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about: Movement Architecture

Movement Architecture (MA) is a contemporary dance company whose mission is to create, educate and heal through movement. MA convenes on a project by project basis under the artistic direction of Deborah Jinza Thayer.


MA constructs environments as a way to probe one’s internal world, presenting dance alongside large abstract props and visual installations. The dancers navigate these altered metaphorical spaces in the same way that we, as individuals navigate our own mental models. By rendering these models visible and concrete on stage, MA’s audience is immersed inside of a structured environment -- part of a fabricated world, not just seated outside watching. Through this artistic method, MA inspires awareness of, and reflection on, how we physically interpret and express being in the world. 

MA’s artistic programming has consisted of premiering new choreographic works, leading classes in dance composition, and training dancers in modern dance technique and somatics. 

MA has presented approximately sixty original works including eight full-evening-length works mainly in Minneapolis, but also New York City, Washington DC metro region, Austin TX, and Montreal. MA has presented in approximately twenty venues in the Twin Cities including Walker Art Center, Intermedia Arts, and Southern Theater. MA has been a two-time semi-finalist for France’s Rencontres choregraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis (Bagnolet) in 1999 and 2001. In 2010, MA received the SAGE Award for Choreographic Concept and Design.


Deborah Jinza Thayer is a 2019 McKnight Choreographer's Fellow



Deborah JInza Thayer

For twenty-five years I have explored movement as a choreographer, performer, teacher, and professional movement therapist. I bring all of who I am into expression when I work– genetics, experience, and ways of perceiving. 


The first seven itinerant years of my life were spent in Burma and Japan (my mother’s ancestral home); my first language was Japanese. Although caucasoid in appearance, genetically and experientially, I am a hybrid of both cultures. I spent the next ten years in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and attended Brooklyn Friends School. My self-directed open classroom education blurred the distinction between work and play and any subject matter became an excuse to discover my world (I remember growing crawfish in a child’s inflatable pool and recording the results).


My interest in science led me to Johns Hopkins University as a pre-med student where, strangely enough, I discovered dance. I returned to New York City to study dance and began my quest in the art and science of perception through choreography.

After studying various downtown dance techniques for ten years in New York City, I started exploring altered space and Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) with Karen Studd at George Mason University. There I realized the importance of intention in choreographic work and LMA provided a foundation for both my teaching of modern dance and analyzing intention and movement. When I studied Butoh with Maureen Fleming in New York, I became interested in warping time and states of being. In the tradition of Butoh, I began manipulating chi (energy) to create physical actions. I was first introduced to the concepts of Body Mind Centering (BMC) in studying vocal dance with Amsterdam-based Patricia Bardi. Resonating the body through sounding and other BMC techniques, movement became more authentic and articulate. The movement concepts of Eugenio Barba of the International School of Theater Anthropology (ISTA) introduced me to the underlying principles of movement in both eastern and western theater and dance traditions. In addition, to creating movement design for various stage productions, I learned various movement theater techniques such as Margolis Brown Method.


The GYROTONIC® Expansion System furthered my knowledge in spiraling movements that open, restore and strengthen the body. And as a Global Somatics™ practitioner, I am integrating all the systems (nervous, lymph, etc.) and structures (organs, muscles, bones, etc.) in my understanding of movement.  Currently, I am a registered Somatic Movement Therapist and Movement Educator (ISMETA). Learn more about my somatics practice here.



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Movement Architecture has been supported by:


-McKnight Artist Fellowship for Choreographer (2004, 2019)

-Associate Artist Residency at Atlantic Center for the Arts (2006)

-Jerome Foundation (2006)

-Blacklock Nature Sanctuary Fellowship (2010)

-American Composers Forum (2006, 2011, 2014)

-Generous grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board (1999, 2002, 2009, 2014, 2017)

-Metropolitan Regional Arts Council grant (2017)

We cannot thank individual donors enough for their contributions, patronage, and various forms of support as audience members, sounding boards and friends.


Donations are made through GiveMN, a local fundraising platform, and are tax deductible

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