Tag Archives: DanceWorks

Quantum Physics, Environmentalism and the Me Too Movement: Cleveland Public Theatre’s Annual DanceWorks Series Continues it Daring Dance Ways


madcap’s Tyler Ring and Annie Morgan. Photo by Dominic Iudiciani.

By Steve Sucato

Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT)’s annual DanceWorks series returns for its 21st season, May 16 – June 15 with five weekends of thought-provoking dance performances by eight area dance companies at CPT’s historic Gordon Square Theatre.

DanceWorks 2019 will feature a diverse lineup of dance works and styles from first-time participants and series veterans including Travesty Dance Group co-founder/artistic director Kim Karpanty in her first solo show for the series, MONSOON.

The new 35-minute multidisciplinary and multimedia improvisational solo, says Karpanty, was inspired by recent experiences she has had as the victim of bullying, gender bias and ageism. Created in Barcelona in collaboration with Argentinian media artist Tristán Pérez-Martín and Swedish performance artist Benedikte Esperi, the work parallels the catastrophic strength and power of a monsoon to internal storms in our own lives.

Danced to soundscape of consisting silence, spoken word, sound effects and contemporary classical and classic pop music, Karpanty sees the work as a metaphor for the cycle of human storm, recovery and renewal.

“While the monsoon brings devastation, in some countries it also brings all of the rain to grow all of the food the rest of the year,” says Karpanty.

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Kim Karpanty in “MONSOON”. Photo courtesy of Kim Karpanty.

She says she arranged her solo along the arc of a monsoon beginning with calm and progressing through rising heat into microbursts of storm and destruction and ending with recovery and renewal.

Karpanty describes herself as a mid-career dance artist redefining who can dance and for how long. A professor of dance at Kent State University, Karpanty says she has in recent year been transitioning her performing career toward that of a solo artist. MONSOON represents a new direction in that transition.

In the past several years Karpanty has attended dance workshops in Spain, France and Sweden where she has embraced a different way of working that she describes as “a horizontal experimental and improvisational process that yields control of the finished product.” For her, adopting this new movement identity in MONSOON, she says, has been a challenge and a source of trepidation.

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(Archive Photo) Kim Karpanty. Photo by Larry Coleman.

“It’s a risk to go up [with the show] in this format, especially performing for Cleveland audiences that have watched me and my company perform the past 22-years,” says Karpanty. “It’s a live theater piece that will change for each audience who sees it.”

Karpanty performs MONSOON in Week 4 on a double-bill with Movements in Motion.

Here is a brief rundown of DanceWorks 2019’s other offerings:

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Verb Ballets. Photo by Bill Naiman.

May 16 – 18, 2019

DanceWorks series regulars Verb Ballets return with Fresh Inventions, a program featuring new choreographic works by Verb’s dancers and company associate director Richard Dickinson. Included are new company dancer Daniel Cho’s first work for the company, “three lullabies for you and I”.  A contemporary dance work for a cast of eight, Cho says, “This piece was founded on the notion of relationships. I’ve recently been interested in how relationships with oneself, with another person and with a group can be represented through highly physicalized movement.”

Kate Webb’s new 11-minute contemporary ballet for six dancers, “UnHEaRd” takes its inspiration from the Me Too movement and the work that still needs to be done in achieving equality for all. Webb’s piece focuses specifically on women’s equality. She says: “The sad reality is that a woman’s voice is still second to a man’s. Our culture does not consider a female to be as viable as her male counterpart—if she is subservient, she is not heard, yet the minute she speaks up she is either ridiculed for her perspective and not taken seriously or considered to be overly aggressive and unsavory.” With “UnHEaRd”, Webb seeks to shine a spotlight on those lingering concerns.

“The Leaving Song” is the latest work by Michael Escovedo for Verb. The new piece for eight dancers is set to music by American singer-songwriter Chris Garneau and “is about how the psyche can break when faced with tragedy and the decisions made afterwards,” says Escovedo.

