The Architects

  • faculty

The Architects were born out of collaborations between Katherine Ferrier, Lisa Gonzales, Jennifer Kayle, and Pamela Vail, dating back to the late 1980s at Middlebury College. For 20 years, the quartet has been engaged in celebrating composition through their commitment to collaborative movement research. The Architects have presented their work in such venues as the Improvisation Festival/N.Y.; Epiphany Dance Experiment, Chicago; Jazz Fest, Burlington, Vt. (in collaboration with Ensemble V, directed by Arthur Brooks); Improvised and Otherwise Festival of Sound and Movement, N.Y.; Big Range Dance Festival, Houston, Tex.; The Fringe Festival, Minneapolis, Minn.; The Flynn Theatre in Burlington, Vt.; Movement Arts Thorne’s in Northampton, Mass.; the University of Iowa; and Franklin & Marshall, Middlebury, Muhlenberg, and Keene State Colleges. Highlights from the past year include teaching and performing at the Chicago Dance Improvisation Fest, the Texas Dance Improvisation Festival in San Antonio, and in Tucson, Az. where they offered a winter MICI workshop in January for the second year running. They were the company in residence at Work in the Performance of Improvisation from 2001-2005 at Bennington College; in 2007 they toured to Helsinki, Finland and St. Petersburg, Russia to teach and perform. In their professional and life-long devotion to choreography, improvisation, and teaching, The Architects bring a holistic and ferocious intelligence to the dialogue of dance-making and teaching, process and product, individual voice and ensemble composition, crafting, and opening to the unknown.

  • Katherine Ferrier

    An independent dance artist/educator, poet, visual artist and curator, Katherine has been immersed in making since the late 80’s. She earned her B.A. in Dance and Women’s Studies from Middlebury College, and M.F.A. in Dance and Performance from Sarah Lawrence College.  A co-founder of The Architects, an improvisational quartet with a collaborative performance history spanning nearly 20 years, she is also the founder and Artistic Director of Immediate Theatre, and a founding member of Haiku Analog, both ensembles of movers, musicians, and visual artists, collaborating to create dance-theater-spoken word hybrids.  An improviser at heart, Katherine delights in composing in the moment, be it with fabric, found objects, words or bodies in motion, and her various forms of creative research continue to inform and provoke each other, becoming quantum partners in a life-long practice of paying attention. She is a chronic guest artist, and teaches and performs regularly throughout the US and abroad. Katherine created and directs Cultivate, a festival designed to nourish a growing community of contemporary dance-makers and dance supporters in Northern New Hampshire.  Collaboration is a cornerstone of her work, and she thrives on the exciting alchemy of working with a variety of artists. Recent collaborators include: The Architects, Haiku Analog (Kathy Couch + Vicki Brown) George Manupelli, Miguel Gutierrez, Marcus Godwyn (England/Russia), Sini Haapalinna (Finland), Cinzia Fiaschi (Italy) and Nina Gasteva/Iguan Dance Theatre (Russia).  You can see more of her work, and find links to her writing, at


  • Lisa Gonzales

    Lisa Gonzales is an independent dance maker, performer, improviser and associate professor at Columbia College Chicago.  Interested in the complex array of meanings revealed by bodies moving in relationship to each other and their environment, Gonzales’ work often investigates some aspect of the power and frailty inherent in humanness.  She has taught performed and shown her work in spaces as diverse as DTW in New York, The Dance Center of Columbia College, Chicago, the historic Lu-Ling Theater in Taipei, Taiwan, at the Dostoyevsky Theater in St. Petersburg Russia, in Helsinki, Finland, in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and in cities and spaces across the United States. She works as an independent artist, a commissioned artist, and a choreographer in educational settings and as part of a collective of artists. She is co-founder of The Architects, which allows her to conduct compositional research, teach and perform as part of a collective of composing improvisers.  She considers the politics of a collectively organized group teaching collaboratively and making performance work improvisationally and non-hierarchically to be an important and ongoing social statement. She credits many artists with whom she has worked as being influential to her own art making including Peter Schmitz, Penny Campbell, Susan Sgorbati, Andrea Olsen, Deborah Hay, Angie Hauser, Darrell Jones, Peter Carpenter, Chris Aiken, Paul Matteson, K.J. Holmes, Amy Chavasse, Deana Acheson, The Architects and improvising musicians Arthur Brooks and Michael Chorney, puppeteers Dan Hurlin, Chris Green, Tom Lee and Erin Ore, and others.  Gonzales attended Middlebury College and received her M.F.A. from the Ohio State University.


