Spectra: The story of individual women in motion

Spectra tells the story of individual women in motion. “It’s new work, old work, old-work revisited, but overall it’s about being an artist now, and expressing that through movement,” says Kathy Leiner, a founding member of Moving Women, an Asheville-based contemporary dance company. “It’s about seeing women at different points in their creative experiences.”

Spectra, an upcoming dance concert held at the Magnetic Field from Thursday, Sept. 6 through Saturday, Sept. 8, features a cast of all-local female choreographers and dancers. “But, what makes it truly special is that is features dance artists in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and almost 70,” says Jenni Cockrell, another founding member of Moving Women. “Each dance artist brings her own unique experience, physicality, perspective and style to the production.”

Interestingly, the project came about when Chall Grey, the owner/operator of the Magnetic Field, invited the company to perform at the theater. Though the space is not ideal for dance, Leiner and her company were not deterred. “The space is a little challenging for dance, but [at the Magnetic Field there is] the cafe, the outside area and the theater: we wanted to encompass the entire space,” says Leiner. “There are going to be things happening outside on the veranda, there will be people in the bar, and then it’s going to flow into the theater.”

The idea is simple: That the concert takes place everywhere, in the bar, in the street, on a stage and every space in between. Guest artists include Julie Becton Gillum and Sara Baird, performing Butoh — they will be perched at the bar, in character, with props, wearing fedoras and sipping on their drinks in the pre-show. Susan Collard, the Artistic Director of Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre, will perform a piece of modern dance, and will be using her painting skills to literally paint two dancers, while local dancer and choreographer Lindsey Kelley offers a three-part piece about Giselle and how she “loses it.”

Cockrell sets the stage for the concert as a whole. “When people arrive, Jenni will be performing in the street in this dress that she made — a little homage to Barbie — with Barbie parts all over the dress,” says Leiner with a grin.

Collard will also be performing outside on the veranda. “A part of her artistic expression is painting,” says Leiner, “so I asked her to paint my two UNCA students, Malia Reeder and Sarah Merritt, who are doing a piece that I created on based on Gertrude Stein’s If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso, influenced by Picasso’s ‘The Girl In The Mirror.’” Reeder and Merritt will be performing to a recording of Gertrude Stein reading this poem. “It’s very repetitive and it’s wonderful because it’s her actual voice speaking these words,” continues Leiner.

Eventually, the pre-show (all dances that take place outside and in the bar) will migrate to the theater, where dancers present a series of solos and duets. Here, Cockrell will perform, “Comb,” which she describes as a “more dramatic and intense work [that] explores themes of femininity, surrender, things that are better left unsaid, the truth beyond wordlessness, process and integration of change, bewilderment.”

Leiner will play a ‘60s-era homemaker, a character based on an actual book titled, I Want To Be A Homemaker, which was written for children. The story will be read aloud to the audience by Charlotte Sommers, who is also the stage manager for the show.

Though each piece has a theme and idea propelling it forward, many are abstract and highly contemporary. In fact, this is arguably the most intriguing aspect of contemporary dance: It meaning, its interpretation is individual, and each member of the audience might walk away with their own relationship to a piece. 

Audiences sometimes say, “I don’t know if I got it,” muses Leiner. “Well, do you have to get it?” she asks. “Just experience it. That’s always the most important thing. We want people to experience it, and they get from it what they get from it.”

So come and see for yourself the power of dance, and of women in motion.

Who: Moving Women, an Asheville-based contemporary dance company
What: Spectra, an evening of dance and performance art by Moving Women and guest artists
Where: The Magnetic Field, 372 Depot Street in the River Arts District
When: Thursday, September 6 through Saturday, September 8, at 7:30 p.m. The pre-show begins at 7:00 p.m. $15. Tickets: 257-4003 and online at magneticfield.com. Info: 545-0058 or www.movingwomen.org.


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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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