Rounding out Fresh Inventions are Dickinson’s new ballet, “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” and Antonio Morillo’s “Mortal Empathy Variations,” a new 4-minute duet danced to George Gershwin’s “Preludes for Piano, No. 2 Andante con moto e poco rubato” that Morillo says explores “a young couple meeting in trying times.”

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Inlet Dance Theatre. Photo by Suzanne Sherbundy.

May 23-25, 2019

Inlet’s program From the heART is a series of non-narrative explorations, prototypes, and repertory inspired by works of art from other mediums. Included in the program are reprises of Inlet works “B’roke” (2004), “And Still I Rise” (2018), “Semiotic Variations” (2000), “Ascension” (2006), “Offaxis” (2008) and “impaired” (2004).  The program will also feature premiere works “Becoming” and “Sketches Before a Storm: Ariel and Caliban, pre-colonization (a prototype)” choreographed by company artistic director Bill Wade in collaboration with Inlet’s dancers.

Set to music from the soundtrack of the 2016 film Arrival by Jóhann Jóhannsson, the sculptural work for a male trio costumed in slightly metallic red stretch fabric, takes its inspiration from the art and artistic philosophies of American sculptor Frederick Hart. Says Wade: “This piece is a way to investigate the idea that every human being is God’s artwork and the thought that perhaps creation (Genesis) is still ongoing.”

The 5-minute “Sketches Before a Storm: Ariel and Caliban, pre-colonization (a prototype)” is a male/female duet danced to excerpts from Cleveland composer Ty Emerson’s “Caliban Ascendant”. Says Wade it ponders an alternative version of the characters in Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.

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(Top) MorrisonDance. Photo by Bob Perkoski. (Bottom) madcap. Photo by Dominic Iudiciani.

May 30- June 1, 2019

MorrisonDance returns to DanceWorks with the premiere of its latest science-inspired dance work aptly titled Dance meets Science: Quantum Entanglement. The 45-minute in work six sections on topics including superfluidity, quantum tunneling and Erwin Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment (Schrödinger’s cat) is choreographed and directed by Sarah Morrison with creative contributions from the company. Danced to music by London-based experimental band The Mostar Diving Club, Ludovico Einaudi and others, the work for six dancers reflects on “the profound nature of the quantum theory and universal connectivity,” says Morrison.

New to the DanceWorks series are GroundWorks DanceTheater dancers Tyler Ring and Annie Morgan a.k.a. madcap in their new 20-minute work Transcription Beta. Choreographed and performed by the duo along with fellow GroundWork’s dancer Robert Rubama, Transcription Beta delves into our ubiquitous use of voicemails that Ring says “act as a semi-permanent moment in time when two people missed one another.” The contemporary dance work also “hopes to humanize distant relationships that might only exist superficially, and at the same time, offer a lighthearted look into relationships both big and small.”

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(Top) Kim Karpanty of Travesty Dance Group. Photo courtesy of Kim Karpanty. (Bottom) Movements in Motion. Photo by William G. Barnard.

June 6-8, 2019

Joining the aforementioned Travesty Dance Group’s Kim Karpanty’s solo work MONSOON, Movements in Motion will make their DanceWorks debut in RASA, a 45-minute production blending Indian classical (Manipuri and Kathak) dance techniques, Indian martial arts and contemporary dance. First performed in 2008 in Krakow, Poland, the work for three dancers, an actor and a singer, “conceptualizes how to control and balance emotions in order to create a harmony of peace and love.”

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(Top) Shri Kalaa Mandir. Photo by Srini Ranganathan. (Bottom) Terre Dance Collective’s Robert Rubama. Photo courtesy of Robert Rubama.

June 13-15, 2019

Founded in 1993 by Sujatha Srinivasan, Shri Kalaa Mandir (Center for Indian Performing Arts) make their DanceWorks debut in Srinivasan’s Vivarta – Transformations. The new hour-long piece for ten dancers is performed in the Bharathanatyam classical Indian dance form to a selection of Carnatic music (South Indian classical music) composed primarily by the Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan and Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi. Says Srinivasan: “It is an artistic expression of the state of our environment today…telling a story of beneficence, abuse, redemption and triumph.”

