When Thomas Edison created the lightbulb and changed our society forever, he probably wasn’t thinking about how the invention’s effect on dancers could change the experience of a performance.

Dancelucent 2012

Tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Power Center
From $10

Since the beginning of the school year, dancers from the School of Music, Theatre & Dance have been learning, practicing and rehearsing pieces about light, which will be presented starting tomorrow night. “Dancelucent” is a show composed of four dances, each with a different choreographer.

Choreographer Bill DeYoung’s dance will open the show. His piece is an homage to the age of rock‘n’roll, in which the dancers express the turbulence of the late ’60s and early ’70s through their bodies. He has chosen music from various recordings, including selections from icons such as Led Zeppelin, Jim Morrison and Frank Zappa.

Another piece, by choreographer Robin Wilson, draws upon the different elements of light and how light affects the body. The routine is divided into three sections — “Where’s the Light,” “Walking the Light” and “Celebrating the Light” — and asks the audience to consider light as an essential part of the human spirit.

The dance “Forest through the Trees” is choreographed by MT&D Prof. Peter Sparling, and explores identity as shown through movement signatures. Each dancer has her own sequence of movement representing a type of signature she writes with her body.

“I use those students as Gertrude Stein uses words and language,” Sparling said. “I’m creating different layers of text, movement and music to build a cumulative image of a community of people attempting to define who they are.”

Gertrude Stein’s text, “The Making of Americans,” is read aloud throughout the piece. A scrim is also set up downstage, projecting different images — a painting by George Braque, a friend of Stein’s, appears several times during the dance.

Sparling noted the performance is about the collaboration among the images on the video screen, the music, the text and the dancers themselves.

“I’m looking at what Stein and the cubists were doing in abstraction, and kind of doing an homage to that world and bringing it to the 21st century with digital technology,” he said.

The final work of the show is by guest choreographer Lucinda Childs. The dance is set to the music of the composer Philip Glass. Sparling described this piece as Minimalist and stark, showing an image of lateral movement as dancers flow across the stage, exiting and entering in a series of crossings.

“The reason we called it ‘Dancelucent’ was (due to) the idea of light that runs through the entire program — for my work it’s the light of video projection that is cast on the dancers, for (DeYoung’s) work, I think it’s more the light of feeling, the light that grows dark and then glows like red in a group of young people,” Sparling said. “(Wilson’s work) is very much spiritual light of a community. And then Lucinda Childs’s work is more the light of pure physics, a kind of minimalist palette of very pure abstraction, a conceptual abstraction of light.”

Sparling spoke of his final wishes for the audience — clearly reflecting the show’s uplifting theme of light — for when the show has finished and the lights have come on once again.

“I want them to go away feeling exhilarated, feeling renewed with the potential of humans to create beautiful pictures in space,” Sparling said. “I want them to leave exhilarated and I want them to leave wanting to come back next year.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.