‘Moving’ Dance Concert Finds Its Places on Campus

Experience dance in a new way with a “progressive performance” of the Ursinus College Dance Company. Audiences will move from one location to another to see the choreographed pieces, some of which are site-specific. One piece pays tribute to Environmental Studies research. The concert is May 1, 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 general admission and $2 senior citizens and students. Reservations can be made at the Box Office, www.ursinus.edu/tickets. The Box Office can be reached at 610-409-3030.

Choreographers worked with the theme of a “sense of place,” and offer a variety of perspectives, including the places we go to find solace, the places or situations that feel like home, the process of finding ourselves, and what happens when a place is consciously transformed.

The concert begins with faculty member Karen Clemente’s piece, which takes place on the labyrinth just outside the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center. This piece is a collaboration with writer Brooke Sexton, and explores how the ritual space of a labyrinth provides a place for reflection, contemplation and discernment.

Amy Smith’s piece takes place in the architecturally unique Kaleidoscope lobby. Smith is a founder and co-director of Headlong Dance Theater, a groundbreaking performance creation research platform in Philadelphia. Since 1993, Headlong has created collaborative dance theater works, and toured nationally. The ensemble for this piece includes students from the Dance Program Capstone course, as well as other student performers.

From the lobby, the performance progresses to the Blackbox Theater, where faculty member Jeanine McCain’s piece will be performed “in the round,” with audience members surrounding all sides.  This piece is a collaboration with Music department faculty Garrett Hope and Environmental Studies department faculty Patrick Hurley. The dance and music are inspired by Philadelphia urban reclamation projects that have transformed vacant lots into gardening plots and community spaces. The piece creates an allegory that explores this transformation on an environmental, personal and community level. This particular piece represents an interdisciplinary and collaborative work between Patrick (ENV), Jeanine McCain (Dance), and Garrett Hope (Music). The theme is  the transformation of urban environments (back) into green spaces and is based on the work/interviews that Dr. Hurley and students have done in Philadelphia. Props are repurposed items from Pottstown Recycling Center.

From the Blackbox, the performance moves into the Lenfest Theater, where the final two pieces will be performed. Gesel Mason and Tim O’Donnell, professional guest artists currently working at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Arizona State University, combine their diverse movement backgrounds to play in the rich intersection between contact improvisation and contemporary dance. Building on the ideas of “home,” “belonging” and “chaos” — physically and metaphorically — their movement investigations range from the gentle and subtle, to the rhythmic and driving, to the acrobatic and fluidly athletic.

For the final piece on the Lenfest stage, choreographer Jeannine Osayande and lead musician Ira Bond, of Dunya Performing Arts Company based in the Philadelphia area, have collaborated on a dynamic African dance piece which includes live drumming. As an exploration of the concert theme, the creative process for this piece began with students sharing stories and offering their personal movement interpretations of a sense of belonging and home. The audience will be invited to join the dance in the concert finale.

The first three pieces will include standing and walking from one site to the next. Chairs will be provided for anyone who cannot stand for the duration of the first, outdoor piece, and umbrellas are recommended if the forecast is rain.

Jeanine McCain is producer and artistic director. The design, production and management team includes faculty member Karen Clemente, associate producer; guest artist Com Chacon, lighting designer; guest artist Brian Strachan, costume designer; Jacob Rothermel, technical director and production manager; and students Eva Schelly and Briana Anderson.