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GroundWorks DanceTheater bringing new works to Akron

3/14/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

GroundWorks DanceTheater will perform March 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Akron-Summit County Main Library.
Photo: Dale Dong
DOWNTOWN AKRON — GroundWorks DanceTheater will feature the Akron premieres of two new works March 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Akron-Summit County Main Library, 60 S. High St.

The company, led by Artistic Director David Shimotakahara, will perform “Inamorata,” a newly commissioned work by guest choreographer Kate Weare, and “LUNA” by Shimotakahara. The program also will include “Brubeck,” Shimotakahara’s tribute to American jazz icon Dave Brubeck.

In a recent interview, Shimotakahara talked animatedly about the two new works. The Weare piece, “Inamorata,” is a seven-section work — each with different music ranging from medieval choral and instrumental compositions to contemporary classical, country and postclassical creations by such notable figures as Pablo Casals.

In describing the work, Shimotakahara, who appears as one of the dancers near the end of the work, said it is overall about relationships. But that doesn’t quite get at all the nuances that a choreographer like Weare can conjure in her rich imagination, he said.

“[The] question behind the piece,” Shimotakahara said, is “what is my place?” As example, his character “looks back on experience,” knowing that “he is in another place” (age, emotionally, etc.) “than the others,” he said. Another character in the work is “trying to figure where she belongs” and is “maybe wondering how to get to where” his character is, Shimotakahara said.

With much discussion about costumes, Shimotakahara said they decided on costumes that reflect the idea of belonging to a sect — in order to give the idea of community and how one adapts and alters to become part of it while maintaining individual aspirations.

Shimotakahara said the work is totally “accessible” in viewing. He said you don’t have to work at figuring it out. He said Weare has a “very musical” approach to her work, creating a “sort of seductive quality” but with “a dark kicker.” There’s directness in her approach to dance, he said, beginning with how dancers relate to one another on stage.

Shimotakahara met Weare at the North Carolina School for Arts and was taken by her creativity, he said.

Shimotakahara’s “LUNA” is also on the bill. This new 16-minute work swirls around the ideas of the interplay between “giving and taking” and “lost and found,” with a kind of ironic approach where sometimes it is in losing something that you find something more meaningful in life (about yourself or the whole situation).

To get at the fluidity of contrasting ideas, or “polarities,” as the choreographer puts it, Shimotakahara eschews usual dance presentation whereby the dancers take and make exits and entrances, where each time these things happen there is a new dynamic or “section” or “complete chapter” of the overall work.

In this case, the dancers perform in a “circle of light,” which underlines the emotional drift of the work as well as its title. Shimotakahara said when dancers enter and leave the circle, they seem to do so “at random” and not dramatically or structurally as we usually think of it.

The music for this piece was composed and designed by Peter Swendsen, who has created works for GroundWorks before. Shimotakahara said Swendsen created “a soundscape” and the “dancers are [simply] in it.” There is no real meter to the work; dancers rely, he said, on “body timing” or the notion that you rehearse and simply “know how long it takes to do whatever you are doing” in the dance.

Tickets are $25 for preferred seating, $20 for general admission and $10 for students and are available at www.groundworksdance.org or 216-751-0088.


Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron and board director of the Dance Critics Association. To contact him, email r.durbin@sbcglobal.net.

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