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Faculty Choreographers Collaborate with Campus Colleagues in Concert
October 27, 2009

Image by Teo Ladodicivideo via Flickr

The “thinking dancer,” a concept long embraced by the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Dance Program, takes on new meaning in the program’s Fall Faculty Concert, SPLASH!, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21, at the Wisconsin Union Theater, 800 Langdon St.

In a collaborative venture, Dance Program faculty artists put their heads together with campus colleagues from the School of Human Ecology, Art Department, School of Music, Department of Theatre and Drama, Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience and UW–Extension to create and present new works for this special event.

The performance includes dynamic choreography and live music, with visually rich lighting, costumes, scenic designs and video.

The Dance Program also received a National Endowment for the Arts: Master Dance award to host renowned, New York-based Susan Marshall and Company members in residence to re-stage Marshall’s master work “Name by Name.” Its Madison premiere will be performed by 18 Dance Program students.

In addition to overseeing final rehearsals, Marshall, recently named first director of dance at Princeton University, will share her perspective of dance in higher education and life as a choreographer at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, in Lathrop Hall, 1050 University Ave. Her talk, “A Contemporary Dance Perspective,” is free and open to the public.

“This whole process has been a wonderful journey,” says Jin-Wen Yu, Dance Program chair and concert coordinator. “We’re fortunate to have so many talented artists and intellects to work with. By sharing our visions, by moving out of our comfort zones, we’ve created new realities and visions … which ultimately encouraged and challenged all of us to grow.”

Yu and Olga Trubetskoy (UW-Extension Services in Pharmacy) have collaborated to create a physically dynamic and visually stunning group dance titled “Metabolic Dance.” The piece features a stage setting by Claude Heintz and music composed and performed by John Doing.

In a work titled “Transform 2,” newly appointed assistant professor Peggy Choy examines notions of the mind and brain, and the meaning of transformation. Her inspiration for the piece was research by professor Richard Davidson, director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience on campus.

"We’re fortunate to have so many talented artists and intellects to work with. By sharing our visions, by moving out of our comfort zones, we’ve created new realities and visions … which ultimately encouraged and challenged all of us to grow."

Jin-Wen Yu

Davidson and his team have used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate how the brain can be transformed through meditation. Some of those MRI images have been incorporated into video projection in Choy’s piece. Her other collaborators include professor and composer Stephen Dembski, School of Music; musician Aaron Sherraden, composer and former student of Dembski’s; video artist Rosemary Bodolay, Art Department; and costume design by Maggie Barber, graduate of the School of Human Ecology, in consultation with assistant professor Carolyn Kallenborn, Design Studies, School of Human Ecology.

More than 25 yards of fabric will grace the stage and drape dancer Karen McShane-Hellenbrand in choreographer Marlene Skog’s newest work. Skog’s daring collaboration with textile designer Carolyn Kallenborn, School of Human Ecology, creates an organic force that drives the curiosity and confinement of the dancer against a taunting melody of Maurice Ravel, performed by musician Ina Selvelieva, School of Music.

Choreographer Li Chiao-Ping’s latest dance for three women is a collaboration with visual artist/UW-Madison Art student Anthony Joseph Moore, with music by Bambu and Brian Eno/David Byrne.

Kate Corby’s new work for first-year dance majors is a musical exploration of composer George Rochberg’s “Caprice Variations.” Local violinist and UW-Madison alumna Kangwon Lee Kim will accompany the piece live. The work will include a performance in the UW-Madison Wind Ensemble’s “Collage Concert” in April.

A new work by Chris Walker titled “Left at Right” features performances by six Dance Program majors and poetry from First Wave students. Associate professor Gail Brassard, Department of Theatre and Drama, will design the costumes. Musical collaborators include Manju Camara, master drummer from Guinea, West Africa, and John Doing, UW–Madison graduate and member of Spectrum Trio. Music will be amplified with vocalization and added movement by students in Walker’s African Performance class.

Reserved seating tickets may be purchased in advance through Campus Arts Ticketing Box Office at; by phone at 608-265-ARTS (265-2787); or in person at the Wisconsin Union Theater Box Office, 800 Langdon St. or Vilas Hall Box Office, 821 University Ave. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door.

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