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Dancing into Collaboration

BY JUSTUS FLAIR | DECEMBER 05, 2013 5:00 AM

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Graceful dancing, swelling music, and dramatic performance will combine for three nights this weekend in North Hall’s Space/Place.

The Collaborative Performance put on by the Dance Department, School of Music, School of Art and Art History, Theater Department, and Center for the Book combines a variety of disciplines into one all-encompassing performance.

The event will begin at 8 p.m. today with performances continuing through Saturday. Admission is free for UI students with valid IDs, $6 for youth and seniors, and $12 for the general public.

For those involved, the production allows the chance to experience new forms of art.

“As an artist, I loved having the opportunity to work with artists in other disciplines,” said Alex Bush, a second-year M.F.A. student and marketing assistant for the Dance Department. “The M.F.A. in the dance program is so intense that it’s often difficult to find time to connect with individuals working in other art forms. This class is valuable in that it brings people together to work through the creative process and to consider new approaches or ways of working that are not always readily apparent in one’s own field.”

Esther Baker-Tarpaga, a UI dance visiting assistant professor working on the production refers to her role as “professor/facilitator/provocateur.” She is quite familiar with the need to study other art forms.

“I am an interdisciplinary artist. My background as a choreographer, dancer, and performance artist fuels my creative work,” she said. “I bring [experiences] to my teaching and the work I have done this semester with the students at University of Iowa. In addition, cross-cultural and disciplinary dialogue is enriching as well, because you learn a lot about your own habits, patterns, and self.”

Bush recognized this gain of knowledge throughout the process, in particular with the staging of the show, which she can incorporate into her work.

“This performance includes a lot of installations, which I had never really linked with dance before, but the way we’ve formatted this concert — it just works,” she said. “The audience members get to make choices as they experience this performance — they decide what to watch, where to be in the space, what perspective they’d like to try. I’ve always loved how this is possible in art galleries but never considered it something I would want to do as a choreographer. Now I know that it’s a format I would revisit in my own work— it’s really ripe with possibility.”

Throughout the semester, Baker-Tarpaga has seen these possibilities and this potential in her students.

“The graduate students in this course are phenomenally talented,” she said. “This type of cross-disciplinary collaboration course is important to the future of the arts field — thus, I am inspired to continue forward and make more spaces and projects where this type of cross-pollination occurs.”
This also allows these artists to reach a wider audience.

“This collaboration provided me with a better chance to explore things at a more diverse level than just being in my own department,” said Kuldeep Singh, a second-year visual-arts graduate student. “The challenges that we artists encounter in our everyday art and the backgrounds that we come from are extremely important to us. Being in this collaborative performance, I am showing my specific range of practice to a much wider audience than just artists in the university campus here.”

Bush recognizes that the inclusion of such differing works of art, while helpful to the creativity of the artists, is also helpful for this widespread audience.

“This performance has a little something for everyone,” she said. “Everyone will find something familiar with which they can identify. We also hope that everyone will also experience something new and surprising that will lead them to reconsider what’s possible in performance.”


DANCE
Collaborative Performance
When: 8 p.m. today, Friday, and Saturday
Where: North Hall Space/Place
Admission: Free for UI students with valid IDs, $6 for youth and seniors, $12 general public


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