Also making their DanceWorks debut is Terre Dance Collective in Blood Orange. The newish 25-minute piece choreographed by Robert Rubama in collaboration with the dancers is danced to a mix of ambient electronic and classical music. It will be performed by dancers Chelsi Knight, Emily Liptow, Shannon Metelko and Oberlin College grad Akane Little. Says Rubama: “The piece, in a nutshell, is a nonlinear exploration of dependency, vulnerability, connection and the breaking down of barriers we place in our own way.”

Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks 2019 runs 7:30 p.m., every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 16 – June 15 at CPT’s Gordon Square Theatre, 6415 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland. Tickets are $15-25. Students/Seniors receive $5 off on Friday and Saturday nights. All Thursdays are $15.  For feeless tickets and more information visit cptonline.org or call the CPT Box Office at (216) 631-2727 ext. 501. Group discounts are available.

Steve Sucato is a former dancer turned arts writer/critic. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Dance Critics Association and Associate Editor of ExploreDance.com.


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Verb Ballets opens Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks 2018 with Tech-centric ‘Fresh Inventions’ 


Verb Ballets dancers rehearsing Kate Webb’s “envisage”. Photo by Jennifer Garlando.

By Jennifer Garlando

Cleveland Public Theatre presents Verb Ballets in, Fresh Inventions, at DanceWorks 2018 May 17-19, 2018 with vibrant performances that highlight bold artistry through the dancer’s creative lens. Fresh Inventions is built on the talent of company members and provides the opportunity to tap into a new realm of artistic development by experiencing the choreographic side of creation. Verb Ballets presents premieres of new works by Verb Ballets’ Associate Director, Richard Dickinson, MFA, company dancers Kate Webb, Michael Escovedo, Lieneke  Matte and trainee, Jocelyn Magons.

The works in Fresh Inventions are a result of explorations in the process  of   integrating new technology, music and virtual reality into the choreographic effort.  These premieres are the result of a choreographic initiative supported by an Ohio Arts Council Arts Next grant. Verb Ballets led field trips to NASA, New Territory Virtual Reality Arcade and Case Western Reserve University to investigate new technology applications with dance. The National Center of Choreography Akron led a community panel on innovation and facilitated audience feedback to works in progress. Fresh Inventions reflects Verb Ballets’ vision to be recognized as a catalyst to promote learning and encourage dialogue about dance as an art-form.

Verb Ballets is honored to return to Cleveland Public Theatre’s DanceWorks for its 18th year. Verb Ballets will perform May 17-19, 2018 in the Gordon Square Theatre. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Single tickets on Fridays and Saturdays are $30 for general admission and $12 for all tickets on Thursdays. Purchase seats by calling 216-631-2727 ext. 501, online at www.cptonline.org or buy in person at the Cleveland Public Theatre box office, located at 6415 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44102. For more information on the DanceWorks 2018 series and to purchase tickets, visit www.cptonline.org.

Choreographers/Program Highlights



Choreographer, Richard Dickinson, MFA explores universal connections in his newest work “Beyond Graces” inspired by the famous painting by Sandro Botticelli.

Tell us a bit about your piece? 
Like most choreographers, I like to leave the interpretation up to the individual audience member.  I had many ideas roaming around in my head as I created the work, #1: a work using the Verb Ballets Trainees , #2: a work interpreting the music,#3:  a work relating to a famous painting (Botticelli’s “Three Graces”). Then I added the ball which took the work to another level: is it an energy source, is it the sun, are the goddesses creating the universe represented by the ball? The ball could represent money, greed, family tensions, the earth (making it a piece about global catastrophes) almost anything depending upon who you are and where your thinking is on the particular day you watch the dance.

As a long time established dancer how did you transition in the role of choreographer? 
Choreography is hard for me, it is like turning your insides/out and saying to everyone, THIS IS ME!  I am a private person, and exposing myself by choreographing is a way of expressing who and what I am.

