Interview with Linda Austin (2015)


Interview with Linda Austin (2015)


Streaming Media


Linda Austin, co-founder and director of Performance Works NorthWest in Portland, Oregon, has been making dance and performance since 1983. She was active in the dance and performance community in New York City during the 1980s, lived and worked in Mexico during the mid-1990s, and relocated to Portland, Oregon, in 1998, where she established PWNW and Linda Austin Dance.

Recorded for the documentary Moving History: Portland Contemporary Dance Past and Present

Interview Date





Linda Austin is the co-founder and director of Performance Works NorthWest. Austin and lighting designer Jeff Forbes started Performance Works NorthWest (PWNW) in 1998, which in 2000 found its current home in a small church in Southeast Portland. The location serves as performance and education space for Linda Austin Dance as well as other local and visiting dancers and performers from around the country.

Beginning with a background in theater, Linda Austin began making performance and dance in New York in 1983. Her first piece was presented at the Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church. She was active in the NYC dance and performance community and performed in venues that included P.S. 122, the Kitchen, and Movement Research at Judson Church.

From 1992 to 1994 she lived and created work in Mexico, and returned to Mexico City in 1998 for a residency sponsored by Movement Research and funded by the U.S.-Mexico Culture Fund. In 1998 she relocated to Portland, Oregon, and established PWNW and Linda Austin Dance.

PWNW serves as a parent organization for Linda Austin Dance as well as a catalyst for other projects such as 2008’s Tuning Project, curated by Karen Nelson, which brought Tuning Score innovator Lisa Nelson and Contact Improvisation founder Steve Paxton to work intensively with a group of dancers and improvisors from around the country. The Alembic Resident Artist Program at PWNW offers three types of residencies, which offer artists time and space to live and work, as well as interact with Portland artists and audiences.

Linda Austin’s work has earned awards including the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Merce Cunningham Award (2017), a Fellowship in Performing Arts from the Regional Arts & Culture Council, and Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission.

Linda Austin continues to create and perform in Portland, Oregon and elsewhere. Her most recent projects include (Un)Made, The Word Hand, Hummingbird, and Three Trick Pony.

Interviewer Eric Nordstrom is a dance performer, filmmaker and professor. As a director and editor, his interests focus on the intersection of dance, improvisation, documentary, and film. His past and current film work features such prominent dancers and scholars as Ann Cooper Albright and Simone Forti. In Seattle, he has performed with Karen Nelson, and in Portland, Oregon, was a core company member with Oslund+Company. Eric has taught contemporary technique, contact improvisation, and dance film courses in colleges and festivals throughout the U.S., including Macalester College, Kenyon College, Reed College, Portland State University, Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation, Conduit Dance, and The Ohio State University, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts. He is on faculty at Lewis and Clark College.


This interview is made available through the Portland State University Library Special Collections and University Archives with the generous permission of Eric Nordstrom, Portland Performing Arts Video and is for educational and non-commercial use only. It cannot be reproduced in any form, distributed or played for commercial purposes. For more information, please contact Special Collections at Portland State University Library at: or (503) 725-9883

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Interview with Linda Austin (2015)