About Katie Duck

Salt Lake Mime Troupe 1974

I have been a professional performer and maker since the early 1970’s. I was born in Oxnard, California (1951 near Los Angels) and began performing in plays and musicals by the age of 10. I attended the University of Utah as a modern dance major after high school and then joined the Salt Lake City Mime Troupe touring in the United States and Europe. (1973-75).                                                                                              

I left the United States in 1974 to live in Amsterdam, Holland and toured throughout Europe as a maker and performer in my solo productions, in duet with Carlos Traffic and in with improvisation musicians Ernst Reijseger (cello), Tristan Honsinger (cello), Sean Bergen (sax) and Michael Moore (sax) and many others. I changed my name to Katie Duck while touring my first solo in Europe “The Duck Play” in 1976. I have used this as my artistic identity title ever since.

In 1979, I moved to Italy where I studied and performed for different directors and performance artists groups. I formed a company, GROUPO,  in 1980 creating one hour productions based on story lines and sound tracks. We toured through out Europe and the United Kingdom with the productions Rutles, The Orange Man, Brown eye Green eye and Mind the gap. Alongside these tours, I participated in free lance improvisation collaborations with dance artists Julyen Hamilton and Steve Paxton (among others) and music artists Tristan Honsinger, Derek Bailey, Han Bennik (among others). In this period I began to conduct my research for Multidisciplinary practices and the position improvisation plays in the creation process of compositions using recourses from electronic and acoustic music, play text, story boarding, poetry and movement studies.                                                       

In 1986 I accepted a senior lecturer position at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, UK teaching for the theatre department and leading the choreography course. I had been touring for 12 years and could now continue my research using the archive and international music department that was available within the college grounds. 

In 1991 I accepted a post at the University of Amsterdam, Nederlands, AHK Hooge school voor de kunsten dance departments, SNDO department teaching movement research, improvisation, composition and technique. I began to re direct my work in the professional field touring in Europe, south America and Asia and the USA with musicians whom I had worked with since the 70’s and organising my research into practice with solos and workshops.

I founded the company MAGPIE (1995-2005) combining performance artists, dancers in Amsterdam at the Fijnhout Theater, Melkweg theatre, and OT301 cultural centre. We did extensive tours during this in national and international programs and festivals, exposing the work to a broad range of cultures, viewers and contexts. Every performance combined different artists from the MAGPIE collective of artists with Katie Duck as curator and Ellen Knops as light designer in each situation. The collective held a tight rehearsal process that was then performed loose (improvised). 

This tight rehearsal process towards a loose performance practice came out of the research I conducted in the UK as a professor alongside my interest in the internet evolution that arrived by the late 1980”. When I re located to Amsterdam, I created international focus groups for email announcements and encouraged artists to build their internet precence as part of their creative work. By 2003 I began to collaborate with (USA) dance artists and internet communication expert Justin Morrison who introduced me  to facets of internet communications that allowed for me to create a presence with film editing and live streamed performances from the USA to Europe. 

For my GROUPO productions in the 80”s I created my own sound scores that played on reel to reel tape alongside the performance. The performances were designed to work alongside my sound tracks with a hidden a cue system. As I learned more about technology I followed the advancements for electronic music creation processes, recording and sound scores for my performance projects. The advancements in technology started to make it possible for me to be independent as a Multidisciplinary artists.

Throughout my career I have worked with musicians, actors, poets and singers who share my passion for interdisciplinary practice using improvisation as the means to combine art forms and execute live time compositions for performance. In order to continue this research, there needs to be an on-going context that brings together collaborations combined with a practice in confrontation with public. Up until recently, I used applications that allowed for these research projects to reach publics. Over time it became less available and therefore  I initiated independent projects in order for this work to continue: 

-The Improvisation Festival Amsterdam” (1995 to 1999) with Robert Stijn at the Frascati theatre held two evenings per year. Robert and I invited music, dance, performance artists, technology artists and light designers to collaborate over the two day festival evenings and explore composition options when placed in short term rehearsal processes. 

-Xmas Workshop (1999 to now) I  have been holding a workshop in the holiday period in Amsterdam. I hope that artists choose to spend their holiday period with a moment of work in mind as the New Year changes over each year. I do a Music Theatre workshop  in the  OT301 Studio 1 with a full sound system. It is for musicians, dancers, actors, singers and performance artists.

-The Improvisation Summer Course Amsterdam (2009 to now) is a gathering if international artists to participate in a Course Program for three weeks, towards real time compositions. The work that evolves out of the Course Program is placed in front of live public within the Freakatoni Witchy Weekend Festival every Friday and Saturday evening. Improvisation is not the antithesis of choreography or composition within the Summer Course Program. It is how the artwork is created and how the interdisciplinary practices merge in both the studio rehearsal setting and the newness of real-time improvised performance. We accept participants from all backgrounds, ages, nationalities, orientations and experiences who have a curiosity for interdisciplinary collaboration in the context of real time performance. 

-Sunday Sessions OT301 Cultural Centre Amsterdam (2014 to now) held weekly for artists who are doing real time composition performances and need a place to practice integrating diverse time arts under the conditions of improvisation. The sessions are not workshops or jams but rather improvisation situations that demand the dancer, actor, musician or singer to place their work within a composition integrity in consideration to public. These sessions give an opportunity to widen your artistic palate and question the integration of multidisciplinary time arts and  real time composition.

-Sunday workshop series OT301 Cultural centre (2016 to now) held two times per month, created in response to requests to have on-going classes based on the role improvisation plays in creative process for performance and the connection with body. The workshop series is open to musicians, dancers, actors, singers, performance artist and anyone who has an interest is creativity and body. Workshops are led by artists who have conducted their work under the scrutiny of their research and practice. Teachers are Amsterdam based and from abroad.

I retired my part time contract with the University of Amsterdam, in 2016. I was able to conduct tours through part of the year with my contract. I retired from my contract  it opened all of my time to continue my touring in Asia, the USA, South America, England, Scandinavia and Europe with my workshop and performance projects. During the pandemic in 2020 to 2022, I taught Body classes and multidisciplinary workshops in my Attic studio located in my home. I initiated a series of performances that gathered artists to view and to create experimental art projects. I have continued, in post pandemic, to teach in my attic studio alongside local performances and international tours.

I live in and love Amsterdam. I am a female traveling through time warps past to present day as witness and participant. Life is messy. Emotions are messy. Creativity is messy. My life and my work is messy.

Performance projects: 


Abandon Human 

Collaborative real time performances that arrive out of my workshop processes.

Workshops and classes: 

-Multidisciplinary Music for actors, singers, dancers, text artists, performance artist. 

-Improvisation Composition for dancers “Creation processes for real time Performance”

-Body Body Body classes

Writing and Research