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Preview: Dance 2015 showcases collaboration and imagination

This Valentine’s Day weekend, the University of Oregon Department of Dance will present its annual faculty show, Dance 2015. This show is a special part of the department’s schedule of performances, and this year’s production is especially unique.

The show will take place at 8 p.m. on Feb. 12, 13, and 14 in the Robinson Theatre.

“It’s going to be a dynamic and exciting evening,” said Shannon Mockli, associate professor of dance. “There’s high potential for one’s imagination to be engaged.” Mockli will be performing in the show with other members of the UO faculty, and also choreographed a piece, entitled “Canyons.”

Mockli’s piece, inspired by the landscape of her childhood in Utah, was produced in direct collaboration with Christian Cherry, the dance department’s music director. Mockli described this process as extremely unique and rewarding. “The music really takes one’s imagination to a canyon. It’s really amazing how (Cherry has) achieved that through music — It captures the vastness and the depth.” In this piece, choreography and composition combine to paint a picture of the American southwest.

Collaboration of this kind seems to be a theme of this show. For example, unlike other department productions throughout the year, Dance 2015 is produced with the support of the UO Theatre Arts Department, and will take place in the Robinson Theatre, part of the Miller Theatre Complex on campus. Costume and lighting designers from the theatre department are assigned to each choreographer, a challenging and rewarding process for both parties: choreographers get the chance to see their work fully produced, and the theatre department gets the opportunity to adapt their work to the unique constraints of a movement-based art form.

This show is also the department’s only yearly production to feature faculty performances. Though faculty members work closely with students throughout the year, this level of participation showcases collaboration between teacher and student both onstage and behind the scenes.

Dance 2015 is also unique in its featured guest artist, New York-based choreographer Michelle Boulé. Boulé is the dance department’s Boekelheide Award winner this year, and will be staging an original piece on UO dancers entitled “Light. White”. “I’ve heard some exciting things about their costume designs,” Mockli said. “We’re definitely excited about her residency and her work.”

Mockli said that students attending Dance 2015 are going to “have a theatre experience that perhaps they aren’t used to. It’s contemporary, so some of the works are experimental, they are abstract.” That being said, this production will showcase some of the best dance talent at this University across genre, age and style. The wide scope of new, unusual and collaborative art being created will certainly spark thought and imagination.

“It’s just been a rich process for us choreographers and performers,” Mockli added. “I believe that that kind of enriching process will show through in the performance itself.”
The UO Dance Department will present Dance 2015 on Feb. 12, 13, and 14 in the Robinson Theatre. Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for students and seniors. Visit the event webpage for more information.

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Rachel Benner

Rachel Benner

Rachel is a Theatre writer for the Arts and Culture Desk.