Ximena Garnica is a Colombian-born multidisciplinary artist, choreographer, director, curator, and teacher. She is a lecturer in Music and Theater Arts at MIT. With her partner, multidisciplinary artist Shige Moriya, Ximena is the co-founder and co-artistic director of the New York-based arts organization LEIMAY and its performance group, the LEIMAY Ensemble. Their collaborative works include performance, sculptural, video, mixed-media, and light installations, as well as dance and theater performances, training projects, publications, photography, and film. Their work has been presented at leading arts venues such as BAM, HERE, The Brooklyn Museum, Japan Society, The Czech Center New York, The New Museum, The Watermill Center, The Asian Museum of San Francisco, Carnegie Mellon University, MIT; and in large and small public spaces such as NYC Times Square, Astor Place, NYC community gardens, NYC streets, among many other spaces in the US and abroad in Japan, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Mexico, and Colombia.
Her works offer the spectator multiple entry points to engage with questions of being, perception, interdependency, and coexistence. Her collaborative works have been presented and received commissions by HERE, PERFORMA, Prototype Festival, Watermill Center, and ALL ARTS. Together with Shige Moriya, they have collaborated with renowned theater director Robert Wilson, Emmy-award composer Jeff Beal, influential Butoh Masters Akira Kasai and the late Ko Murobushi, and a constellation of powerful national and international artists, performers, and guests of the LEIMAY Ensemble and the LEIMAY programs.
Ximena received the Van Lier Fellowship for extraordinary stage directors. With Shige, she has been nominated for the USA Artists Fellowship and the Herb Alpert Award. They were recently awarded the 2022 National Dance Project Production Grant, the 2022 NEA award for the creation of an archive around their Butoh activities, the 2021 NYC Indie Theater Champion Award, the 2020 Cafe Royal Foundation Award, and multi-year grants through LEIMAY from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the NY State Council of the Arts, and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. They have been the recipients of residencies at venues such as the HERE, Watermill Center, Chelsea Factory, ALL ARTS, the Watermill Center, MR at the New Museum, and The Bessie Schonberg Residency at The Yard.
Ximena currently teaches in MIT's theater department, at Marymount Manhattan College, and at Sarah Lawrence College's dance departments. She was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of California Riverside (2018-2019).
Her teaching centers on the embodiment of imagination as a radical act for transformation, self-empowerment, and ecological awareness. She encourages students to question euro-centric notions of time, space, and body. Students develop a porous and resonant body that is able to listen, "to move," and "be moved by" internal and external impulses, and to reflect the energetic qualities of materials and environments. In her Acting classes, students develop stage presence, self-awareness, imagination, and communication skills. Her classes embrace vulnerability, social issues debate, and she values aesthetic sensibility.
With the LEIMAY Ensemble, she has developed LUDUS, a practice that explores methods to physically condition the body while developing a sensitivity to the “in-between space.” LUDUS has been developed with the Ensemble through teaching, training, research, and distillation of years of direct transmission of embodied knowledge by Japanese Butoh pioneers, Noguchi Taiso practitioners, and Experimental Theater innovators. LUDUS is LEIMAY’s world of theory and practice, providing a working foundation for Shige and Ximena’s artistic projects. LUDUS is currently being taught at Marymount Manhattan and Sarah Lawrence Dance Departments.
Ximena’s creative practice includes advocacy of affordable live-work spaces, and her activism was instrumental in affecting changes at the NY State level to protect live-work spaces in New York City. More recently, Ximena, through LEIMAY, co-founded the Cultural Solidarity Fund, which has provided over $1M in $500 relief microgrants to NYC artists and cultural workers affected by COVID-19.
Her writing was included in the article ‘LEIMAY, CAVE, and the New York Butoh Festival’, published in The Routledge Companion to Butoh Performance. LEIMAY’s work has been reviewed in newspapers, journals, and books, including the New York Times, HowlRound, TDR, and Butoh America. LEIMAY’s creative works are often accompanied by published process-books that detail the creative experience and include interviews with collaborating artists and critical responses from scholars/writers.