  • Jennifer Kayle

    Jennifer Kayle is associate professor at the University of Iowa, and an independent choreographer, dancer, and improviser. In 2013, Kayle was an invited artist for the Dance-Art-Exchange "New Territory/Cuerpo de Danza" in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  In 2011, she created commissioned work for University of Utah, and 37 por las Tablas, a Movement/Theatre Company in Santiago, R.D.  In 2010, Kayle co-created “Virtually Yours,” a meditation on the poetry and politics of crossing the border, presented at Highways, Los Angeles, and El Centro Leon in Santiago, Dominican Republic.  She also continued her collaboration with composer Burton Beerman, presenting work at Symphony Space, NYC, and in Ohio at the 31st International New Music Festival.  In 2009, she performed with Katherine at The Body/Word Festival in St. Petersburg Russia, and in 2008, premiered works in Chicago, Colorado, and in her first Joyce SoHo season in New York City.  Other venues include the Minnesota Fringe Festival, Jacob’s Pillow’s “Inside/Out,” Big Range Dance Festival (Tex.), venues in Russia, Finland, Puerto Plata, D.R., and in the repertories of companies such as New ARTiculations (Tucson) and The Dance COLEctive (Chicago). Recent teaching adventures include Hubbard Street Summer Dance Intensive 2012, Bates Dance Festival/Young Dancers Workshop 2009, co-creating an interdisciplinary improvisation course for dancers, musicians, and actors at U.Iowa, and co-teaching with Lisa at Links Hall, Chicago, and the Fort Wayne Dance Collective in Indiana. Jennifer is grateful to all her mentors, and also to continue her main improvisational research with The Architects, including designer Kathy Couch.


  • Pamela Vail

    Pamela Vail is a choreographer, performer, improviser, and teacher.  She is currently assistant professor of dance at Franklin & Marshall College.  Before moving to Lancaster, she spent 8 years living and dancing professionally in New York City. In addition to being a co-founding member of The Architects, Vail is a founding member of critically acclaimed New York City-based Yanira Castro | a canary torsi with whom she has been performing and touring since 1995. Vail continues to create and perform her own work, and she has also had the pleasure of working with and being inspired by such artists as Penny Campbell, Terry Creach, Heidi Henderson/elephant JANE dance, Tori Lawrence, Andrea Olsen, Peter Schmitz, Susan Sgorbati, and of course The Architects, among others. Recently venturing into the realm of dance on camera, her collaborations with filmmaker Jeremy Moss have been shown in film festivals around the world, with new projects underway. Philosopher Keith Lehrer, another recent collaborator, lectures on art and meaning while Vail improvises. She holds a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.F.A. in dance from Smith College, and has been dancing since she was six years old.


  • Vicki Brown

    Vicki Brown's unique manipulations of sounds derived mainly from the violin have been described as "alluring", "transporting", "cinematic moodscapes".  The versatility of her approach to layer and weave sonic geographies and an openness to collaborate and cultivate with others keeps her surrounded by creativity as her music translates mood and pace for time-related projects.  She is a member of Tucson's Movement Salon, an ensemble of dancers, writers and musicians who practice and perform compositional improvisation where the only parameters are space and time.  Music from her two self-produced critically-acclaimed albums, Winter Garden (2006) and Seas & Trees (2009), accompanied dances choreographed and performed by Pamela Vail at the 2009 Philadelphia Fringe Festival and Jessica Fogel in the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theater & Dance, and is featured in the Academy Award nominated documentary film Gasland (2010).  She has been collaborating, composing, recording, touring and performing as a solo artist and with several bands in the US and Europe since 2006.  Most recently she plays violin and sings backup vocals with ex-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Australian artist Hugo Race & The Fatalists, and Tucson's Amy Rude & Heartbeast and Brian Lopez.  

  • Kathy Couch

    For 17 years, Kathy Couch has been designing and creating visual landscapes in performance and installation works. Primarily working in the mediums of light and space, Couch has designed over 350 performances in New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Australia, Armenia, Russia, Latvia, Serbia and throughout the United States. Creating installations and designs for a variety of traditional and non-traditional spaces, Couch’s artistic practice focuses on the vital role of the audience/viewer as active contributors to the work. Kathy Couch has recent and ongoing performance collaborations with a canary torsi/Yanira Castro, Adele Myers and Dancers, Karinne Keithly Syers, Katherine Ferrier, and The Architects. She received a 2009 Bessie Award for her work with a canary torsi/Yanira Castro on Dark Horse/Black Forest and a 2013 Bessie Nomination for their 4-hour interactive performance installation—The People To Come. In Fall 2013, the archive component of The People To Come was featured in the exhibitionPerformance Archiving Performance, at the New Museum in New York. Kathy Couch currently teaches Lighting Design at Amherst College and recently developed the movement/writing workshop ::Through-Lines:: in collaboration with Katherine Ferrier. Couch received her MFA in Visual Arts from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a founding board member of the Northampton Community Arts Trust that seeks innovative ways to preserve arts space in Northampton, MA.