Patricia Bulitt

Interdisciplinary Artist 
Teaching Artist
                                        P a t r i c i a    B u l i t t
Awarded with numerous grants, fellowships, and residences including: Choreography Fellowship from National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, Alaska Humanities Forum, California Greenways Project, East Bay Community Foundation, Traditional Theatre Workshop, Kyoto, Japan, UCLA Department of Dance, Dorland Mt Arts Colony, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Rutgers Univeristy, Nara Women's University, and Kyoto Seika University, New Pacific Studio, New Zealand.

From Leonard Pronko, Professor of Theatre, Pomona College:

August 20, 2013


To Whom It May Concern:


It is a pleasure to write about a sensitive artist who has explored new areas of dance in original and profound ways, and brought treasures back to her audiences. I first met Patricia Bulitt in Los Angeles in 1984 at the Japan America Theatre where we were attending a performance. A mutual friend introduced us when I learned Patricia had attended my Lecture Demonstration of Japanese Kabuki Theatre at the University of Arizona in 1972.


Patricia invited me to her presentation of GUTSONGS, a solo performance, at the Los Angeles Women’s Building. I saw a depth and beauty to her dances, and extended an invitation for her to perform at Pomona College. It was apparent from the start that this extraordinary artist was capable of opening windows on new worlds for all of us. Since one of my areas of specialization at Pomona College is Asian theatre, I was immediately moved and impressed by Patricia Bulitt’s sensitivity and her ability to explore the dance of cultural traditions very different from our own and then create something entirely original that respected the spirit of the tradition.


Several years later, Patricia returned to Pomona College as a guest artist to share more of her riches with us. She presented slides showing her experiences over many years as a guest artist in Alaska, and performed her mysterious and suggestive MOTHER OF MUKLUK SEAL MASK DANCE. Her portrayal of a mother seal and her child is memorable to this day. In this dance and many others, we are aware of her sensitivity to culture and imagination. It was clear that Patricia had become a trusted friend and documenter in the far northern communities of her residencies.   While living with an elder in the village of Hooper Bay, and after years of annual visits, she built an exhibition in association with the Traditional Council honoring elder dancers and drummers. She included excerpts from field recordings and photographs by James Barker, replacing memories from a 1981 dance Patricia organized with a community elder drummer.


Patricia is an interdisciplinary artist who blends the learning of an ethnologist with the poetry of a dancer. Another example of this poetic creativity is Patricia’s interaction with the Japanese. Even before visiting Japan she had seen beautiful white egrets in California and was inspired to make a first Egret dance ( 1977). When she discovered the Sagi Mai egret dance of Japan in a gift book, she dreamed of going to Japan and witnessing it. On her first visit (1984) she studied Noh in Kyoto with masters of that ancient dance theatre. Years later, (2010) returning to Japan, she performed her dance, EGRETFULLY, for the community of Tsuwano, then witnessed and documented their performance of Sagi Mai. EGRETFULLY is performed in a beautiful white costume evoking the form and spirit of the elegant birds.  


In her dances, Patricia combines choreographed movement with improvisational dance, responding in each performance to the context and meaning created by the setting and the circumstances--such as her dances in the waters of Berkeley’s creeks, for a tree at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, an historic bridge, ANZAC Bridge, in New Zealand, and a drying marshland in the regional park of Coyote Hills. All these she embellished with her original sound/text poetry sung by collaborating instrumentalists and vocalists and imaginative sculptural costumes.


Recently in several cities in Japan, Alaska and elsewhere in US, she created a community event: A ROCK GARDEN FOR PEACE. This has stirred educators, parents, and children, college students and general audiences to reflect on an inquiry that builds thoughtful responses to the nature of peace.


Her dances are evocative, suggesting other worlds than the one we inhabit every day. She draws on a highly disciplined technique combined with inspiration and improvisation, enriched by impressive sculptural costumes co-designed with fellow artists. Endlessly creative, deeply intuitive, Patricia Bulitt offers rich possibilities as choreographer, performer and teacher, bringing the abundance of a long experience of dance, performance and ethnography. She will add depth and breadth to any experience in which she participates.



Leonard C. Pronko

Professor of Theatre, Pomona College

From Rita Felciano, Dance Critic, The Guardian, San Francisco, CA.

