Visionary movements

Choreography can be an intensely personal art form. More than just a combination of postures and movements, choreography is also a reflection of the thoughts, insights and personal resolutions of its creator. It’s a kind of art that, first and foremost, exists in the choreographer’s imagination, and must translated by the dancers into something an audience can not only understand, but enjoy.

Smooth moves: Dancer Ashlee Ramsey is one of many performers involved with Here and Forward. Photo by Steve Clarke

As you might expect, the challenge is significant.

And yet, it’s just this kind of situation that makes modern dance shine. This weekend, eight contemporary dancers from across North Carolina will showcase their work at the BeBe Theatre in Asheville in a group production called Here and Forward. Organized by local dancer and choreographer Myra Scibetta, the event will feature original works by young and emerging choreographers who are all active members of the state’s dance community.

Here and Forward is an opportunity for audiences to learn more about contemporary and modern dance,” Scibetta says, adding that it’s also “an opportunity for dancers and choreographers to showcase their work in a new city and space.”

Scibetta graduated from UNC-Greensboro, where she worked with each of the choreographers featured in Here and Forward. In putting together the show, she says that she wanted to bring in choreographers who “had strong technique, a strong sense of structural composition and an innovative outlook.”

She says the show’s theme was inspired by the phrase “be in the here and now,” and, fittingly, the pieces frequently delve into thematically abstract territory. For instance, Scibetta will present an eight-minute solo work titled “Summoned Along a Diagonal” that deals with the theme of overcoming the past in order to look into the future.

“I let myself improvise on a concept,” she says. “For this piece, I focused on the pull within us and how the past affects our physical steps forward. [The piece is about] learning how to bring all of yourself together in order to move forward.” Like the other choreographers involved with this concert, Scibetta has designed her own costume. She’ll be performing in a cranberry-red dress, which will emphasizes the sensual mood of the piece.

Jennifer McNure, a dancer with the John Gamble Dance Theater of Madison, N.C., will perform in a duet titled “Tethered” with dancer Ashlee Ramsey. Like Scibetta’s work, McNure’s piece will explore an abstract concept through thought-provoking movement.

“‘Tethered’ is about pushing boundaries in order to realize the elusive nature of human bonding and [seeks to] understand what it is that keeps us connected,” McNure explains. To convey this intangible concept with movement, McNure and Ramsey travel in a circle drawn on the stage and appear to be walking on the broad face of a clock. But this highly organized movement soon breaks down, eventually becoming a rigorous sequence of movements more on par with wrestling than traditional dance. McNure says the piece seeks to examine both connection and disconnection.

Working from a similarly conceptual theme, Heather Glasgow Doyle, a teacher at the Dance Project at City Arts of Greensboro, will present a piece titled “Spoken For.” As described by Glasgow Doyle, the work is “a meditation on the murkiness encountered on the road from intention to decision” that explores the ambiguity of choice. Performed by a trio of female dancers—Lauren Drake, Robin Spohr and Lauren Wilson—the intensely physical performance will be accompanied by an original electronic musical score composed by Braxton Sherouse.

Other choreographers involved with Here and Forward include Amy Love Beasley, K. Rain Leander, Kristen Osborne Lucas and Kathyrn Ullom. Despite the elusive subjects explored throughout the concert, Scibetta insists that each piece will speak for itself.

“When viewing modern or contemporary dance, people often try to find the ‘meaning’ of the work,” she says. “In some cases, the choreographer does intend for a meaning or concept to come across to the audience, while others want their work to exist as movement for the sake of the moment. Ultimately, an audience of 500 will have 500 different interpretations of what a piece meant. Each one is valid.”

who: Contemporary dance choreographers showcase their work
what: An evening of provocative dance
where: BeBe Theatre, 20 Commerce St.
when: Friday and Saturday, April 18 and 19. 8 p.m. ($10/$6 students. 254-2621)

About Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt
Aiyanna grew up on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. She was educated at The Cambridge School of Weston, Sarah Lawrence College, and Oxford University. Aiyanna lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she proudly works for Mountain Xpress, the city’s independent local newspaper.

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