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Students and pros combine for Spring Dance


This weekend’s Spring Dance Performance includes a senior MAP production by Noga Ashkenazi ’09 and some of the most ambitious multimedia dance performances to date. In addition to Ashkenazi’s pieces, the four-part, 45-minute production features students performing choreography by guest instructors Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer— borrowed from their New York dance company— and Shawn Womack, Theatre.

Along with Jaysen Wright’s ’09 “Ties That Bind,” the Spring Dance Performance honors the Theater and Dance Department’s goal to use the year’s fourth main stage production to develop and display student pieces alongside work from guest artists.

“It’s a laboratory for new work,” Womack said. “Two of the works presented are MAPs by senior Theatre majors.”

Womack specifically emphasized the importance of combining student work with that of professional artists.

“It’s important for us to bring guest artists in dance to work with students,” Womack said. “But it’s of primary importance that we offer students opportunities to create their own work.”

“It feels like such an achievement for our department to have two MAP performances and for the quality of attention that the students have given to their artistic work,” Womack continued. “Both Noga and Jaysen are very clear in their vision and very clear in articulating their vision for what they want.”

Ashkenazi’s two-part MAP includes “Dangerous Calm,” which features 15 dancers, and a solo piece titled “Long Distance,” which Ashkenazi will perform. Both works incorporate video shot by Ashkenazi near her home in Israel over winter break.

“[For “Dangerous Calm], I filmed in the Israeli desert by the Dead Sea and in a construction site in Tel Aviv,” Ashkenazi said. “I’m working with those two places that seem very different—desert versus city … I’m trying to bridge the gap between these two spaces and show a vision in which they’re not that different. I wanted the video to inform the dance just as much as the dance will inform the video.”

Her solo piece, “Long Distance,” uses film shot on an Israeli bus. Ashkenazi began working on the solo while taking film and dance courses during her study abroad in Paris last year.

“I’ve been doing film for many years,” Ashkenazi said, “so editing wasn’t new to me. But it was challenging in terms of projection formats and working with Roberts’ space and the projector they had there, so it wasn’t one hundred percent smooth but [not] too complicated either.”

Bridgman and Packer held rehearsals for “Traveling Feast,” the program’s final piece, over ten days in January and returned for two days of work last week. Womack conducted rehearsals in the interim, some of which incorporated the choreographers via Skype. The piece will use a live video feed to project half of the dancers onto the backs of coats worn by the other five performers.

“It’s been a real challenge,” Aniko Drlik-Muehleck ’11 said. “You have to get the spacing so precise so that the video isn’t distorted when it’s projected. It takes a lot of extra little marks on the stage and moving around to try and get it right.”

“We’re working with a couple different projectors, so that makes things a little more complicated” Illyanna Logan ’09 said. “It’s taken more time in tech rehearsals, but I think the pieces come out looking more unique. We’re doing things more multimedia than dance usually is and I think it looks very cool.”

The Spring Dance Performance continues with shows at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday along with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday in Bucksbaum’s Roberts Theater.

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