June 18, 2011


DANCE:  Patricia Bulitt

Patricia Bulitt is for the birds. Literally.she has been making dances about them for more than 30 years. First in Alaska, most recently in New Zealand and Japan. To her they are harbingers of peace and beauty, qualities she finds woefully absent in our humdrum existence, and her dances honor them.

One piece was dedicated to the native birds of Lake Merritt in an Oakland refuge, another to a blackbird residing ˆn a grove on the UC Berkeley campus. But her biggest love is the majestic, egret. Her EGRETFULLY, performed on the lawn below the nesting couples at the Audubon Canyon Ranch, has become an annual event.


Audubon Canyon Ranch

4900 Shoreline Hwy

Stinson Beach, CA

From: Gary Snyder, Writer, Poet
To whom it may concern,

I have witnessed Patricia Bulitt's dance performance and have had correspondence and conversations with her concerning her dance work and research.  ...

I consider her dance  highly accomplished, authentic within its own terms, creative, and highly respectful of both native culture and the animals invoked.  I know of no one else doing this kind of dance work,  which ( in my own terms) extends beyond " art" as usually understood in Euro-American culture, and is cross-cultural and " inter-species" in its intention, which puts it on a very exciting and experimental edge. 

I respect her vision, her knowledge, and her performance very much.

Gary Snyder
Writer/ Poet

June 1, 2011

From: Virgina Lezhnev, The Kreeger Museum, Washington, DC
To Whom It May Concern:

On May 9, 2011, Patricia Bulitt gave a special workshop/demonstration for the StoryTime docents at the Kreeger Museum in Washington, D.C. As an interpretative artist who integrates all the arts—dance, music, chants, and storytelling, Ms. Bulitt captivated the docents with her interpretations of works of art—paintings and sculptures—in the Kreeger collection. 
She did an angular, modern dance to express the sharp geometric lines of Picasso’s Ears of Wheat, a painting in our collection.  She made up stories about the objects depicted in a Chagall painting. She had us move like the tree and clouds in Monet’s painting of his house at Giverny. She took us into the minds of the children in Gauguin’s painting of his sons. 

Instead of talking about the “facts” of the works of art—the artist or the artistic techniques, Ms. Bulitt tried to reach the child’s imagination and help the child use his imagination to look at and explore the painting or sculpture. She emphasized that there is no right or wrong way to do this and no right or wrong answers. Look, see, explore, and respond. Her approach was very freeing. We looked at our old friends—Picasso, Chagall, Monet, Brancusi, and Gauguin—with fresh eyes.

To enhance her approach, Ms. Bulitt used chants, songs, musical instruments  to keep the presentation lively, to keep the audience focused. To this multi-sensory approach, she added movement for the children to do in pairs or singly.  These kinesthetic responses made the experience more memorable.

Ms. Bulitt’s innovative and creative presentation gave the Kreeger docents a fresh new way to think about presenting works of art to children ages 3 – 5. The docents were stimulated, inspired, and enthusiastic. I would highly recommend Patricia Bulitt and her wonderful presentation for all museum docents.


Virginia D. Lezhnev

StoryTime Coordinator

Tour Docent

The Kreeger Museum, Washington, D.C.
FROM: LOUISE F. O'Dea, Kensington, Library, Kensington, CA.
January 15, 2010

To Whom it May Concern:

Patricia Bullitt performed at the Kensington Library in January, 2010. She danced both a traditional and a non-traditional Eskimo storytelling dance, preceded by interesting histories and descriptions of these dances. Patricia began her performance with a slide show that was well-organized, interesting, and informative.

She explained and demonstrated the construction of the seal intestine “dried gut” parka, created for her by a Hooper Bay Elder that she wore for the non-traditional “Mother of Mukluk Seal Mask Eskimo Dance;” she then spoke the words of the two dances before dancing. 

Although Patricia is not from an Eskimo background, she conveyed very well her love and appreciation of their culture and has obviously won their trust and admiration for her creativity, culture appreciation, and dance skills over the years.

The Kensington Library’s audience loved her performance and a few were moved to tears by this program. She was creative, organized and a pleasure to work with.


Louise F. O’Dea, Library Assistant
Kensington Library
61Arlington Avenue
Kensington, CA 94707

From: Tara Rivera, Supervising Librarian, North Berkeley Library, CA.

