Oct. 16, 2009
University of Iowa Department of Dance presents 'Dance Gala 2009: Synergy'
The University of Iowa Dance Department will present "Dance Gala 2009: Synergy," the department's major event of the season, at 8 p.m. Oct. 29-30 and Nov. 5-6, and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 31 and Nov. 7, in the Space Place Theater of UI North Hall.
The diverse program of six works ranges from contemporary to classical, including reconstructions and world premieres. In addition to excerpts from "Psalm," a masterpiece by legendary modern-dance choreographer José Limón, "Synergy" will present three new works and one revival by UI faculty, and the restaging of "Lost Lullabies," a poignant and highly athletic work from the repertory of guest choreographer Carl Flink.
Commenting on this year's title, Dance Gala artistic director Alan Sener said, "'Synergy' means combined and interactive action of individual elements producing a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual parts. 'Dance Gala' celebrates our commitment to present dance repertories that illuminate historical legacies as well as current movements in the field."
"Dance Gala 2009" will feature three reconstructions. The first, Limón's "Psalm," was inspired by the Jewish legend of the Lamed-Vov, or the Last of the Just, 36 men who selflessly unburden their community by taking the sorrows of the world onto their shoulders. Limón explored the story's universal implications through his choreography and tried to convey the spirit of hope that he felt resided under its surface.
For this work, he created some of the most virtuosic and intricate ensemble dancing of his choreographic career. The reconstruction of "Psalm" at the UI was made possible by an American Masterpieces Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and transpired under the guidance of Limón Company veteran Nina Watt.
Watt has been lauded as "a dancer of genius," "the perfect Limón Dancer," and "one of the most important dancers of her generation." The excerpt she selected for the UI is the original opening followed by a female solo and energetic group section plucked from the middle of the original 50-minute work. Sener said, "We are pleased that our students had the opportunity to work with the incomparable Nina Watt, and that they will have the privilege to perform historic dance repertory."
This fall UI students welcomed Flink from Minneapolis. Sener said, "Carl Flink and I met in 1993 at Louis Falco's memorial service in New York City. A few years ago, we came upon the idea to do an exchange. So, in my capacity as artistic director of the Louis Falco Repertory, I staged Louis Falco's 'Escargot' at the University of Minnesota while he was here at Iowa staging his dance, 'Lost Lullabies.'
"We knew the arrangement would be beneficial for each of our students, and it was wonderful to have been involved in a tangible win-win situation that promoted mutual artistic well-being."
Flink is the founder and artistic director of the Minneapolis-based performance group Black Label Movement (BLM). He is also the chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance and the Nadine Jette Sween Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota.
"Lost Lullabies" originally took shape in a workshop with Ballet Arts Minnesota in 2003, and it was premiered at the Walker Art Center in November 2005. Since then, it has been part of BLM's repertory.
"The piece was inspired by the memory of holding my then-infant daughter Willa in my arms in the middle of the night while watching the images of death and destruction coming back from the first year of the second Iraq War," Flink said. "I found the collision of singing lullabies while watching these images devastating as I thought about the young men and women on both sides who were perishing."
The program's third reconstruction is by UI ballet teacher and classical choreographer Deanna Carter. Her works have been presented in Europe, Latin America, Russia, Australia, the United States and Canada. Carter's "Touché par la Lune," set to Beethoven's epic "Moonlight" Sonata, was originally made for the Ballet Quad Cities in 2007.
Carter wanted to make a dance that was a choreographic response to the music and that would provide a novice audience with a means to fall in love with dance. Rather than a narrative ballet, she considers the piece a "music visualization." For "Dance Gala," she restaged the first section of her longer work, a quartette for two couples with the females en pointe. UI School of Music faculty pianist Rene Lecuona will perform the music live.
The remained of the Gala program is entirely new works by UI faculty. Charlotte Adams' choreography has been described as "wickedly whimsical" and "slyly humorous" (The Arizona Daily Star), "arresting" (The New York Times), "gorgeous" and "delicious" (The Tucson Weekly). Her new piece, "White Noise," was created in collaboration with 12 student dancers.
"It presents a mysterious movement language of miscommunication and personal interference," Adams said. The joining of vocal moaning, horns and accordions with the physical intensity of the performers conveys a world of shifting perspectives and visual surprises.
Jennifer Kayle's work has been called "inventive, tightly crafted" (Vox Fringe) and "distinct... looping and episodic," (Hampshire Gazette). She will premiere "The Light House," a quintet that examines the concept of redemption, and how it might be defined or experienced.
"In a collage of recorded texts and embodied scenes, many questions are posed about the possibility or impossibility of being healed, changed and connected to the divine," Kayle said. "Mixing the humorous and the reverent, the work is less a portrait of an idealized condition, and more a meditation on the questions, contradictory states of mind and yearning of the 'seeker'."
The final production, "XX," is by Annett Schaedlich-Hendrix, who has worked as a choreographer, dancer and teacher across Europe and the United States. She currently teaches hip-hop at the UI. Her new work combines seven dancers and five ironing boards. Like robotic dolls, her dancers whiz thorough domestic chores, tying and untying aprons, mechanically interacting with each other and household props, flirting with the audience and eventually manically spinning into overdrive.
Other artistic contributors to Dance Gala 2009 include costume and scenic designer Margaret Wenk-Kuchlbauer and lighting designer Laurel Shoemaker.
The Department of Dance is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI School of Art and Art History.
Tickets are $20 for non-students; $15 for senior citizens; $10 for youth; and $5 for UI Students (with a valid UI ID). Patron tickets, which are available for $100, include an $80 tax-deductible contribution to the Dance Department. Tickets are available in advance from the Hancher box office.
The Hancher Box Office, now located on the first floor of the south end of the Old Capitol Mall near the parking ramp, is open for phone (335-1160 or 800-HANCHER) or walk-up business from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Tickets may be ordered online at http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu. Any remaining tickets will be available for sale one hour before show time at North Hall.
Free parking will be available for Dance Gala audience members in the North Ramp and Lot 18. Handicapped drop-off will be available at the top entrance of North Hall, off Capital Street at the T. Anne Cleary Walkway.
The Department of Dance is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This event is co-sponsored by African American Studies and Communication Studies.
UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: http://calendar.uiowa.edu. For additional arts information, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to http://list.uiowa.edu/archives/acr-news.html and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500