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Music, dance, and theater unite

BY JOSIE JONES | DECEMBER 10, 2009 7:30 AM

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Keely Glenn has been dancing since she was a child, but she never imagined she could make a career out of the art.

She is a choreographer in the UI’s graduate dance program, currently working in collaboration with other artists to produce a unique performance.

“We’re creating something that would be impossible without the help of people in other fields,” Glenn, 24, said.

The Collaborative Dance Performance will take the stage today in North Hall’s Space/Place. The performance will continue through Saturday, with all performances at 8 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for seniors and youth, and free to UI students with valid IDs.

“I don’t even know what to call them,” Charlotte Adams, the undergraduate dance program director, said about the performances. “They have dance in them, they have music in them, and there will be live musicians on stage. There are all kinds of things.”

The creations originated in her Collaborative Performance class for graduate students in different arts programs. The class brings students from different arts together and creates the opportunity for them to create unique performances with each others’ talents. The class is offered every fall with one performance during the semester.

This semester’s class consists of 12 students, ranging in majors from music to theater to dance, divided into three groups. Each group of students works to develop a collaborative creation, all of which will be performed at the event.

“I’m really excited about what they’re creating,” Adams said. “Each work is really different.”

Although the performances were developed separately and each contains a central theme, there is an overlap of interests. The performance is called Mixed Signals because each performance is based on some sort of signal. One piece is about technological communication, mainly dealing with cell phones. Another centers on the absence and presence of sensation.

Glenn’s group used the image of a swing as a starting point. The piece focuses on kinetic and potential energy — how it’s created and transmitted in the body and in the music.

Because each group consists of only four members, the students are able to bring in other artists — such as dancers and musicians — to perform in the piece. One group even encourages the audience to participate by having the members use their cell phones to send text messages to direct the performers.

“It’s interesting the things they’re experimenting with,” Adams said.

Glenn said a difficult part of the collaboration is being able to understand other art forms, but “it’s never frustrating if you’re patient enough to listen and to keep working until you’re all there.”

“You have to be willing to change your process as much as musicians would change their process,” she said. “So that ultimately, the final product is nothing you would have imagined or had envisioned because of all these different arts coming together.”

Glenn thinks gaining the knowledge of the language of other arts will help later on in her career.

“I’ve gained confidence in other fields during this process,” she said. “I feel like wherever I go next, I’ll be able to carry that knowledge to my next piece and be able to say it clearer.”


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