Dance incorporates a feature that other performing arts lack: athleticism. A dancer’s instrument is his or her body and, like professional athletes, there is a limited window of time in which dancers can perform at the highest level of the art. This adds to the emotional gravity of a dance performance. To be in the room when a gifted dancer performs is to bear witness to a concrete manifestation of Hericlitus’ idea that everything flows, nothing stands still. It is also intensely personal; there’s no dry paint on the canvas, no sound of instruments, there’s just the dancer’s self-expression written in pure physicality.
This month, Public Space One will be hosting events and exhibits as part of the third annual Works-in-Progress Festival. Unlike most exhibitions, at WiP it is the feedback that is on display, as local and visiting artists present unfinished works, seeking inspiration and unforeseen collaborations with guests. In this spirit, one of the festival’s more intriguing events will feature a live, largely improvised collaboration between local experimental music duo Lwa and UI Dance graduate students Analía Alegre-Femenías and Elizabeth June Bergman. The performance involves the two dancers performing in shallow pools of water accompanied by, and interacting with, the music of Lwa.
According to Chris Wiersema of Lwa, the performances will present “collaboration in the purest sense–we are going to create an audio environment and textures to accompany these women’s dance pieces, which will change on the basis of the audio we’re presenting.” While the dancers and musicians will meet and map out the performances, the actual performances will be “Instantaneous collaborations, improvised on the basis of each other’s work.”
The dance/Lwa performances will take place Fridays, Oct. 7 and Oct. 28 at 7:00 p.m.
Poetic Rebound Performance Company is an independent dance company founded by Nicole Morford in 2007. The company’s stated goal is to make modern dance accessible to new audiences. To achieve that goal, the company tries to make a direct emotional connection with audiences through their work.
“After seeing a lot of different work … I’ve found my work is much more visceral, much more guttural. It comes from a more emotional place rather than being laid out as more of a story structure. I always have some sort of inspiration behind everything I create. A lot of it’s very personal stuff, but when it’s created as a whole, I don’t necessarily want the audience to get one particular emotion from it. It’s really quite open to interpretation.”
After a tour of Fringe Festivals around the Midwest, Poetic Rebound will present their home concert at Riverside Theater on Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m..
“It’s called ‘Violet Dreams’ and it’s an evening of six original dances, some of which we’ve performed in the past,” Morford told me. “Last year’s show was kind of dark and heavy and there was a lot of emotional content and there’s still a lot of that … but there’s also some lightheartedness, and some wackiness, and some fun.”
Most of the pieces that will be presented at the October showcase are by Morford, but Mareva Minerbi and Jessica Wagner also choreographed new works that will be premiered at the show.
Poetic Rebound’s dances are set to an eclectic variety of music. “A pillar of [Morford’s] work is that it’s purposefully dynamically against the music, or with the music, or there’s no rhythm whatsoever and the movement falls in the middle of the music somewhere.” Some of the music Morford mentioned that will be used in their October show are a guitar piece by Derek Trucks and a meditation piece called “Crown Chakra,” by Jonathan Goldman. Opening the show will be the roots rock band Tallgrass, who may also be involved in an improvisational collaboration with Poetic Rebound’s dancers.
The DIY Effect
A common attribute of both the WiP dance events and Poetic Rebound’s performance is that they are original works, mostly performed by the dancer who created them. While The University of Iowa provides training programs both in the forms of ballet and modern dance, and encourages students to develop their own work, the emphasis is on classical technique and established styles. The works presented this October are more closely related to the do-it-yourself cultural movement that grew originally out of punk-rock music in the 1980s. The dancers and choreographers of these events are driven by an independent, non-academic impulse towards self-expression, taking their traditional training and applying it to something personal and new.
PS1 Works-in-Progress 3: Dance Schedule
All performances are at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
Friday, Oct. 7
-Collaboration, part one: Lwa with Analía Alegre-Femenías and Elizabeth June Bergman
–Teaser by Sarah Genta
Friday, Oct. 14 and Saturday, Oct. 15
-Isaac Sullivan (video) with group movement improvisation by Elizabeth June Bergman, Analía Alegre-Femenías, Amy Lynne Barr and Sarah Genta
-Solo performance by Elizabeth June Bergman
Oct. 11, 18, 19
-Amy Lynne Barr in a three-part work
Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, Oct. 21
–Sarah Genta Encounters the Closet (8 p.m.)
Sunday, Oct. 23
-Panel: De-constructed Thai dance group and Jennifer Weber’s Re-contextualized ballet group with Erin Donohue, Kristin Mars and Peggy Mead-Finizio present a discussion on performance. (2-4 p.m.)
Thursday, Oct. 27
-Thai Dance Finale
Friday, Oct. 28
-Collaboration, part two: Lwa with Analía Alegre-Femenías and Elizabeth June Bergman
-Ensemble group improvisation