What’s your approach to creating work – do you have it all worked out before going in the studio? 
Yes and No:  I have it worked out like a storyboard for a movie, the general idea of how the work should flow is there, and most of the individual steps are created beforehand, but as the work progresses and I see how the dancers react to the piece, I change things to make it “read” better for me, and also to make it more organic for the dancers.

How has technology been an inspiration and accomplice in the development of this work? 
Technology came as an after. How can I make technology work? It has developed from using a drone (which a choreographer consultant said not to use); to using a video. There was no ball at the beginning and now there is. I try not to place myself into a pigeon hole and say that’s the end. Things can grow and develop as they emerge into a solid work.

Do you feel like a ballet choreographer?  Or a choreographer? 
I choreograph.

How does your work connect to the larger world? 
As Balanchine said, “The work isn’t a success until the audience says it is.” So I’ll wait and see. What is a larger world?  Is there a larger world? I am my own mandala, which is the center of my world and we go out from there. Metaphysical thinking, I see your mandala is part of my mandala.

Richard Dickinson, MFA Verb Ballets’ Associate Director 
A former dancer with Ohio Ballet in Akron, OH, Dickinson’s association with that company began in 1988. He later became ballet master and director of company touring. Richard has served as Artistic Associate for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. He currently is Associate Director for Verb Ballets. He was most recently the Artistic Director of Ballet Western Reserve, in Youngstown, OH and the Artistic Director of Great Lakes Festival Ballet (Warren, OH). Dickinson has also directed Boston Ballet II and was a soloist with Boston Ballet for eight years. At age fifteen, he joined the Pasadena Dance Theatre and was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Emerging Choreographer Award for a work premiered by the same company. He performed in the PBS television production of “Frankie and Johnny” with the Chicago Ballet and danced principal roles in Asian, European and American tours with Rudolf Nureyev and the Boston Ballet. His other credits include principal and soloist roles with Ohio Ballet, Boston Ballet, Honolulu City Ballet, various regional companies and Chamber Dance Theatre in Milwaukee, where he was also Artistic Director. Dickinson has adjudicated four Regional Dance America festivals held throughout the United States. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree in Contemporary Dance from Case Western Reserve University in 2005.
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Choreographer, Michael Escovedo explores the light and delicate energy of birds without compromising their strength in his new work “Aves”.

How do you use your dancers, and what do they contribute to your choreography?
I’m fortunate enough to get to choreograph on dancers that I work with every day. So every piece I make is usually created around what I already know my dancers can offer me. I picked these four particular dancers Kelly Korfage, Lieneke Matte, Antonio Morillo, and Nathaniel Santiago because they each show a light and delicate energy, without compromising their strength. And with a piece all about birds, that was an important quality to have.

Can you take apart a piece of the music and explain how that was countered to your choreography?
Actually every piece of music in the piece can be broken down to a different meaning. I wanted to show a similarity between human and animal emotions. Each song has a different situation, or a different story, that portrays an emotion that any human can relate too. For example, the first variation, done by Kelly Korfage, is supposed to represent a baby bird jumping from the nest for the first time. I played on the already clumsy and displaced nature of the song to show a weak, uncoordinated bird building up the bravery to make a scary jump. Each song has a different tone, and therefore has a different emotional situation attached.

You designed your won projections. Do you have a background in the visual arts also? How did you go about creating those?
I have absolutely no background in visual arts. In fact, I was a straight A student, except for art! For my projections I wanted to keep things minimal, so as to compliment the dancers and not overshadow them. I went on to Microsoft paint and played with the already made shapes to make some geometric and visually impactful images.

