The Performer is the performing persona of Gillian Rhodes.
Gillian is an American dancer, choreographer, and storyteller. The Performer is a non-binary, chameleon type of character, a vehicle for the creative and sometimes mad ideas of their creator. They always appear as a solo act, and wear the public face of the artist.
Along with The Performer, Gillian’s work is a constant study in, through, and across the borders of culture, discipline, and media. She started training in ballet at the age of five and majored in dance at Columbia University in New York. Since 2012, she has been living in Cambodia, South Korea, and now Pakistan, and integrates the experiences and learnings of navigating new societies, languages, cultures, and artistic styles into everything she creates.
Due to her unique position in the places she lives and the work she does, Gillian’s work is inevitably the product of the dynamic tension of boundaries: understanding them, respecting them, challenging them, blurring them. In Cambodia, she introduced musical theatre and contemporary dance to a government TV channel. Her performing group, which included both classically trained folk dancers and a break-dancer, performed at an international festival in Malaysia. In South Korea, she was one of the only foreign dancers in the contemporary dance scene.
As a member of Second Nature Dance Company, Gillian was involved in the creation of Bit Sapiens, a multimedia performance speculating on the future of humanity. The performance was awarded the 2018 Dance vision “Frontier Spirit Award.”
Now in Pakistan, Gillian is a leader of the budding contemporary dance scene. She co-taught the first accredited choreography course in a Pakistani university and helped introduce the first monthly choreography exhibition. She has performed Punjabi bhangra and kathak with Versatile Dance Company all around the country, and has appeared in numerous commercials and campaigns as a model and actress.
In 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gillian dove into the world of digital creations, developing dramatic, site specific live Instagram performances, finding stages in everything from her stove top to her closet.
Find out more about Gillian below, or click here to see her full CV
- Gillian is a lifelong astronomy/astrophysics enthusiast. In 2020 she started blending her love of astronomy with her artistic work. She also created and hosts a live show on Twitch for CosmoQuest, a product of the Planetary Science Institute, on the intersections of Astronomy and Art, and was interviewed in the Colloquium section for the SciArt Initative.
- In the end of 2019, Gillian appeared in a video with cricket legend Shoaib Akhter during a TV commercial shoot which went viral and ended up with its own memes. During her stay in Pakistan, she has given interviews for numerous television channels, including the BBC Urdu Service, Dawn News, and more.
- Gillian has self-published a novel and a short story collection on Amazon and has written numerous articles, essays, and poems, which are available in her blog.
- Gillian has performed twice at TEDx Events: TedxVannes in France in 2017, and TedxLahoreWomen in Pakistan in 2018.
- In March 2017, Gillian was a panelist at the World of Tomorrow conference in Islamabad, Pakistan. Gillian spoke on the panel “Art Without Boundaries” alongside four others, including the driving force behind Pakistan’s well-known truck art and Pakistani dance legend, Ms. Sheema Karmani. (@SOTEvents on Twitter and Facebook).
- In 2017, Gillian recorded two seasons of an original podcast “It’s an artful life!” For this, she interviewed 24 people from all over the world and all kinds of industries on how they engage with art on a daily basis. During the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, she released a special 8 episode season talking specifically to Pakistani artists on their experience.
- In 2016, Gillian completed a year-long mentorship under Korean artist HeJin Jang and worked as a researcher at Jang’s Global Institute for Cultural Embodiment and Performing Arts (CEPA). She co-designed a three-month research project on immigrant artists in Korea, which included a survey and a community workshop. Her analysis of the survey results can be found here.
- Gillian speaks five languages: English, French, Korean, Khmer, and Urdu.