Cas Burns is a freelance multimedia artist currently based in southern Maine. Their work lives within the intersection of dance and technology, manifesting as choreography, experimental film, production design, photography, graphic design, written scholarship, and combinations therein. Cas holds an MFA in Choreography & Performance from SUNY Brockport, where they were awarded Outstanding Graduate Student in the Department of Dance and received the Distinguished Professor Award for Graduate Student Research in support of their masters thesis project on the integration of video technology into live dance performance and its resulting impact on perceived dancer agency. Always eager to bring their creative practice into the classroom, Cas has also served on faculty at Wells College and SUNY Brockport, where they’ve taught courses in dance on camera, modern technique, and dance history, among other topics.
As a maker, Cas’s work straddles the line between stage and screen, drawing upon their background in dance film to craft interdisciplinary movement-based projects. They are especially interested in exploring the juxtaposition of what’s possible within the human body and what’s possible through technology. While this often lives in the world of abstraction, some of their work gets more personal as they interrogate their own embodiment of gender and queerness, particularly as it relates to their consumption of popular media. Cas’s work has been adjudicated into numerous performances in both academic and professional settings, including Right Now (Medford, MA); Tiny & Short: A Drop in the Bucket (Cambridge, MA); Women’s Work (Detroit, MI); Experimental Film Virginia (Cape Charles, VA); ACDA Northeast Regional Conference (Randolph, NJ); Dances at MuCCC, Leap Day Dances, Merged VII, Morning Dances (Rochester, NY); DANCE/Hartwell, Tiny Dances (Brockport, NY); and WAXworks (Brooklyn, NY). Currently, Cas is using their time in lockdown to explore social media installations and augmented reality as avenues for virtual dance performances.
Cas also investigates their research interests off stage through various written publications and presentations. Their paper “Dancing Cameras: An Analysis of the Use of the Moving Camera in Video Dance” was presented at The III International Meeting of Screendance in Valencia, Spain, and their lecture demonstration “Dance, Gender, and the Biopsychosocial Model” has been accepted to the 8th Annual Somatic Dance Conference and Performance Festival in Geneva, NY (currently on hold due to COVID-19). As a dance educator, they also write collaboratively on dance pedagogy, including their presentation with Jaclyn Waguespack on “Dance on Camera: Engaging Students Through the Integration of Dance and Technology,” which was presented at the Tufts University-Wide Teaching Conference on Inclusive Excellence: Teaching and Learning in an Increasingly Interconnected World, and their article “Activist Adjuncts: Reimagining Power and Privilege Through Antiracist Pedagogy,” which was co-written with Alexia Buono, Janet Schroeder, and Mariko Yamada for The Activist History Review. Cas is also working on adapting their master’s thesis “Performing the Dance/Screen Duet: A Phenomenological Analysis of the Integration of Video Technology into Live Contemporary Modern Dance Performance” and their grad school project “[Hyper]Reality TV: Video Editing as Postmodern Visual Rhetoric” for possible publication.
In addition to their own projects, they also enjoy collaborating with other artists to provide technical support in the form of stage management, lighting and projection design, and virtual concert production. Most notably, they work as the Technical Director for Tallahassee-based MKrep. and as a Production Artist with Experimental Film Virginia, where they get to assume a variety of creative roles, both in front of and behind the camera. Cas’s specialty is video editing for dance, collaborating with choreographers such as Jenise Anthony, Ashley A. Friend, James Hansen, Amy Slocum, and Jaclyn Waguespack to produce dance-based media for the screen. These skills were particularly sought after during the COVID-19 pandemic when they helped SUNY Brockport and Tufts University produce virtual versions of their annual Graduation Dances and Fall Dance Concert, respectively.
Cas is also adept at using their tech skills for documentation and marketing. As a graduate student at SUNY Brockport, they were responsible for filming all departmental concerts, archiving the footage, and making it available to students. Since graduating, Cas has done independent documentation videography and photography for dance artists such as Tammy Carrasco, Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp, and Zachary Frazee. They also enjoy using their 2D design skills for dance marketing projects. Cas has made promotional materials for MKrep. as well as a new website for artistic director Maddie Kurtz, various digital graphics for the 2019 ACDA Northeast Regional Conference at SUNY Brockport, and flyers, posters, and social media images for Dixie State University’s Dance Department.