June 23, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:

Patricia Bulitt and I organized "Remembering My Grandmother's Honey Cake:  A Paper Dress Making Workshop" which also included a lecture and exhibition of her paper dresses.  The series of events were given at the Berkeley Public Library, North Branch.


The workshops for this event occurred in two weekends. The North Branch does not a have a community meeting room so using a space for a large group of people to lay out dresses, supplies, etc. was not feasible in a single day. By having the workshops in two parts, participants were able to have more space in which to work. The room was filled with materials to the brim; there was barely a surface that wasn’t covered with materials or dresses.


The room was pleasantly decorated and the paper dresses seemed at home in our quaint 72 year-old children’s room by the fireplace. And while we did have sign-ups in advance, there were people who were walking about the library the first day and saw our program. They were so interested that several signed up on the spot for the next day.


The workshops were successful in that they touched all who participated. There were several mother and daughter duos and even a grandbaby, mother, and grandmother-in-law paper dress tribute. A father and daughter duo was very moving; the father made a paper purse to accompany his daughter's designer looking paper dress.


What made this program truly unique was its multidimensional richness; it was not just a mere library program. Patricia, using her grandmother’s cake recipe as a seed, carefully researched storytelling through recipes (she used a book from the South Branch library!). Patricia studied this book, Eat My Words, and drew our audience into a thoughtful conversation as she lectured from the book. She beautifully illustrated her lecture with her own grandmother’s hand written cookbook as she discussed how recipes might be considered a form of autobiography with the folkloric aspects of women’s culture and literacy. To top it off, she brought a paper dress commemorating her nana and her recipes.


Participants were deeply inspired by Patricia and her art form. Many brought historic photos and personal items to be embellished onto their paper dresses! The program impressed the idea that there are stories everywhere. Whether it was told through the paper dress or the yummy baked cakes from Patricia’s grandmother’s recipe, participants embarked on the process of telling stories through art, craft, and sharing. Libraries are not just repositories for books, but community gather places for the public to share history and life. I was very pleased to have Patricia and her program contribute to our collection of stories at North Branch.




Tara Rivera

Branch Supervisor

North Branch

FROM:  Shelley Sorenson, Librarian, San Francisco Public Library, CA
San Francisco Public Library:

 The children responded well to Patricia, especially when she brought the program back to them. She was able to portray the fact that we all have family stories within us by giving some of the children an opportunity to relate a vignette from their memories.  Then the audience had a chance to draw a family memory onto a paper plate.

Patricia was easy to communicate with and professional in her attitude.  She arrived on time and fully prepared.  She has been very enthusiastic about working with the library, had a good rapport with the kids, and dealt with minor distractions and interruptions in a graceful way.  I would recommend Patricia as a performer, and this program in particular.  Please email me at , if you have any further questions.

Shelley Sorenson
Librarian, San Francisco Public Library

From: Karen MacPherson, Takoma Park Public Library, Maryland

Patricia then began her story; she was dressed in a costume that
incorporates the design of the plate from which her grandmother created
the story. Patricia, who also is a dancer, uses lots of movement in
telling her story, which enthralled the audience.

The story itself is a lovely one that easily resonates with both kids and adults. When the performance was over, we did a craft related to Patricia’s
story.  As people left for the evening, we got many kudos from kids and
adults, with several people telling us that it was one of the best
storytelling performances they’d ever attended.

Overall, we were thrilled with Patricia’s performance and highly
recommend her as a storyteller.


Karen MacPherson
Children’s & Teen Librarian, Takoma Park Maryland Library

From: Joanna Macy, Writer/Deep Ecologist, Berkeley, CA.

Regarding:   GIFT EXCHANGE OF DANCE: A CALIFORNIA DANCER' S EXCHANGE WITH THE ESKIMOS IN ALASKA ( 1977-2013) including slide show and performance impressions from her many years associated with residents in Alaska:

I wish I had words to tell you how moved I am by your performance of the Mukluk Seal Mother--actually the whole evening.  The beauty, the restraint, the fluid grace, the powerful economy of gesture.  Every expression of eyes, mouth, tilt of head.  The endless respect and devotion in which you hold your Eskimo friends and teachers. All of it went straight to my core, and now I want to see you do the Egret and the Salmon.  How could I have waited so long before seeing what you bring forth?

-Joanna Macy
Writer and Deep Ecologist