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GroundWorks Dancetheater bringing new dances to Akron

11/21/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Roger Durbin

GroundWorks DanceTheater will feature two new works Nov. 22-23 at the Akron-Summit County Main Library.
Photo: Mark Horning
DOWNTOWN AKRON — GroundWorks DanceTheater will feature two new works — one by GroundWorks Artistic Director David Shimotakahara and another from Israeli guest choreographer Noa Zuk — Nov. 22-23 at 8 p.m. at the Akron-Summit County Main Library, 60 S. Main St. The company also will perform Kate Weare’s 2013 commissioned work “Inamorata.”

One of the best things about GroundWorks (and there are many superb qualities with this dance troupe) is the creation of new works. Shimotakahara said if there is a new piece by a guest choreographer, it was commissioned for his company and not simply set on them. Otherwise, either he or Associate Artistic Director Amy Miller creates new dances for the company.

Shimotakahara’s newest creation, “Emergent,” explores some heady notions the dance artist has been exploring. Shimotakahara said he was reading and researching and stumbled upon the “theory of emergence.” It concerns, he said, “the study of isolated events that can accumulate or combine and recombine” and from all that create a sense of order. It is something that “just happens,” he said. Shimotakahara said part of the process is the decay of the “system” that is created, and that gets explored in his works.

Shimotakahara said it could be something like the Internet, where through use and continuous change it turned itself into a “complex system” that took on its own logic and shape and is ever changing.

“Emergent,” which runs more than 20 minutes in length, is in four sections set to the music of David Lang, an American composer of “World to Come” (from which Shimotakahara uses two sections). It also features jazz pieces from Meredith Monk and some cello music by Hilda Guonadóttir — all of which, like the idea informing his dance, have musical motifs that keep recurring and that, through accumulation, “reassert” themselves and take on significance and shape, Shimotakahara said.

Also on the evening’s agenda is a work called “After Chorus,” a piece by Zuk, who spent two weeks with the company to create her new work. She approaches her work differently from Shimotakahara.

Zuk is an instructor of the Naharin Gaga movement practice. Practice seems to be the correct word, according to Shimotakahara, for the idea is to “sensitize the body to embody different space,” much like one would alter how one moves in a crowded corridor or changes movement after hearing crushingly bad news.

The practice, as Shimotakahara notes, is not a compositional tool for dance. Rather it gets dancers — and their dances — to not always follow the familiar logical next step that they are used to. And that’s what we will see happen in this dance.

Zuk, Shimotakahara said, “knows what she wants — each moment.” But in the work she disrupts the “sense of what comes next,” he said. Part of the novelty of that approach may come from a reliance on vocal prompts, Shimotakahara said. The dancers will at times speak as they move, and some utterances are prompts for physical movement. This one should be incredibly interesting for those who know and appreciate GroundWorks DanceTheater.

The other work that audiences will see is a piece done by choreographer Weare, “Inamorata,” which was premiered in Akron earlier this year.

Weare’s work is set to music as far ranging as medieval chant to classical music and country tunes. The work explores how we learn to get along, basically how we interact and find ways to survive it all. A set piece in the work is a male duet that shows the strength and toughness inherent to a dance like a tango. It is visually stunning.

Tickets cost $10 for students, $20 for general admission and $25 for preferred seating, and are available at groundworksdance.org or by calling 216-751-0088. Tickets also will be available at the door, unless seats are sold out.

 

Roger Durbin is professor emeritus of bibliography at The University of Akron and an avid dance enthusiast. To contact him, email r.durbin@sbcglobal.net.

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