viewpoints Master Class with Mary Overlie

at Accademia Teatro Dimitri, Switzerland, May 2018

Taught by Mary Overlie with the assistance of Nicolas Noreña and Timothy Scott.

“This masters workshop deals with horizontal narrative and story. The first days was an introduction to the pure traditional and singular practices of the “SSTEMS”  Space, Shape, Time, Emotion and Story. We then moved on to structuring narrative, beginning with a series of Viewpoints horizontal training practices then branching into individual compositions. The joy of the horizontal minds are often remote from us given that we are not taught how to locate the horizontal and are taught not to trust anything incidental, outside our control. Most of our training is still based on self generated ideas, traditional views of the artist as the creator/originator. Now we learned how to become observer/participant performers.”

*Mary Overlie is an observer/participant, a deconstructing postmodern theatre practitioner, an original anarchist. She is a woman who is not afraid of obscurity, or worried that being unknown might obscure her ideas. She prefers to remain out of the limelight in order to create. She has a deep trust and confidence in a piercing mind. At a young age she displayed an intense physical and intellectual confidence.The Theory and Practice of The Six Viewpoints were borne out that confidence with a quiet yet infectious impact.

“Observe the ingredients, the materials of performance, contemplate the particles.
Once you find them, train yourself to listen, allow them to become your teachers,
embrace them as profound partners. Allow them to create.”

Any theater artist standing in Overlie’s classroom is immediately drawn to her clarity: able to absorb, comprehend and take her teachings to heart. Throughout her many years of teaching, she has managed to articulate a very basic and functional view and practice of postmodern art. Her views on performance are clear and resilient as the views and grass on the high prairie.



For me meeting with the legendary Mary Overlie, ( the originator of Six Viewpoints)  was an incredible experience. We have been shown ways how to experiment  using the materials ( SSTEMS: Space, Shape, Time, Emotion, Story) of making theatre horizontally as observer-participant original-anarchist performers. If you also like to learn the SSTEMS from her terms and point of view the best is to read her book  : “Standing in the Space”

After this experience, I challenge myself to practice Six Viewpoints to create observer-participant non-hierarchical dance-theatre pieces everyday. I promise to practice the Floor-Bar, that she had taught us from the technique of Gene Hamilton, everyday.

I have also come across with my own weaknesses and strengths through the process. Dear Mary, thank you for accepting us all, as we are, non-exclusively with the mentality of “both and and”.

Thank you very much for this unique experience.

– Gonca Gumusayak-



**Mary Overlie is an American choreographer, dancer, theater artist, professor, author, and the originator of the Six Viewpoints technique for theater and dance. The Six Viewpoints technique is both a philosophical articulation of postmodern performance and a teaching system addressing directing, choreographing, dancing, acting, improvisation, and performance analysis.[1] The Six Viewpoints has been taught in the core curriculum of the Experimental Theater Wing within Tisch School of the Arts at New York University since its inception (1978).[2]

Overlie is the co-founder of several long lasting art institutions such as Danspace Projectthe Studies Project, Movement Research, and the Experimental Theater Wing at New York University.[1]

Her choreography, both solo and for Mary Overlie Dance Company (1978-1986), has toured extensively through Europe and has been performed in New York at the Holly Solomon Gallery, The Kitchen Center for Music, Video and Dance, St. Mark’s DanspaceDance Theater WorkshopThe Museum of Modern Art and numerous lofts in New York.[1]


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