Carl Flink

Artistic Director, Associate Professor/Chair, Tenant, Founding B, Black Label Movement, University of Minnesota Theatre Arts & Dance, The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts & The Univ
Minneapolis, MN, United States

About Carl

Bio

Carl Flink is the choreographer and artistic director of the movement theater Black Label Movement based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN (www.blacklabelmovement.com). He is also the endowed Nadine Jette Sween Professor of Dance and Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

From 1992 – 1998, he was member of the New York City based Limón Dance Company, performing the works of Jose Limón, Donald McKayle, Ralph Lemon, and Daniel Nagrin among others. A short list of other dance companies and choreographers he has performed for includes Creach/Koester Men Dancing, Paul Taylor, Joanna Mendl Shaw, Paul Taylor, Janis Brenner and Shapiro & Smith Dance.

His choreography is recognized and embraced for its intense athleticism, daring risk taking and humanistic themes that often address diverse social, scientific, political and working class subjects in addition to more abstract dance approaches. Dance programs and arts institutions across the United States have presented or commissioned his choreography including the Bates Dance Festival, Minnesota Orchestra, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, Stanford University, University of Iowa, Mount Holyoke College, Brigham Young University, Carleton College and Roger Williams University. His new commission "HIT" for the Chicago-based dance company premiered at The Dance Center of Columbia College of Chicago March 10, 2011. He is currently in the third year of a creative collaboration called The Moving Cell Project with biomedical engineer David Odde. He created two presentations with BLM and John Bohannon for the 2011 TEDx Brussels, including the internet hit, "A Modest Proposal."

Beyond the dance world, he graduated from Stanford Law School in 2001 and worked as a staff attorney with Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc. protecting the legal rights of low-income family farmers and promoting sustainable agriculture until 2004. He also holds a B.A. in Political Science and Women Studies, summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota.

Languages

English

Areas of Expertise

Choreography, Performance, Concert Dance, Farm Law, Academic Lea

Comments & conversations

143577
Carl Flink
Posted over 1 year ago
John Bohannon: Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal
Dmitri: Thanks for responding too. I don't think we are trying to contend that there is a "necessity to illustrate" any point via dance, but just floating the liberating idea that perhaps there are times when in can be highly useful. One of our meta-ideas for this talk was simply the idea of questioning the tendency for people to default to powerpoint to explain their ideas. Our talk in many ways is encouraging people to think out of that box and using dance as one possible example.
143577
Carl Flink
Posted over 1 year ago
John Bohannon: Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal
Dear Ana: One of the really intriguing situation that continues to arise in comments about this talk is how commenters focus on John Bohannon and not Black Label Movement and the dance artists who made this verbal/nonverbal conversation possible. I know in TEDland the tendency is to ascribe the "big" idea to the single speaker, but in this Talk BLM & John are making the commentary whether through words or our bodies. Just a little food for thought. ;) Carl Flink Artistic Director Black Label Movement
143577
Carl Flink
Posted over 1 year ago
John Bohannon: Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal
Dear Daniel: Thank you for posting this thoughtful comment. The final section where the movers were finally allowed to "just dance" was originally 2-3 minutes in length rather than the one minute in the video. A couple of days before the TEDx Brussels 2011 was held the organizers decided that the presentations needed to be 10 minutes in length rather than 15. We had to make a number of editing decisions to reduce length and one of the reductions was to shorten the length of the final dance before lights come down. However, I would also throw out that the dancers are moving while the lights are doing dark, which could imply that they keep on dancing. That was my intention at least as director/choreographer. I realize that for some dance artists who experience this video the subservience of the performers to the "scientist" is uncomfortable, but as you point out it is used for social critique and commentary. If you recall the source of our "Modest Proposal" being Swift's own "Modest Proposal" about eating the excess poor children in his country, we are not trying to pull any punches on the discomfort front. Another thought I have is that this is not supposed to be a only "dance" it is a fusing of multiple media and disciplines e.g. scriptwriting, directing, choreography, science, embodied artmaking, theater, videography, etc. It is a hybrid of the traditional TED Talk.
143577
Carl Flink
Posted over 1 year ago
John Bohannon: Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal
Hello Dmitri: Thank you for this thoughtful post. One of the misconceptions about our talk is that John and I are saying dancers should be used to fully replace powerpoint. Our effort is to criticize the over reliance on powerpoint that leads to poor quality and unnecessary powerpoint presentations simply because that is what is expected. There are plenty of very good uses for powerpoint. We are also playing with Swift's famous essay to make critical jabs at the undervaluing of artists like dancers particularly in the United States. In this Talk, John mentions biomedical engineer David Odde and my company BLM's collaboration with him. This is a substantive research project that is developing a scientific research technique called "bodystorming" and also impacting the creation of my art. Here is a link to a Science Magazine article about this collaboration: http://news.sciencemag.org/2012/11/bodystorming-dance-grooves-show-how-molecules-move We were also invited to write an article about this technique in the scholarly journal Trend in Cellular Biology. Here is the link to the citation info.: https://www.cell.com/trends/cell-biology/abstract/S0962-8924(12)00183-3 As to your own "modest proposal," I would suggest that you remember that dancers speak with both their bodies and mouths. We live in a world that needs to question disciplinary walls that keep dancers in their "appropriate" places. One difference between our talk and some of the state creations under the former Soviet Union is ours was not done to appease a commissar's political agenda or propagandize to a public without access to relatively free information. Finally, I think you may not have watched the entire video because the end sequence supports your desire. In the end, we also point out that it is also a good thing to just let the dancers dance.
143577
Carl Flink
Posted over 1 year ago
John Bohannon: Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal
Thank you! We're actually not advocating for the elimination of Powerpoints, just encouraging people to avoid the time wasted by unnecessary powerpoint presentations and the illusion of competency they can create, as well as, encouraging more collaborations between unusual partners.
143577
Carl Flink
Posted over 1 year ago
John Bohannon: Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal
Emily: I have a B.A. in Women's Studies and Political Science and a J.D. in law, as the artistic director of Black Label Movement and the choreographer/director of this Talk with John I truly understand your "surprised inquiries" comment. Happens all the time to me. You should also check out our other TED Talk "Let's Talk About Sex" on TED Education. Thanks for you sharing your thoughts.
143577
Carl Flink
Posted almost 2 years ago
John Bohannon: Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal
Hello Tyrone: I haven't checked in with comments for a while so my apologies for not responding sooner. We have not done any presentations using street dance, but we would certainly be open to it! I'm a choreographer who just makes everything based on my own movement and that of BLM's company members, really not that different from street dance. I think it would be great to see a talk using that kind of vocabulary and dancemaking approach!