Summerdances 2014: ‘Lineage’

Summerdances 2014: “Lineage” features new works by dance faculty Ferne Bronson, Maria Gillespie, Elizabeth Johnson and Dani Kuepper.

It also features New York Artist and MFA alumna Rebecca Stenn, recipient of the 2014 Dance New Work Award.

“With the final concert of the Dance Department’s 50th anniversary season, we are honoring connections,” said Associate Professor of Dance Luc Vanier. “Our lineage is the faculty who have been here, faculty who are still here, faculty who will come here – and their connections to each other and to the students.”

By celebrating this 50th anniversary, the department also is highlighting the knowledge and wisdom that has brought it to the present. “Our department is really lucky that way – our faculty ranges from people who have been here 45 years to those who have been here two years. And we’re looking to hire someone new!”

Several choreographers for Summerdances are presenting perspectives that will illustrate where the department has come from. “It’s important that our student dancers connect to that lineage and the line of information that has been passed down.”

Vanier adds: “People who have the attitude of, ‘Oh, you dance, you just move around,’ don’t realize that dancing requires an integration of information from many fields. We are training students to keep their bodies and minds open, even as they face the stress of figuring out where they fit as artists.”

Summerdances will be presented May 29-31 at the Mainstage Theatre. Ticket prices are $17 general admission/$15 seniors, faculty and staff/$5 students pre-sale ($8 night of show)/free for dance majors. More information is at

Choreographers preview their dances in words

Elizabeth Johnson:
“Thirty-five years ago, The Clash permeated punk rock with notions of social justice – themes of poverty, lack of opportunity and work for young people, and antiwar sentiments underlie some of their most iconic songs. ‘Stand Till You Fall,’ to five of their songs, uses ironic caricature to direct imaginations towards issues that haven’t found answers decades later. Seven performers are happy reggae sheep unwittingly led to slaughter as well as waltzing soldiers wielding percussive, buoyant hip-hoppish athleticism and a shepherd’s crook. Even as news of a tragically familiar scenario breaks (another traumatized young serviceman violently taking lives and then his own), the dance asks the ultimate existential question – from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” to The Clash: ‘Should I stay or
should I go?’”

Rebecca Stenn:
“‘Do not go gentle’ is a work that explores the idea of danger. The performers play with hovering on the precipice, of almost falling, of almost reaching the edge. It is a piece about danger and restraint, about connection and isolation, about dissonance and resolve. With a score by Nine Inch Nails, the work explores both a relentless surge forward and an ironic look back.”

Dani Kuepper:
“The process of creating ‘Cordial gaggle…crooked wing’ has been a twisting, turning kind of journey, responding to the contributions of 10 dancers/collaborators. To begin, we played the parlor game, ‘Exquisite Corpse,’ in which each player adds a word to a sentence, having no knowledge of the words that came before. A set of sentences that emerged was, ‘Peppers are laughs, quietly slinked down. Yes, no limes. Cordial people, happily engaged…roughly.’ From this nonsensical set of words, each dancer created aptly idiosyncratic movement. Next, they borrowed movements from one another to develop absurdly cohesive movement conversations. The result is a whimsical event that builds slowly, evolves and collides in a community of interdependency.”

Maria Gillespie:
“Bloom Unfinished” was choreographed by Maria Gillespie in close collaboration with the cast. This dance began as a collaborative exploration into identity, memory, metaphor and the ways these are archived in our corporeal experiences. This work constructs a landscape in which dancers find space to invest in who they are now and how their identity is perceived, projected or embodied. Forming a lexicon based on the performers’ experiences of self in the world, Gillespie creates a framework for considering how we construct meaning in motion.

Ferne Bronson:
“Using both African and modern genres, this work challenges the performers to align all of their previous training within a structure of rhythmic and contextual interplay. Throughout the planet humans demonstrate a diverse palette of ritualistic actions to serve, communicate with and for God. This is often done through dance that can be meditative, quiet, loud, calming and/or vibrantly celebratory.”