Making Spaces

IU Contemporary Dance takes to the stage with their Winter Dance Concert: Making Spaces. For the first time ever, Contemporary Dance will partner with Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department and the African American Dance Company. Making Spaces highlights collaboration among all three of Indiana University’s elite dance programs featuring new and established works exploring community, identity, diversity, and empathy.

Making Spaces will feature new choreography by IU Contemporary Dance faculty Elizabeth Shea, Selene Carter, Stephanie Nugent, and Stafford Berry, as well as esteemed guest artists. Featured guest choreography includes Rennie Harris’ Home, inspired by both the sense of community and isolation experienced by people living with or affected by HIV, and Twyla Tharp’s Deuce Coupe, a whirlwind crossover ballet, blending both modern dance and traditional ballet techniques.

Deuce Coupe, choreographed by Twyla Tharp, was a groundbreaking ballet representing both the first major commission for Tharp (by the Joffrey Ballet in 1973) and the first crossover ballet. This piece, performed to the iconic music of The Beach Boys, is a collaboration between the Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department and IU Contemporary Dance. A whirlwind of energy is balanced by a solo ballerina displaying her technical skill calmly throughout the work.

Home, choreographed by Rennie Harris for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is inspired by the stories of people living with or affected by HIV. Drawing upon poems and images submitted in 2011 to the Fight HIV Your Way campaign, an initiative of Bristol-Myers Squibb, Harris created a compelling work that conveys both the chilling isolation and uplifting sense of community many experience. A pulsing gospel/house music score propels the dancers through intricate footwork and rapidly evolving patterns.

Last Good Thing, choreographed by Elizabeth Shea, is part of a suite of dances titled The Rise of Otherness. Last Good Thing asks how can we, as a culture, implement and encourage a sense of empathy and “sameness.” Through unison and partnered movement that is grounded and spacious, a world of ease emerges. This work is supported in part by an Individual Research Award and Collaborative Fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Studies, a Research Travel Grant from the College Arts and Humanities Institute, and a Themester Co-Curricular Programming Award.

Nachthexen, choreographed by Elizabeth Shea, as well as the dancers, is inspired by a World War II German nickname for the female military aviators of the 588 Night Bomber Regiment of the Soviet Air Forces. Nachthexen (or “Night Witches”) serves as a metaphor for women throughout history, quietly doing the work of the world, often unseen, and suffering gender-related discrimination and even abuse as a course of daily living. Nachthexen was created in part from personal stories and experiences of the all-female cast.

Diva Redux, choreographed by Selene Carter, is inspired by the 1981 film Diva. Based on the events, characters, and style of the iconic film, dancers responded to elements of the film, and brought their own favorite films in to the creative process. Dancers were asked to create phrases based on their personal dance styles and backgrounds. The queer, underground dance form “vogueing” and the practice of color guard both found a place within the piece.

Good Game, Yo, choreographed by Stafford C. Berry, Jr., was selected to showcase at the American Dance Guild (ADG) annual dance festival 2018, “Visions – Then and Now” in honor of Modern Dance luminaries, Jane Comfort and Eleo Pomare on October 28th, at the Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theatre.

Wrecking Orlando / Gender is a Concept, choreographed by Stephanie Nugent in collaboration with the cast of the 2009/10 Undone: Androgyne, Gender, and Humanism, explores issues and experiences related to gender identity and gender roles. Employing choreographer Susan Rethorst’s process of “wrecking” a dance, Nugent encouraged dancers to create mini “wreckings” of original material, and invited an original Undone cast member, Toussaint Jeanlouis, to assume directorship of the dance for one rehearsal.

Lighting and costume designs are provided by the IU Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance Faculty and MFA students.