“The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Dance Department’s 2011-12 season theme of ‘Fate & Destiny’ has proven to be very serendipitous, given the losses suffered by the Dance Department during the past year,” observes Associate Professor and Dance Department Chair Simone Ferro, who is artistic director of Winterdances. The season continues Feb. 2-5 with “Winterdances: Fate/Love & Loss.”
The “Fate & Destiny” theme actually was determined two years ago when the department received a major National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant that made possible the presentation of “The Gift/No God Logic” – a work created by choreographer Arnie Zane (1948-1988) near the end of his life.
Ed Burgess, who had been at UWM for more than 20 years, died unexpectedly on May 11, 2011. Shortly before his passing, 15-year faculty member Janet Lilly had notified the Peck School that she would be leaving for a position as head of the Department of Dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance.
While a memorial gathering organized by the Peck School of the Arts brought UWM faculty, staff and students together before most left campus for the summer, there still was a feeling that there should be a formal tribute that would allow for a greater sense of closure, said Ferro. A remembrance event for Burgess is scheduled prior to the final Winterdances performance on Sunday, Feb. 5 from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., with a ceremony from 11 a.m.-noon. The remembrance is at the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd.
“The Gift/No God Logic” is one of Zane’s last dances, which he choreographed in 1987 for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. The work resonates in its simplicity and purity, reflecting Zane’s sensitivity to the visual image created by movement.
“It is the work of a person stripping dance down to the essentials in the face of great loss: stillness, periods of silence, simple patterns, simple poses and gestures, and unusual partnering,” wrote Laura Molzahn in the Chicago Reader.
The presentation is made possible by the NEA as part of “American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius.” The work was reconstructed for thePeck School by guest artist Heidi Latsky, a former member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company whose first performance with the company was in “The Gift/No God Logic.”
“Gotta Go” was originally created and performed by Burgess and guest artist Brian Jeffery in 1991-92, and once revived in 2002. The Dance Department has followed through with Burgess’s plan to reset “Gotta Go” for Winterdances 2012. Guest artist Joe Fransee (who performed in the 2002 revival) has reconstructed and directed “Gotta Go” for two male dance students.
At the premiere of “Gotta Go” in 1991, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel critic Tom Strini described “a frenetic sketch about guys going nowhere in a big hurry…imagine a pair of Grouchos on speed doing ‘Waiting for Godot.’ It’s the funniest dance I have ever seen.” In 2002, Burgess said, “It has been very amusing…passing something fun on to two other guys.”
“All That,” by Associate Professor Darci Brown Wutz, explores “the consequences of the choices we make when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.” The women dancers will display the sensual, athletic, jazz-inspired style that marks Wutz’s work. A second work is a duet for a male and a female dancer, using the same physicality and athleticism of her other work.
“WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???” is a collaboration by Senior Lecturer Dani Kuepper, musician Seth Warren-Crow and dance students. As both a BFA and MFA dance graduate, Kuepper worked extensively with Burgess, who would challenge students to take ownership of their time and talent. The dance features recordings of Burgess’s voice. “Inspired by the cadences and patterns of his voice and life, the dance will explore the use of time – consistently metered, indulgently expansive and, suddenly, halted,” says Kuepper.
“Bring It on Home” is choreographed by Associate Professor Luc Vanier to the music of Led Zeppelin, and will guide student dancers to integrate difficult technical concepts in performance. He quotes Wendell Beaver – “Dance’s most neurotic moments, historically and personally, have come when undigested technique dictates content.”
Vanier says, “The work is my third attempt this year to explore the concept of ballet’s épaulement (shouldering) as an advanced technical element in dancing. Ballet often tricks us to look at the legs while most of the work is actually happening as a coordination of the limbs against the head, neck and back.”
PERFORMANCE DATES AND TIMES
“Winterdances: Fate/Love & Loss” opens Thursday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m. and will be repeated Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3 and 4, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 5, at 2 p.m. in the Mainstage Theatre.
There are pre-show talks at 6:45 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in the Theatre Atrium (second floor). The talk on Friday features former Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company members Latsky and Lilly. An informal reception follows the Friday night performance.
The Sunday matinee follows “A Remembrance of Ed Burgess” held at the Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., with a ceremony from 11 a.m.-noon.
Tickets may be purchased at the Peck School of the Arts Box Office, 414-229-4308. Tickets are $22 general admission; $15 for seniors and UWM alumni, faculty and staff; and $12 for students.
Iain Court is technical director and lighting designer for Winterdances.
The 2011-12 dance season continues with:
- “Into the Woods,” the Peck School’s Musical Theatre production, March 2-4 and 9-11.
- “Summerdances: Destiny/Chance & Circumstance,” May 31-June 2, featuring
Colleen Thomas, New York artist, MFA alumna and third recipient of the department’s Dance New Work Award.
- Choreography from New York artist and MFA student Juliana May in her thesis concert at Danceworks, July 12-13.
- “Dancemakers,” a showcase of Dance MFA student choreography, July 27-28.