Meghan Varner is a Seattle-based dancer, choreographer, musician, and writer. She studied at Woodinville Dance Academy through high school before spending a year in Spectrum Dance Theatre's Academy program. She graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in spring of 2019 with a BFA in dance. Her primary musical instrument is the flute, which she studied at Cornish under Paul Taub and Leanna Keith. Also a pianist and singer, her work today strongly draws from her interdisciplinary training and the idea that all art forms are pieces of a whole.
Photo by Joseph Lambert
Art should be accessible. It shouldn’t be a luxury – it should be real, casual, and available to everyone. I don’t believe in making work that is “intellectual,” I believe in making work that communicates something. Maybe not everyone will enjoy everything I make, but I hope to make at least one thing, one moment in one work, that people will connect to. I use movement I know – sometimes common movements from classic dance idioms, but more often gestures rooted in my personal needs, like tangling my limbs together to feel the pressure or intricate finger movements taken from the way I respond to anxiety or sensory overload. I’m not interested in an idealised picture of “normal” – I want to make art about the tiny oddities and ridiculous skills in everyday people, about all the ways we interact and the relationships we build and neglect.
I use the word “art” deliberately. While I don’t paint or sculpt or draw, the work I do is in many ways the same as the work of a visual artist. My dance is obviously visual, but it also connects to music, to story, to theatre. As a musician, the work I do is better for my knowledge of dance; as a writer, the same could be said. The different categories of art are useful, but in the end I see art as simply something you make. Placing one kind of art above another, assuming that all arts are automatically distinct, these things contribute to a false hierarchy. If I wrote a comic book, I would do it the same way I choreograph dances about deeply personal events – I would do it with something to say, believing wholeheartedly that I am making something that matters to someone.
It’s not about recognition, it’s about giving someone something they might not have gotten without you. Art is communication. It’s emotion. It’s about putting something into the world to make it a little bit happier.
In the end, that’s what I’m aiming for. For all the hard, dark subjects I might explore, my art is meant to offer something better along with that. It’s meant to share some kind of happiness.