What influences your own inspiration?
I am a very internal person, and tend to spend a lot of time stuck in my own head. Because of this it has always been difficult for me to communicate emotions, ideas, and even just regular conversation. What inspires me the most about choreographing is that, through body language, I am able to say these things that I’ve had bottled up for my whole life! It’s almost like finally learning how to speak English after living in an English speaking country for two decades. Now that I can communicate through choreographing anything and everything inspires me! I have hundreds of playlists on my phone all dedicated to different ideas for future pieces. My main inspiration probably comes from emotional health, and different mental phenomenons. They have always been an interest of mine and there are so many different ways the mind can work.

What is something you learned from the field trips involved with the choreographic research project?
I learned that technology really is the future of the dance world. In an ever evolving technological world, the theater process is becoming outdated. I was able to learn all different ways to take dance from the stage, to peoples living rooms.

Whats my biggest dance wish?
In a perfect world I would be the new Head Master in Chief  of New York City Ballet. But in the real world I would love to be a resident choreographer or a ballet master/rehearsal director of a ballet company. As long as I get to continue to choreograph I will be happy!

Michael Escovedo, Company Dancer  
Michael Escovedo was born and raised in the small town of Broomfield, Colorado and started competitive gymnastics when he was 5. After three years of strict training and competitive successes within the USAG gymnastics program Michael decided to start ballet in order to improve his gymnastics routines. It took one class for Michael to decide to quit gymnastics and attend ballet class full time at Ballet Nouveau Colorado (BNC). At the age of 15, after seven years of training and performing at BNC, Michael moved to New York City to train with The School of American Ballet. Michael has also choreographed two company works for Verb Ballets. After his graduation in 2014, Michael joined Verb Ballets and has been featured in works such as “Tarantella” and “Ne Me Quitte Pas”.


Choreographer, Lieneke Matte explores her love of nature and the impact of actions on the environment through the music of In2ative for her new work, “Deforestation”.

Tell us a bit about you piece is there a story line?
My piece is quite simply entitled Deforestation. I have always had a love for nature and have admired environmental activists. Today’s society is plagued by political issues and is largely focused on problems that humans encounter; I wanted to bring attention to our environment and it’s destruction. Our actions impact our surroundings and we may not see the effects now but they are there nevertheless.

Which composer will you be working with and how is it all going? 
I am using the music of a Cleveland based flute and cello duo named In2ative. I had started my piece before I encountered their music. However, after hearing one of their works live in our studio I decided to use that instead.  Remounting some of the choreography with the new music was a bit challenging in terms of timing and recounting phrases, but I am so happy I got to collaborate with them. They were terrific to work with, accommodating my desire for certain tempos and extending the piece a bit.

Can you take apart a piece of the music and explain how that was countered in your choreography? 
I counted most of the choreography in 8’s, which happens in a lot of dance. It’s good to catch people off guard and have layers of movement so sometimes I try to create phrases without the music.

When did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was 6 years old. My parents put me in a ballet class and I slowly began taking more and more lessons. Luckily I was in the right place at the right time and got to train at some amazing dance schools.

As a choreographer and as a dancer, who are your influences?  Whose work do you really like? 
I love a wide variety of choreographers and the works of multiple dance companies. A few works that have been memorable for me include pieces by Raphael Bonachela for Sydney Dance Company, the works of Richard Alston, Malandain Ballet’s Cinderella, and Netherlands Dance Theater always has intriguing works. I enjoy watching pieces where the movement is smooth and flows and that also incorporates beautiful lines. I love dances that use sweeping melodies and classical instrumentation. Rather than being influenced by those works and choreographers, I would say I am inspired by them. Every person has their own organic way of moving, so I definitely don’t try to mimic what they created.

I understand this was your first time choreographing. What lessons did you learn to make you a stronger dancer?
This was my first time choreographing for our performance Fresh Inventions series at Cleveland Public Theatre. Choreographing is out of my comfort zone, but it was a great learning experience. You only grow as an artist when you are challenged in new ways. I did become aware of a few skills to make the rehearsal process more successful as a dancer;These skills include paying more attention to detail, dynamics, and focus. Something as small as a the turn of the head or the difference between a tense or open hand can completely change what the audience perceives.

