CULTURE MATTERS: Dancing outside the box
JACKSON, WYO – Have you ever thought of a cardboard box and how you would describe it?
Andrea Miller did, and the more she thought about the box, the more interesting it became. Its weight is unknown until it’s lifted, the contents inside a mystery. It can crumble and collapse.
The idea of a box became the inspiration for “Fold Here,” a dance piece choreographed by Miller, artistic director of Gallim, a New York-based modern dance company that will perform in Jackson this weekend.
Miller guided the company, already known for its unique athletic and emotional approach to dance, in an experimental direction with the creation of “Fold Here.”
“It’s about trying to define something,” Miller said. “We’re saying, ‘Ok here is a box, is there anything I am going to find out about life from this box?’”
Last summer, Dancers’ Workshop, in a first for the organization, co-commissioned the piece by Gallim. Dancers’ Workshop provided space in Jackson for Gallim to develop the piece and gave the community a unique look at the creative process of a professional company by allowing people to observe rehearsals.
The process comes full circle with the company’s return this month, which will include master classes, open rehearsals and performances of “Fold Here.”
This piece is multi-faceted with video, compelling lighting and set design and even some spoken word, said Babs Case, Dancers’ Workshop artistic director.
“Plus, there is the amazing, physical and creative dance,” she said. “I just think they are one of the most interesting dance companies working these days.”
Case, who saw the piece premiere, said there are recognizable elements from the company’s time in Jackson, but there were also surprises, including a dance rehearsed in Jackson as a group number that had been changed to a solo.
That’s what makes the relationship between Dancers’ Workshop and Gallim special — it offered a chance for people to understand the evolving creative process.
“That’s what dance is,” Case said. “It’s not like a painting that gets finished and hung on the wall.”
Meleta Buckstaff, Dancers’ Workshop administrative assistant, also saw the premiere.
“There’s definitely a lot going on,” she said. “It’s beautiful and there are sections that are breathtaking.”
“Fold Here” is comprised of three sections. Each has its own narrative, but the three are linked.
Miller thinks of the first section as a “big bang” that begins with chaos and individual pieces colliding, but eventually becoming more harmonious and defined.
“It’s a very abstract section where the dancers are spilling into space,” Miller said. “The only thing that is going to stop them from running is the wall of the theater.”
When one soloist hits a wall, he becomes like Adam from the story of Adam and Eve. It becomes about defining who he is, where he is and why he exists, Miller said.
The next section, which was mostly developed while Gallim was in residency in Jackson, follows a couple moving into an apartment and captures the hopes and possibilities of starting a new life together.
The last section suggests there are millions of possibilities in life and no equation is going to ensure you get it right and no formula is going to lead to you understanding life’s mysteries, like what really is a box?
“I might be able to look at a box, but do I really know what is inside?” Miller said. “That’s our world. The world we live in is a place of mystery and magic.”
Fold Here, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Center for the Arts, $45 orchestra, $35 balcony, $20 student. dwjh.org.
Residency Activities with Gallim Dance
Open Rehearsal Thursday, February 6
5 – 6 p.m., DW Studio 1
Open Technical Rehearsal Friday, February 7
Noon -1 p.m., Center Theater
(Open to the public)
Thursday, February 6
6 -7 p.m., $16 Drop-in or 1 punch on DW class card
Saturday, February 8
10 -11 a.m., $16 Drop-in or 1 punch on DW class card