LEIMAY Fellow Feature

A time in the studio with... Judith Barnes 

  • What is the first thing you do when you begin your rehearsal at CAVE?

Each week I begin a little differently. Sometimes I just walk in and start singing because I feel like it. Another time I might focus on vocal or physical warmups or therapeutic exercises, or I might start by moving through the space, feeling it out and seeing what it gives back. Another week I begin by writing. Sometimes I just lie down on the floor and rest until I come back to myself. Perhaps the most consistent thing I do is feel a moment of relief and thanks when my eyes are greeted by this white refuge and I sense the possibilities within the walls. The first time I came to work at CAVE I spread all my sheet music out on the floor. I wanted to see what I had and what called to me. I could feel the power and resonance contained within each piece when I saw them all freed from their binders, claiming space on the white floor in the white room.


  • How have weekly rehearsals impacted the way that you work? 

Although I routinely do some form of rehearsal or physical/vocal practice every day, the weekly hours at CAVE have taken on a whole different quality, set apart from the rest of my activities--a solitary time of intense focus on my artistic inquiry and development. It feels like a moment in time in which to honor the constant creative striving which has characterized my whole life. In addition, it has been an especially healing time as I have been learning to manage some relatively new physical challenges. Since my work outside of CAVE is often very collaborative, I have been mostly working alone, experimenting with vocalism, text, movement and different approaches to repertoire. It’s also a very calm, quiet place in which to plan, budget, and move forward with the variety of tasks I have as a producer.

  • In one sentence, what is at the core of your work? What drives you to create?

For me creation is a spiritual imperative, a search, a restlessness, an impossible possibility, an antidote to death.

  • Discuss your use of the body in your practice...

My body is the medium in one way or another for everything I do, the touchstone. I experience and transform my experience of the world through the paradigm of my body. The mind transforms the body. The body transforms the mind. It is this constantly shifting dichotomy that generates the spark of creation.


As a singer, I delve into the connection of body, breath and thought to create stylized and expressive sound. As a performer/actor, I try to train and transform my physicality to embody the role I am taking on, a character who may be very different from myself, and yet completely folded into and embraced by my own being.  As a sculptor, it is all body and wrestling with matter. In all these pursuits, as in life, I am alternately preoccupied with my body, frustrated by it, pushing its limits, desiring to forget about it, immersed in it, loving it, enjoying it, and nurturing it in order to have the capacity for the work.

  • Tell me about your first experience with LEIMAY, CAVE, or Ximena and Shige?

I first saw Ximena perform at HERE. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her image is still burned into my brain. Years later I was re-introduced through Thea Little, a fellow from a previous year when I came to see her performance at SOAK.

Fellow Feature #4 // Judith Barnes from CAVE home of LEIMAY on Vimeo.

Learn more about Judith through her conectom profile!

A time in the studio with... is a platform to showcase participating artists in the LEIMAY Fellowship Program 2016-2017. Interviews and video content are created by Studio Manager Lindsey Mandolini. 


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