“Hennessy is that rare artist who succeeds in translating fierce social concerns into artistically satisfying creations that enlighten and entertain. Against all odds he believes in art's power to reassume its ritualistic and healing function.”
Rita Felciano, SF Bay Guardian
Keith Hennessy was born in a mining town in Northern Ontario, Canada, lives in San Francisco, and works regularly in Europe. He is an award-winning performer, choreographer, teacher and organizer. Hennessy directs Circo Zero, a laboratory for live performance that plays with genre and expectation. Rooted in dance, Hennessy’s work embodies a unique hybrid of performance art, music, visual and conceptual art, circus, and ritual. A Queer 20th Anniversary featured Hennessy in two solo performances, Saliva (1988-89) & Crotch (all the Joseph Beuys references in the world…) (2008), as well as How To Die (2005-06), a collaboration with Jules Beckman and Seth Eisen.
"Keith Hennessy's stage presence burns; he ignites any subject he tackles. Sacred, violent, and compassionate impulses shape our everyday lives; it is through a genius like Hennessy, though, that we can confront the state of the human contradiction."
Katia Noyes, San Francisco Weekly
Hennessy was a member of Sara Shelton Mann’s legendary Contraband (85-94), as well as the collaborative performance companies CORE (95-98) and the France-based Cahin-caha, cirque bâtard (98-02). His work is featured in several books and documentaries, including Composing While Dancing (Melinda Buckwalter, U of Wisconsin: 2010), How To Make Dances in an Epidemic (David Gere, Univ of Wisconsin: 2004), Gay Ideas (Richard Mohr, Beacon: 1992), and Dancers in Exile (RAPT Productions, 2000). Hennessy is a co-founder of 848 Community Space/CounterPULSE a thriving performance and culture space in San Francisco.
“Hennessy, who started his Bay Area career with the legendary Contraband, thinks deeply about the wounds in our society but he doesn’t go for band-aid approaches.”
Awards include the United States Artist Kjenner Fellowshi (2012), a Bilinski Fellowship (2011), a NY Bessie (2009) for Crotch, two Isadora Duncan Awards (2009) for Sol niger, a Goldie (2007) and the Alpert/MacDowell Fellowship in Dance (2005). In 2009-10, Keith was awarded residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Djerassi. Commissions include National Dance Project (Turbulence 2012), Arsenic, Lausanne (Crotch, 2008), Centre ChorÈgraphique National, Belfort (Sol niger, 2007), Les Subsistances, Lyon (Sol niger 2007, Homeless USA, 2005), Les Laboratoires, Paris (American Tweaker, 2006), FUSED (French-US Exchange in Dance), and Lower Left Performance Co, San Diego (Gather, 2005). Hennessy teaches internationally at festivals, universities and independent studios. Teaching since 2009 includes UC Davis, imPulsTanz/Vienna, TSEH/Moscow, Circuit Est/Montreal, Hub 14/Toronto, AEx-Corps/Dakar, Stary Bowar/Poland, Movement Research/NY, Tanzfabrik/Berlin, University of Dance & Circus/Stockholm.