CULTURE KLASH: Survive, Thrive and Ponder

By on April 25, 2017

Events that question humanity, history and current global affairs.

Among the offerings this week: a performance by Dancers’ Workshop and talks by artist Thomas Macker and Bert Romberg (depicted here as a young boy with his sister), who escaped Germany as a child just before war broke out in 1939.

Movement is life

In one of its signature programs of the year, Dancers’ Workshop presents New Dances/New Choreographers Friday and Saturday in Studio 1. This all student-run production showcases the talents of the Junior Repertory Company under the direction of Cady Cox.

This year’s theme is “Verve.”

“The choreographers created dances that speak to the infinite number of movement patterns and the endless creativity and vivacity of movement itself,” Cox said.

The young choreographers produced the entire production, including casting, costuming, music editing, lighting, and marketing. The centerpiece is, of course, the choreography itself, all done by students based on their work in choreography class.

“They have challenged themselves physically, pushing the architecture of their own bodies to the extremes,” Cox said.

In addition to the creative physicality of the dances, the choreographers also tackle important social issues. A piece choreographed by student Caroline Kucera is set to spoken word recordings of the latest news headlines. Cox said the resulting chaotic and passionate solo by Annie Estes is very real, current and intense.

Another piece, choreographed by guest artist Julia Eichten, engages the entire company in exploring the power and strength young women intrinsically possess.

Cox recommends audiences absorb the movement itself: “Everyone’s interpretation of each dance can be different, we can let our imaginations take us wherever the movement leads.”

New Dances/New Choreographers “Verve” fundraising event, 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 28 in Dancers’ Workshop Studio 2; 7 p.m. performance, Dancers’ Workshop Studio 1, $50.

New Dances/New Choreographers “Verve” performances 4 and 6 p.m. Saturday, April 29 in Dancers’ Workshop Studio 1, $10 students, $25 adults.

Probing propaganda

In his multimedia exhibit, “Holdout,” on view at the Center for the Arts, local artist Thomas Macker has created a body of work that brings camouflage from the background to the foreground of consciousness. Using new media materials and techniques, his work invites viewers to ponder the visual and psychological impact of warfare.

Macker speaks noon on Thursday at the Center Theater Gallery. He will discuss his practice as a research-based, or conceptual artist. Macker spent two years researching camouflage, bygone war propaganda and the identity of the “holdout” figure in modern warfare.

“With conceptual art, the concept is the point of it,” Macker told PJH. “Not necessarily the rendering. I’m trying to make the rendering important but it’s not like I’m sticking to a specific material or style in order to cohesively connect the work. The materials serve the ideas.”

In part, the exhibit also draws upon the history of wartime propaganda—leaflets used during World War II designed to disturb the enemy psychologically. Macker created high tech paintings that reveal a secret message when touched, using thermal paint on a copper plate that turns into a kind of liquid in response to body heat. What looks like a black surface, for instance, becomes an image of a saluting soldier with the words “I’m hurting inside.”

Macker said he doesn’t seek to polarize on political lines, but instead to explore the “vernacular” of propaganda. “The work has a voice. The topics are not as plain as documentation,” he said. As Macker probes and unravels various themes, he says he is trying to “discursively connect the dots.”

Artist talk by Thomas Macker, noon Thursday, April 27 at the Center for the Arts Theater Gallery, free.

Life after war

Off-Square Theatre presents Water by the Spoonful, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play that follows Elliot, a Puerto Rican Iraq veteran living in Philadelphia as he embarks on a journey to put his life back together after his tour of duty.

According to Off Square artistic director Natalia Macker, the racially diverse play presents a diversity of experiences. “Half of the play takes place in the present tense, and half in an online chat room,” Macker said. “It resonates with people in contemporary life, particularly younger audiences.”

The play delves into themes of identity and family, as well as the concept of redemption. “Where can we find redemption?” Macker asked. “Who needs it, and who gives it?”

The middle play in a trilogy of plays about Elliot, Water by the Spoonful presents challenges for set design in order to create a virtual world. Macker said that an open rehearsal last week generated discussion about the role of technology in our lives—our online identities versus our real identities.

Water by the Spoonful at 7 p.m. April 27 to 29 and May 4 to 6 in the Black Box Theater at the Center for the Arts. Tickets Thursday night are $15, all other nights are $25.

Why remembering is important

The Jackson Hole Jewish Community presents Bert Romberg, a part-time Jackson resident who will speak about his experiences of the Kindertransport.

“His story is one of the relatively few happy endings in that the Kindertransport took just 10,000 children out of Germany right before the outbreak of war in 1939,” noted JHJC’s Mary Grossman.

Romberg’s presentation, The Kindertransport: Memories of, and reflections on, a refugee’s escape from tyranny,” will also touch on what is happening in the world today and the parallels that can be drawn.

Bert Romberg speaks at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 29 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, free. PJH

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About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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