Graduate, undergrad dancers uncover artistic expressions

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The UI Dance Department will put on graduate/undergraduate dance performance at Space/Place, integrating different music, movement, dialogue, and audience interaction.

By Rhiana Chickering
rhiana-chickering@uiowa.edu

When postmodern dance meets timeless artistic expressions, it turns into a mesmerizing piece with no limits.

This weekend’s Graduate/Undergraduate Dance Concert encompasses a multitude of expressions by focusing on movement, music, dialogue, and interactions with the audience.

The energy and subtleness of the movements changes with the vigor of the music, or silence for that matter. Some dancers will even dance blindfolded.

In a number of pieces, the unique, graceful movements are also paired with internal and external dialogue, and other pieces powerfully focus on primarily movement.

Choreographer Ailey Picasso’s quartet “gather . unravel . repeat” includes movements with a more mechanical feel, while her piece “in : flux” focuses on more intricate movements that illustrate instability.

 

“[‘in : flux’] was born [out] of this feeling of belonging and not belonging and trying to make sense of things while you’re at a confluence of information,” Picasso said. “The start of [choreography] was the feeling of being unsteady or unstable … and trying to re-center yourself.”

The piece presents this idea in a fascinating way in that the soloist, Christina Howe, makes direct eye contact with the audience, prompting unsteady themes of watching and being watched as she confronts the audience in this manner.

“[Making eye contact with the audience] changes how I approach [the piece] as a performer, because sometimes it’s easy to be into your own movement and performance that you aren’t focusing on the audience watching you,” Howe said. “But when you have to put yourself in that position where you have to make that direct connection, it’s a little unsettling and it’s very interesting to be inside of it in that aspect.”

Throughout the performance, the dancers also contribute to the pieces alongside the choreographers.

Howe said working with choreographer Picasso has allowed her to think about the material she has been given and how she wants to incorporate her own artistic expressions in the piece.

However, within “in : flux,” the artistic expressions will be more subtle than Howe’s typical performances; she will have to fight the adrenaline that occurs as she gets on stage.

“This [piece] requires a much more calm … almost meditative state of mind for me,” Howe said, “So it’s going to be interesting to navigate those different qualities in myself of wanting to put everything into [the performance] and wanting to attack it.”

In contrast, Chafin Seymour, who choreographed “Á Bruit Secret,” brilliantly fuses hip-hop with modern ballet to create a different take on contemporary dance — a take that will make the audience want to dance along.

“I am interested to see [the piece] on stage fully realized with light in a fully constructed environment rather than a studio,” Seymour said. “I think the energy changes in translation from rehearsal to performance.”

The ideas for each piece were also developed by different means. The idea for “Flickering Might-Have-Beens, Reluctant Yet-To-Bes,” for instance, was inspired by an image of fireflies.

Choreographer Valeria Amador uses a modern piece with a bass beat in combination with a classic violin ensemble to illustrate a moment she witnessed last summer.

“I had this image of fireflies I saw over the summer, and I started looking up images, videos, [and poetry] of fireflies,” Amador said. “When I started looking at the poetry … I felt this fleeting aspect [of] how fireflies are there, then they’re gone, and you miss it.”

Amador began thinking about how opportunities come and go so vastly, stressing the missed opportunities in life that bring on feelings of regret and pondering. To better encompass this feeling of push and pull tension, the dancers were also able to provide artistic input into the piece.

Amador will also perform in “Thanks, A & V,” choreographed by Meredith Stapleton. During “Thanks, A & V,” the audience will be integral to the performance as the dancers interact with them in a unique and humorous manner.

“I worked closely with experiences of the dancers,” Amador said. “I had them think of times where they weren’t sure if they made the right choice or missed an opportunity and then go off that to keep the dance relating to that feeling [of regret or wonderment].”

What: DANCE Graduate/Undergraduate Dance Concert
When: 8 p.m. Today-Saturday
Where: Space/Place
Admission: $8-$14, free for UI students

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