Dance Concert Seeks to 'Re-Move' Choreography of the 20th Century
Posted: November 17, 2006
Faculty and students in Denison's dance department will present a concert that provides an historical overview of dance in the 20th century and examines the art form in the light of American cultural politics. "ReMoving History: Dissonance and Harmony in 20th Century Concert Dance" will be presented at 8 p.m. on Thursday (Nov. 30), Friday (Dec. 1) and Saturday (Dec. 2) in the Doane Dance Performance Space. This program is funded by the MacGregor Initiatives Fund and the dance department. The performances are free and open to the public. Unlike previous concerts, the Dance Department is taking no reservations and will seat audience members on a first come, first served basis.
Three courses -- Cultural Studies in Dance History, Movement Analysis, and Repertory -- collaborated to create a re-framing of canonical signature pieces from the 20th century. In the course of "re-moving" these works, the students were able to re-assess issues of racism, class differences, gender, ethnicity and politics that factored into the development of these dances from pioneers to contemporaries.
Three of the works that will be performed were set on the dancers by guest artists in the Denison dance department. April Berry, former member of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, was in residence to set the opening of Ailey's "Revelations." While here, Berry addressed the vast oppression still present in American culture 45 years after Ailey's piece premiered. Later in the semester, Liz Maxwell, former member of the Laura Dean Dance Company, set "Skylight." Finally, in a two part residency, Phi Beta Kappa Scholar Gus Solomons, Jr. created a new piece, "Fast Jig for 1 Dozen" for 18 dancers. Solomons, who was in the companies of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham before starting his own 35 years ago, uses architectural patterns and designs in his work. Set to Afro-Celtic music, it is fast, lively and fun.
This reframing of 20th century history through a deep investigation of race, class and gender issues is the semester-long project of Associate Professor Gill Wright Miller. Miller teaches all three of the courses listed above. Joining her is a second Repertory section taught by Assistant Professor Mishele Mennett. Miller and Mennett will draw on the talents of Resident Musician Brian Casey, Lighting Designer Mary Sykes, Costumer Laura Laughlin and Production Assistant Jill Uland to create this two-hour long, fast-moving march through history. According to Miller, "Some of the pieces are direct quotes from the original dances. We have used scores and film footage in equal proportion to recapture excerpts from the works. Other pieces are actually paraphrases of the original, where the work has been summarized and re-articulated, but the ideas do not originally belong to us. I want students to see that learning about dances is not the same as learning the dances kinesthetically. It takes both activities to understand our genre's history."
Students who will bring these dances to life on the stage are: seniors Laura Berger, Michael Craig, Erin Davidson, Katie Dean, Sarah Drake, Mariel Gallet, Eleni Grove, Alexandra Kirkilis, Alexa Lindley, Kate Seymour, Katie Sparks and Abbe Wright; juniors Ashley Dunkle, Brooke Hayes, Lesley Lighthiser, Rachel Lukemire, Sarah Page and Tasmin Pepin-Perry; sophomores Ilke Akcasoy, Megan Castranio, Theresa Daniel, Diana Dixon, Brittany Jackson, Asad Khan, Christine Mince and Kate Terlecky; and first-years Erin Garvey, Kari Kurtzhalts, Christina Marino, Heather Robertson, Missy Scherkenbach, Tricia Smit and Alison Waldman. Also dancing will be community scholar Kathleen Dean and faculty members Sandy Mathern-Smith, Mennet and Miller.
CALENDAR LISTING: Denison University, Granville--"ReMoving History: Dissonance and Harmony in 20th Century Concert Dance"; 8 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday (Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and 2), Doane Dance Performance Space. Free and open to the public. No reservations will be taken, and seating is on a first come, first served basis. Call 740-587-5718 to confirm information.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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