Photo by Alexander Coggin in Melanie Jame Wolf's TONIGHT
Originally from Northern Ireland, Sheena McGrandles grew up in a working class family where contemporary dance was almost non-existent and access to any classes or training was extremely limited. Sheena learned ballet from a book and dance from television and managed to secure a place at the Laban Centre (London). This made her the first in her family to complete a university degree. She then completed the MA SODA program at the HZT/UdK Berlin, funded with an excellence scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation. Shortly after, Sheena was selected for the 8-month residency at K3, Kampnagel. From 2013-2018, in addition to her increasingly intense work as a freelance dancer and choreographer, she was a lecturer at HZT Berlin in the BA and MA SODA program. Since 2010, Sheena McGrandles has lived and worked as a dance artist in Berlin, a context that she helps to shape and that shapes her. Her practice is hybrid: she doesn't just work for the stage - she dances, choreographs, curates, hosts, consults, educates, collaborates, learns, and seeks to build new communities through the creation of free art spaces. Sheena's practice emerges in two distinct contexts - the political and the aesthetic: The political context is shaped by her work in collectives (PSR, neuehäute / agora) that run art spaces in Berlin for the exchange of different artistic and social body-based practices. The collectives work grassroots-democratically and outside institutional structures. They are committed to a process-based form of politics as well as working in the local and with diverse communities. In the aesthetic context, she works as a choreographer and dancer, investing primarily in form, virtuosity, and ongoing learning about the body. She is concerned with understanding and articulating the body and movement through a focus on radical temporality. Sheena explores how she can break down the body and movement by slowing it down or hyper-editing it. This draws attention to the many moments of in-between and turns the mundane into spectacle. Recently, Sheena's work has also taken a biographical turn, adding work with text and song as new elements to the specific dance choreographic language she has developed over the years. She has explored the genre of the musical in her most recent work, DAWN: A Musical on Reproduction, and has already submitted proposals for a new work at the intersection of folk dance and opera. Sheena presents her work nationally and internationally, including London (The Place), Amsterdam (something raw), Helsinki (moving in November), Berlin (Sophiensaele), Mexico City (Museo Universitario Del Chopo), and Los Angeles (PSSST). In recent years, Sheena's work has gained increasing visibility and recognition; she has been invited to Tanzplattform Deutschland twice: with FIGURED in 2020 and with FLUSH in 2022. In the Tanz 2021 yearbook, she was mentioned in the critics' poll as 'most interesting choreographer' for the piece FLUSH. Sheena is currently working on, MINT - a folk-opera on money (premiere 2024 HAU Hebbel am Ufer), explores the relationship between money and class.