Spring Dance Festival features student-faculty collaboration
"Performance is about invoking another reality. So involve all of your senses, so that you're really a real person, not just a maker of shapes. This isn't just an image, this is a world," Rebecca Lazier advised the students performing in her piece, one of several dance works to be performed this weekend in the Program in Theater and Dance's Spring Dance Festival 2004.
Lazier's piece, "Arctic Light," a meditative dance that attempts to create a sense of open space and ritual, will appear alongside dances by her colleagues Ze'eva Cohen, the head of dance studies, Meghan Durham and guest choreographer Jessica Lang. The program, the first of its kind to be held in the new Roger S. Berlind Theatre in the McCarter Theatre Center, will also feature the work of student choreographers.
The pieces that will be performed range from Cohen's 1977 signature work "Rainwood," an exploration of the possibilities of movement in an imaginary rainforest danced to nature sounds, to a new work by graduate student Christina Burnett '90 danced to percussion and concerned with the vicissitudes of balance and the flow of movement.
But, said Lazier, "There are threads that run through all of them. They're all sacred, in a way. They all have this transformative theme."
The dances in the performance also seem to share a focus on what Lazier described to her students as "the constant ebb and flow of interaction," which takes the form of whimsical interplay between three dancers carrying paddleball rackets in Melanie Velo-Simpson's '04 piece, and extends into the creative process itself in Maria Ciocca '05's piece, developed in collaboration with composer Drew Fornarola '06.
Ciocca and Fornarola have known each other since high school, and Ciocca decided to choreograph to music Fornarola had written last spring.
"My piece is actually about a relationship between two people, where one person is struggling to help the other but can't. My goal was to take a highly personal experience and put it out there—make it more universal," Ciocca said.
The music will be performed by live musicians, and, in turn, the development of the dance reshaped the music, Fornarola said.
"We brought the players in to see the dance, and that changed their playing. It gave the music more depth than is on the page," he added.
The program includes a solo piece by senior Hana Ginsberg '04 that taps into the energy of exasperation and work by freshman Hans Rinderknecht '07, whose first formal dance training took place this semester. His piece, set to music by Frank Sinatra, emerged from "a recurring theme in [his] work from the semester: duets, but duets with only one dancer," he said.
The move to the Berlind Theatre has opened up new possibilities: It allows Ciocca's live musicians to play onstage and makes possible the projection of artwork by Avri Ohana in Cohen's piece.
"We will be able to more fully realize the dreams of the choreographers. The move to the new space has been fueled by excitement. The lighting alone, the sound—it will be wonderful to be in a space designed for dance," Lazier said.
The Program in Theater and Dance's Spring Dance Festival will take place Feb. 20 and 21 at 8 p.m. in the Roger S. Berlind Theatre in the McCarter Theatre Center. Tickets are $10 at the McCarter Box Office.
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