The School of Theatre & Dance is excited to present DanceTech, March 5-7, in the intimate The CH Foundation The Legacy of Christine DeVitt Black Box Theatre, our first time performing in this new space. Last year's DanceTech, staged outdoors around the CASP 5&J Gallery in downtown Lubbock, projected the narrative onto the architectural context of the environment. This year, the intimate space of the Black Box allows our audiences to really focus in on the choreography itself.
Choreographers for this year's production are guest artist Kim Jones and dance faculty members Kyla Olson, Ali Duffy, Tanya Calamoneri, Genevieve Durham DeCesaro, and myself. Below are thoughts from our choreographers about their works, delineating what we hope our audiences will take away from the experience.
My choreographic work, "you can't rewrite the past | change is coming," explores climate change through the classical elements of water, wind, fire, and earth, what the planet has suffered by the hands of humanity. The dancers reflect on their contributions to global warming, encouraging the audience to do the same. We create the work around a sphere sculpture by local artist Jonathan Whitfill, with beautiful hand-painted costumes designed by Katherine Davis.
As artistic director of the first dance production in the new black box theatre, I am excited to see dance presented in this intimate space. Each work reflects the strengths of each choreographer in collaboration with student and faculty designers. In addition to the collaboration with Jonathan Whitfill, we are lucky to have guest artist Kim Jones and guest performer, Clara Zahler from the TTU School of Music, included in this year's production.
"The Entertainer's Aria" navigates the unpredictable terrain of human interaction, largely questioning the ways in which first impressions set the stage (so to speak) for our expectations. The performers negotiate the ways in which humor, sound, touch, ways of moving, and space work to define and construct assumptions and environments.
In a nutshell, I explore the sound score as a sort-of absurdist rendition of a traditional piece of music. Without meaning to make such a connection, I am struck that such an exploration reflects our current state of affairs (generally speaking): an absurdist rendition of a traditional social order. I collaborated with doctoral student Shane Strawbridge on this piece and he helped to clarify the context of the work by offering astute and pointed observations and by asking excellent questions of me and the dancers. I hope audiences find something relevant in this work, though I don't have any particular expectations for what that might be.
My idea for creating "The Reunion" came from my parents, whose love story began when they were in high school in the summer of '69. This past summer, they co-chaired their class's 50th reunion committee, and the hilarious and touching stories that emerged from their experiences with each other and with their classmates over a span of 50 years were too rich to ignore as an artist. Creating this work, I incorporated stylized theatrical dance, nostalgic musical selections, and projected imagery within a narrative structure I developed with playwright Shane Strawbridge.
My piece is an aerial work that on one level traces the metamorphosis of a caterpillar, and on another poetically manifests the emergence of the self as we develop through different stages of our lives.
The costumes are gorgeously painted creations by Mallory Prucha, and the dancers realize stunning images with three silk cocoons that hang from the ceiling.
Guest Artist, Kim Jones:
The excerpt from a longer work is in response to our need to care of the environment and of each other.
I very much enjoyed working with the TTU students. They were warm, receptive, respectful and willing to work with me in an intense schedule. I enjoyed their improvisation and was happy to incorporate their work into the dance.
"Trio," is set to two very different scores for violin. The first score - Berlin By Overnight - was composed by minimalist composer Max Richter in 2008, and the second, Sonata for Violin and Continuo No. 3: Imitazione delle campane is by Johann Paul von Westhoff, a composer who worked in the 1600s. Both pieces of music will be played live by violinist Clara Zahler, who has worked nationally with American Symphony Orchestra, and New York Pops, as well as internationally with Bolshoi Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Kirov Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet and more.
It has been a great privilege for dancers Anna Rubio and Deborah De-Farias and me to work with Clara Zahler, to collaborate on tempos and textures, and to see this exchange take on a creative shape of its own. I believe so passionately in the need for our dance students to have the opportunity to work with live music, and collaborating with Clara Zahler has been eye-opening for them and me. Clara has an extraordinary depth of knowledge of music and is a virtuosic artist who has the ability to make profound and delicate changes in the moment, which inspired the rest of us to do the same. She was incredibly generous in the creative process: listening, contributing, and shaping the overall vision for the work.
I hope we can continue these types of collaborations with the School of Music as well as with other disciplines because of the wonderful breadth they add to our students' education in the arts.
Tickets for DanceTech can be purchased online.