2023 Fall Faculty Dance Concert
Northampton, MA — The Smith College Department of Dance presents the Fall Faculty Dance Concert, featuring the Five College Dance repertory project Dance 1 by Lucinda Childs, the first movement from Dance a collaboration with Philip Glass and Sol LeWitt, and new work by guest artist Sarah Konner and faculty artists Rodger Blum and Duane Lee Holland, Jr. Childs is widely revered as one of the most important figures in modern dance. This is a rare opportunity to see her minimalist dance masterwork live. The concert runs three nights, November 16, 17, 18 at 8:00 PM, in Theatre 14, part of Smith College’s Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts.
In 1979, Childs choreographed one of her most enduring works, Dance with music by Philip Glass. The opening section of this iconic work is restaged on Five College Dance students by Smith College alum Caitlin Scranton ’05. The work is fast, intricate, and always moving. Childs’ trademark minimalism is fully displayed as the dancers move across the stage in a seemingly unending loop. Though set on a cast of only 8 performers, it feels as if there might be 30 dancers in the wings as wave after wave flows across the stage. The steps are quick and fleeting with a deceptively quotidian air. “To the audience, it almost seems possible that we too might accomplish this vocabulary of tossed skips, runs, and turns,” observes Angie Hauser, Professor in Dance at Smith and rehearsal director for the project. “Possibly in the same way one may say “I could do that” while looking at a painting by Jackson Pollock, but the reality of this mathematically complex and lightning-fast choreography is virtuosic. The dancers feel a sense of triumph with every successful pass of the stage.“ Describing Childs’ work in the New York Times, Gia Kourlas writes “Her stark, minimalist approach stitches together straight and circular motifs in space with fleet footwork and military authority. It is at once unfussy and euphoric, somehow like figure skating without the ice.”
Lucinda Childs (choreographer) began her choreographic career in the early 1960s as a member of the seminal Judson Dance Theater. She formed her own company in 1973 and three years later was featured in the landmark avant-garde opera Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass and Robert Wilson, for which she won an Obie Award. In 1977, she and Wilson co-directed and performed in I Was Sitting on My Patio This Guy Appeared I Thought I Was Hallucinating, which they revived for the Festival d’Automne in Paris in 2021, where they also created an evening-length work titled Bach 6 Solo with the violinist Jennifer Koh.
Childs holds the rank of Commandeur in France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2017 she received the Golden Lion award from the Venice Biennale and the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival award for lifetime achievement. She has been inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, New York, and received an honorary doctorate from the Université Côte d’Azur in 2021.
Caitlin Scranton (LCD Company stager) joined the Lucinda Childs Dance Company in 2009, and performs solo roles in the current world tours of Ms. Childs’ iconic works Dance and Einstein on the Beach. She also performs numerous works of choreographer Christopher Williams, including his recent collaboration with opera director Peter Sellars: Henry Purcell’s final opera The Indian Queen. In New York she’s worked with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Mark Dendy Dance Theater, Cornfield Dance, Ramon Oller and the Peridance Ensemble. Caitlin trained at Idyllwild Arts Academy and The Ailey School, and received her B.A. in American history from Smith College.
Oh Ordinary is a new contemporary dance by guest artist and Smith alum Sarah Konner built in collaboration with the dancers—bending time and space, patience, and the fullness of being together in a one and only now, in this one and only room. Attention is the choreography. The work moves between spaciousness—allowing the audience to see detail—and the intensity of individual choices in action. The soundscore moves between eras, tempos, and associations. “Empty space is never empty, it’s packed with people and memories, wishes, possibilities, and decisions.” Says Konner, “It is the magic of the ordinary becoming the imaginary.” Konner’s work brings together patience, humor, partnering, improvisation, and the study of how our attention shapes aesthetic. She sees dance-making as a way to comment upon the human condition, the personal as political, body as part of earth, and movement as intelligence.
Sad to know of the wind tonight, a contemporary ballet for 11 dancers, is set to the haunting work of British musician Jamie McDermott under the guise of The Irrepressibles. Throughout the work, dancers connect, separate, and rediscover community. Choreographer and Professor of Dance Rodger Blum finds that nonliteral movement, and the relationships it engenders, is uniquely suited to reflect the time we live in with its ever-present anxiety, worry, doubt, hope, energy, and unending beauty. Blum’s work tends towards big, energized, athletic, and theatrical dances that draw from the ballet vocabulary and aesthetic, and also plays with and expands those tenets.
Duane Lee Holland, Jr, acclaimed Hip Hop artist and UMASS Assistant Professor of Dance, presents Nourishment, a piece for 8 performers that features dance as a cathartic conduit to healing, empowerment, and cultural diplomacy. Holland is inspired by the poem I Dance by Victor Y See Yuen from his album Raise Your Hand for Love. “…Crossing boundaries, curing inhibitions, undeniable passion, unabridged free expressions. The fulfillment I receive is like an eagle soaring high in the sky. I know for eternity that my dance will never die, so… I dance.” Duane Lee Holland, a multi-hyphenate artist with a long career as a professional dancer, has been instrumental in bringing Hip Hop dance, history, and culture to college dance programs.
The Fall Faculty Dance Concert will be held in Theatre 14, Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, 122 Green Street in Northampton. Tickets are reserved seating, $5 for students and 65+, and $10 for adults. Tickets can be purchased online at https://smitharts.booktix.com or by emailing BoxOffice@smith.edu.