Thaddeus Davis' If Only I... is one of the original contemporary dance works being performed in On The Edge, an evening of contemporary dance at Drayton Hall Theatre, February 13-16.
Photo by Jason Ayer.
The University of SC Dance Company will perform works created specifically for them by leading contemporary dance choreographers in On the Edge, being presented at USC's Drayton Hall Theatre, February 13-16, 2013.
Show time is 7:30pm each evening. Tickets for the concert are $12 for students, $16 for USC faculty/staff, military and seniors (60+) and $18 for the general public. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the box office at (803) 777-5112, or can be charged by phone at (803) 251-2222. Drayton Hall Theatre is located at 1214 College St.
The evening includes works by highly respected professional dance artists, including: Amanda Miller, former resident choreographer for William Forsythe's influential Ballet Frankfurt; William Evans, an internationally known choreographer, performer, teacher and movement analyst; and, USC assistant professors Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman-Davis, who together are artistic directors for Wideman/Davis Dance Company. Together and individually, Thaddeus and Tanya have created new works for such illustrious companies as Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Fugate/Bahiri Ballet NY, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Donald Byrd/The Group and Reflections Dance Company, as well as several notable pieces for the USC Dance Company. Davis was the 2003 recipient of the prized Choo San Goh award for choreography.
Miller's Japanese Butterfly springs from the choreographer's innovative improvisation work with the dancers, which began in the Fall, 2012 semester. Choreographer Amanda Miller says it was a period of personal exploration. "I first came and worked with the girls for a week this Thanksgiving so I could see where they were at from a curiosity, intelligence and commitment standpoint. To see their desires and find out who they were and what they wanted from themselves."
The results of that initial work inspired Miller to work with the dancers to create a piece that comes from their collective experience. "The piece is basically about the girls and where they are in their lives, growing up, searching for the independence, getting ready to leave school and figure out how to make decisions," she says.
In-store for the audience and the dancers is a work which concert director Thaddeus Davis calls "a living, breathing organism."
"We're really trying to give our students these experiences where they begin to understand that choreography isn't always boxed in, where you take it out like a pair of shoes and every time it's the same shoe. As it starts to live, it should be breathing constantly."
Miller is the second recent connection the dance company has made with professionals who have worked closely with legendary contemporary dance artist William Forsythe, esteemed for his role in bringing ballet technique into the new millennium. Last year, choreographer Helen Pickett created a brand new work for USC's spring contemporary concert.
"What I like about the people I've connected with from Ballet Frankfurt is their openness," says Davis. "Amanda isn't inhibited with who she is and isn't really trying to convince her students that they need to be a certain way. She is making space for them to figure it out for themselves. We're constantly trying to get our students to go outside of their comfort zone and it's difficult because they see us every day. It's beneficial for us to bring in guest artists who will pull them out of their comfort zone so when they get back to us, they go 'Wow, I get it.' It reinforces the ideas we've been teaching for the entire time they have been here with us."
Guest Artist William Evans' work, Dreamtime, was created for the university's dance education majors during the previous academic year. Recent dance education alum, Garry Hilton, and senior dance education student Jennifer Coffey will act as rehearsal directors in recreating the piece.
Instructor Diane McGhee Valle, director of USC's dance education track, says that the dance "explores developmental movement, from crawling to creeping to walking." She cites Evans' descriptions of the piece as being "an experience of the power of the natural world…primal, grounded, powerful and full-bodied."
Valle and Evans were on faculty together at the State University of New York at Brockport. "He is an incredible rhythmic artist and pioneer in mind-body integration," she says. "He is also a renaissance man, a performer and choreographer whose career has spanned many categories of dance, from ballet to modern to American tap…I know him as a marvelous inventor of rhythmic movement. In the case of Dreamtime, William has again changed his choreographic stride to delve into the animalistic tendencies of man."
In addition to a prolific choreographic career, Evans is acclaimed for his Evans Modern Dance Technique and its Teaching Certification Program, which has influenced thousands of dancers and dance educators since the technique was introduced in 1976. Evans is the Artistic Director of his own Bill Evans Dance Company.
Tanya Wideman-Davis will premiere an all-female work entitled Scopophilic Instinct, which she says takes its inspiration from a photo published in the magazine Artforum that caught her imagination. "I don't even know who the photographer is," she says. "It's an image of eight women in black dress and big, black pompadour hairstyles sitting in chairs in a gravel courtyard. They have very distinct personalities, but their wardrobe is very similar and they have sinister gazes towards the camera."
She says the piece explores the concepts of the female gaze, abstraction and visual culture. "I feel it's important for me to make work for the students that gives them a sense of empowerment and leads to reflection of their status as women and artists of 2013. It will not have a concrete storyline, but the work will make you look at the dynamics of women and interpret your own conclusions."
Two original works by Thaddeus Davis, K.A.R.C. and If Only I..., round out the schedule for the evening. If Only I..., a contemporary dance theatre work, made its debut last fall in the Voices of Choreography concert.
For more information about On The Edge or the dance program at the University of South Carolina, please contact Kevin Bush via phone at (803) 777-9353 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.