Elliot Gordon Mercer

elliot gordon mercer
ACLS Emerging Voices Fellow; Instructor in the Department of English and TAPS
M.A. New York University, Ph.D. Northwestern University
Teaching at UChicago since 2022

Elliot Gordon Mercer is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and performance scholar. His research and creative practice investigate the intersections of dance and visual art, with an emphasis in postmodernism, feminist art, and queer theory. 

His current book project examines Anna Halprin's career work in dance scoring, charting the history and evolution of her innovative workshop models for intermedia theatre, racial justice, art as public service, and expressive arts therapy. In 2016 he curated the exhibition Mapping Dance: The Scores of Anna Halprin at the San Francisco Museum of Performance Design. As a practitioner of Halprin's work, he is a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist and has taught at the Tamalpa Institute. In 2022 he directed the first staging of Halprin’s 1964 dance-theatre work Procession at Grinnell College.

Mercer is an authorized transmitter of Yvonne Rainer’s iconic postmodern dance work Trio A (1966). His interdisciplinary creative work engages a minimalist approach to performance while seeking to reveal slippages within minimalism’s presumption of detached neutrality. Focusing on the subjectivity of gesture and legibility of queerness in performance, his work pursues a compositional approach of queer minimalism. Mercer’s practice is further influenced by the work of Pauline Oliveros, and he holds a Certificate in Deep Listening from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In June 2021 his film Sensorium premiered at Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival.

As a somatic dance educator, Mercer is a licensed Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis trainer. He has completed a Teaching Certification in Labanotation from the Ohio State University as well as a Certificate in Benesh Movement Notation from the Royal Academy of Dance.

His work appears in Dance Research Journal, TDR The Drama Review, and the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernist Dance. He is also a volume co-editor for the forthcoming Bloomsbury series Women’s Innovations in Theatre, Dance, and Performance. Mercer is currently serving as Treasurer on the Dance Studies Association Board of Directors.