Lieneke Matte, Company Dancer 
Lieneke Matte grew up in the Bronx and received her early training at Ballet Tech and the School of American Ballet. She then attended Fiorello H. La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts in New York. Lieneke studied for a semester at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and graduated summa cum laude with a B.F.A in dance from SUNY Purchase College in May of 2013. There she also received the President’s Award for the dance conservatory. She has performed in works by George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Lar Lubovitch, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Nicolo Fonte, Nicholas Villeneuve and Xiao-Xiong Zhang. Lieneke also was a dancer in the documentary No Dominion: The Ian Horvath Story which included re-stagings featuring dancers from Verb Ballets, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Boston Ballet and Ballet Tucson. Lieneke joined Verb Ballets in 2013 and has been featured in works such as “Duet” and “Laura’s Women”.

Choreographer Kate Webb explores innovative digital techniques overlaid within traditional stage performance newest work “envisage”.

What does the title of your new work mean?
en·vis·age ~ contemplate or conceive of as a possibility or a desirable future event.

How would you describe your movement style? 
Swirling movement cast upon a geometric structure (with some groove thrown in).

How do you begin making a dance?
Finding music. I believe the relationship between music and movement is sacred and indisputably interdependent.

You are utilizing video projections in your work. How did you go about creating those? 
I filmed footage of the dancers in the studio, outside, and in the theater. I then used various movie editing apps to slow them down, adjust their coloring, crop them, and reverse them. Finally, I imported them into iMovie and edited the full projection into one cohesive file including all 3 music tracks.

How would you define innovation? 
The golden stuff that comes from using an unconventional perspective as the source for thinking/doing.

Which of the field trips involved with the choreographic research project inspired or sparked creativity? 
As much as I loved going to NASA, (outer space is the neatest🤓!) working with Gary Galbraith at Case Western Reserve University was the most inspiring for this specific dance/tech mission. One of my favorite things is finding out how much I know absolutely nothing about. It keeps me humble and thinking. Holograms in dance? Infrared light sensors? …So much to discover!

What you are looking forward to in 2018 as a dancer and choreographer? 
As excited as I am for the continuously innovative dance scene of the future, the thing I’m looking forward to the most remains consistent and grows in intensity with every passing year—and that’s my love of dancing! I genuinely can’t wait to be immersed in another full year of movement, choreography, and performance. Every additional year I get to dance is a gift in countless ways. Cheesy but true!

Kate Webb, Company Dancer  
Kate Webb grew up in Richmond, Virginia where she danced both as a student and as a trainee with Richmond Ballet. She trained around the country at numerous intensive programs such as Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Upon graduating from Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts, she attended Butler University on both dance and academic scholarships. While dancing with Butler Ballet, she performed in Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. After fulfilling her degree in three years, she graduated cum laude in May of 2015 with a BS in Dance-Arts Administration and high departmental honors. Kate joined Verb Ballets in 2015 and has been featured in works such as Peter Pan and “Aposiopesis”.

Choreographer, Jocelyn Magons explores innovation by integrating reactive lighting controlled by the dancer to symbolize emotional state in her new work “Stolen Images”.

What inspires you to find your movement?  
For this particular piece, certain memories I have with my family and friends inspired each step. I made a certain word or phrase into a movement that would reflect these different memories that I have with the people that are close to me.

Tell us a bit about you piece is there a story line? 
The piece starts with a prelude where our main dancer, Lieneke Matte, is surrounded by a group of people I called the family. The family pressures the main character to the point where she feels so frustrated that she goes into an episode. The first section is what an episode looks like on the inside, while on the outside it looks as if she is just frozen. It starts off with a group I called the emotions, the emotions bring her around the stage leading her to an even darker state of mind. In the middle of this section main dancer’s thoughts of her emotions and family intertwine and become overwhelming. As the first section transitions into the second, the person I call the loved one, in real life comes and finds Lieneke after her episode which makes her darker thoughts go away. The second section is a pas de duex with the main character and the loved one, where she learns how to be comfortable with another person and trust that they will be there for her. At the end of the pas she learns that you can be uplifted by someone who has an understanding of what you’re going through.

