Sounding Bodies is the Contemporary Dance wing of IU’s Department of Theatre and Drama’s Winter Dance’s answer to the challenges of Covid-19. The faculty’s choreographers worked indoors and out -doors to offer the students a richly creative and safe experience. Tickets for the zoom experience at 7:30 through this Saturday, Dec. 19 are available the day before from the department.
If you attend, you’ll see three dozen masked dancers, bare footed and in shoes, dressed by three costumers and one mask designer, lighted by six visual artists, accompanied by percussive music and choreographed by six faculty members. The dances offer “protest with dissent, resilience, education, action and (a bit of) healing.”
Dance has always been a feature of Hollywood’s movies and the basic spectacular long shots, close ups and geometrical patterns are a part of our visual heritage. But when we come to a performance, we’re stuck in our seats divorced from the dancers on stage. Department Chair Liz Shea told me that she and the students and the other choreographers had to think, try, and then try again to use these new opportunities to communicate.
Her “Shadow and Flame” had the dancers in flowing off the shoulder tops and olive trousers. The dancers did indeed flow and the camera was very active. It was an inside performance with lots of close ups and long shots.
Professor Beatrice Capote is new to the department. She has a web site and no IU e-mail address yet. Her work, mixed the long haired, bare footed dancers in mildly generous yellow dresses and later more aggressive dancers in more restrictive red and black for contrast. Later her “Yamaha, Rebirth to Existence” offered a single dancer. The whole scene was in a blue tint with what looked like a rug and a decorative blue chair. The dancer was fully dressed and took that rug for an outer garment in a gracious piece accompanied by live music.
Professor Selene Carter’s “Flag in the Middle of Nowhere” choreography says “I never liked the name Priscilla” mixed in at the beginning and at the end. It was a complex piece with lots of language. There were dolls, lovers, a basement, an outside, shadows, costs, and a litany of ‘Don’ts.” The American flag was at the center and the dancers wore short sheeve, aprons and trousers. During the dance, the flag was expertly folded.
Baba Stafford C. Berry, Jr. ask us to call him Baba Stafford as a bow to his focus on Africa and its dance. His “The Way Forward, May Not Be Linear” combined inside and outside work with the dancers in shoes. There were scenes around the campus and I was surprised to see cars driving through. The inside scenes and the outside scenes were nicely harmonized. I understand that during rehearsal mosquitos were a problem. It was accompanied by three congas and a drum set.
Erik Abbot Main’s “May I Borrow a Cup of Salt” featured snow on floor and tinsel in the dancer’s hands. They were loosely dressed and a bit restricted to the space with the snow. As the dance went on the snow gradually got a bit scattered.
This week’s performances of the Winter Concert by IU’s Contemporary Dance are a series of creative responses by the faculty and the students. In addition to the six faculty members There were six lighting artists, three costumers, a mask creator, a sound designer, and a props person helping.
Safe at home, I’m George Walker