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Graduate students present dance concert

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | MARCH 31, 2011 7:20 AM

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A combination of hanging and standing heavy antique doors surrounds a group of 15 dancers. Throughout the piece, the dancers build and tear down the structures.

“[The doors] are all really old and have a lot of character,” said Amy Barr, a student in the M.F.A. dance program. “They are almost like other entities in themselves.”

At the end of the piece, a dancer opens one of the hanging doors, and for Barr, it’s a way to symbolize that there’s always an open door.

“An Implicated Distance: the bridge, the closet, the shelf, the couch, to build something else … the revolving door, home” is one of five pieces being presented during Beginning Again All the Time, an M.F.A. thesis concert featuring works by Barr, Anna Maris, and Sarah Genta. The concert will begin at 8 p.m. today in Space/Place, with performances continuing at 8 p.m. through Saturday.

Admission is $6 for seniors and youth, $12 for the general public, and free for University of Iowa students with valid IDs.

Barr’s piece, which uses doors as a metaphor, is based on the concept of home.

“I’ve moved a lot and have had tons of homes, so it’s about what the notion of home ends up being in that transit whether it’s the people, the stuff, or the place,” she said.

Unlike her piece, which she solely created, Maris and Genta collaborated with different choreographers for their works.

For Maris’ piece, “Slip One Stitch; Knit Two Slip Stitches Together,” her goal as a performer was to see how she could share the experience with the audience.

“I was interested in making the dance more than just a visual experience, so I chose to work with another graduate student, Johanna Kirk,” she said. “We started working on the concept of shared experience and how something can happen in the theater but also be connected to things that happen before and after.”

Her first step in creating her piece was to send letters to family and friends asking for knitted materials because she wanted to use yarn as a metaphor. For Maris, yarn connects people; knitting is where people come together and share stories.

The piece starts off with a solo in which she searches for answers and support from the other five dancers on stage. The audience finds out that she has lost the sense of what her story is, so she is continually searching for meaning in this magical and whimsical world.

Piles of books, benches, and a large yarn sculpture create the atmosphere on stage, which will be accented with random spools of yarn. The sculpture was also the inspiration for the dancers’ costumes, featuring such bright colors as teal, rosy pink, and green.

While Genta may not have physical props on stage, she does include a projection in her duet piece. She gathered video clips of body parts from her friends and family to recognize that there are parts of human bodies that touch other people.

“It’s an exploration of a really simple human interaction between strangers and friends and how that contact gets incorporated in yourself,” Genta said. “The inspiration came from a handshake I had with a man in the library.”

Her two other pieces, neither of which uses projection, are a solo and an improvised trio with Barr and undergraduate Sarah Gonsiorowski.

“The trio isn’t a planned definition of movement, but the point and reason is that it’s in the moment, and there is an equally shared responsibility for making this artistic piece,” Genta said. “The process is revealed as it’s created.”

Though the three M.F.A. students created the concert together, each piece stands alone and tells a different story.

“Every day, every situation, every circumstance is unique in a different way,” Genta said.


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