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UI Dance Faculty/Grad Students collaborate

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | FEBRUARY 16, 2012 6:30 AM

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In the quiet confines of Space/Place, 10 dancers take the stage, waiting for the music to begin.

The performers are dressed in costumes made of ruffles, plaid, and lace, and they begin to dance a synchronized, repetitive sequence.

Associate Professor Jennifer Kayle often invites dancers to participate in the development of creating movement for her pieces. She considers her students to be collaborators, and she enjoys having them as a part of the creative research.

"Whatever material the dancers produce, I as a director kind of manipulate and reform those bits of choreography, so that it's really harmonious with the whole statement," she said. "I like to do that because it produces numerous angles and solutions to the problem, and that gives me a lot to think about."

 

Kayle's piece, "I see how I will have missed you before it happens," will be one of eight pieces to take the stage at 8 p.m. today in North Hall's Space/Place.

Performances will continue through Saturday. Admission is free for UI students with valid IDs, $6 for seniors, and $12 for the general public.

The other choreographers are faculty members Eloy Barragán and Alan Sener and graduate students Joseph Cox, Jennifer Harge, Jiaxi Li, Zoe Bennett, and Jessica Anthony.

The collaboration process is an important element for all of these choreographers, and some, such as Kayle, take another step by collaborating with a composer and costume designer.

Her piece looks at human states of mind and feeling with regard to the past and future.

"[The piece focuses on] the expectation that something is or isn't going to happen and specifically the anxiety that gets created by thinking in that way," Kayle said.

For this reason, the concept of zooming back and forth in memory is something Kayle also wanted to capture with her music. So with the help of composer Carlos Cuellar Brown, elements of looping and overlapping were included in the score.

Brown was provided a working rehearsal video of the choreography, and he was briefed on Kayle's ideas before he started to create the score. One thing he wanted to incorporate was sound elements that reflected the nature of past, present, and future.

"A successful sound score enhances the performance and maybe even elevates it," he said. "The idea is that it will not so much get in the way of the choreography and the dancers, but rather, it supports the work and gives the audience a structure that enables full enjoyment."

Kayle also had a lot of input for the costume design of her piece. Costume designer Juliana Waechter helped emphasize the dance by adding such texture as lace and ruffles to the costumes to signify the concepts of past and memory.

"What you are going to see is not a piece about a memory that is faint — there are a lot of strong movements, so we emphasize that with a bolder color," she said. "The little bit of lace and ruffle shows that the memory is something they are going to hold on to."

Composers, costume designers, choreographers, and the dancers make the concert an integral part of the Dance Department's program.

"There is always a theme, but the subject is always dancing and the composition of the body in space and time," Kayle said. "The concerts are really important vehicles of learning for the artists, performers, and students. I feel so lucky and blessed about putting that at the center of my professional life; it's a gift."


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