How did the idea of utilizing light within movement come about?
My technology are ten circular push lights that are lined up horizontally along the back of the stage. The idea came about because I wanted to represent an internal feeling, with an external and physical technology. The lights symbolize how emotions the dancer feels the interaction with the lights allows the audience to see inside her mind.

How to the dancers speak to the mental frustration? 
As the dancers pursue their roles, the family sees main character as if she’s not working hard enough, not as good as she could be, and shooting unnecessary negativity that fills her mind and mixes with her emotions. It’s almost as if she is numb from what they’ve said because she’s heard it time after time. The emotions lead main character further into her dark thoughts, throwing her around and taking advantage of her blank state of mind. The loved one, has a totally different view and has compassion that she is trying her hardest and deserves to be saved.

Which of the field trips involved with the choreographic research project inspired or sparked creativity? 
All of the field trips gave me a good sense of how the worlds of dance and technology can combine. The one field trip that peaked my interest was the trip to NASA, that gave me a great sense of how the virtual, and physical world meet. For this specific piece, I wanted to bring a physical item into play and see how I could present what a mental thought or feeling was with a simple item.

Jocelyn Magons, Company Trainee  
Jocelyn Magons was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. She began her pre-professional ballet training under the direction of Christina Foisie at the University of Akron Dance Institute where she also had the privilege of performing at the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival, with the University of Akron Dance Company and with NEOS Dance Theatre. For three summers, Jocelyn trained at the Fort Wayne Ballet Summer Intensive under the direction of Karen Gibbons-Brown and Jeremy Blanton. She graduated from Miller South Middle School for the Visual and Performing Arts in Akron, majoring in both dance and violin and is now a senior at Wadsworth High School, enrolled as a Digital Academy student. She joined Verb Ballets as a trainee for their 2016-2017 season during which she performed works such as “Bolero”, Peter Pan and in The Nutcracker presented by Ohio Dance Theatre and Verb Ballets. Jocelyn is grateful for the opportunity to dance in her second season as a company trainee with Verb Ballets.

Verb Ballets – Fresh Inventions
May 17-19, 2018 at 7:30pm  

DanceWorks 2018 presented by Cleveland Public Theatre  
Thursday $12 Friday/Saturday $30  
Tickets: www.cptonline. org

About Verb Ballets
Verb Ballets, a contemporary ballet company, presents dynamic programming through bold artistry, unique styles and technical excellence that captivates a broad audience. Under the direction of Dr. Margaret Carlson, Producing Artistic Director and Richard Dickinson, MFA, Associate Director, the company will present a season that ignites passion in the energy, beauty and athleticism of dance. Critics have hailed Verb Ballets as, “Dashes preconceptions …with keen dramatic power.” -The Plain Dealer, “(Verb) is dance magnifique.” – The Examiner, “confident and polished, Verb’s dancers shone” – Dance International Magazine. Verb Ballets cultivates dance appreciation and nurtures wellness through movement in community dance classes, school residencies, senior outreach, library programs, master classes and college course partnerships. Verb Ballets has also been named one of Five Great Tiny Troupes in America by Dance Magazine and was one of the 25 dance companies in America to watch. As one of the oldest dance organizations in Cleveland we are proud to produce high caliber work and continue to connect with communities across a four-county reach. Additional information can be found at www.verbballets.org.

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Cleveland Public Theatre’s 2017 DanceWorks Series to Showcase New Artists, New Works and Old Favorites 

(c) Copyright Dana Rogers Photography

Antaeus Dance. Photo by Dana Rogers.

By Steve Sucato

The longest running and only dance series of its kind in the region, Cleveland Public Theatre’s annual DanceWorks series will once again showcase the talents of Northeast Ohio region professional dance troupes. This year the series will feature eight area troupes along with Taiwan-based dance company Body Expressions Dance Theatre (BodyEDT) over five weeks of performances May 4 – June 3, 2017 at CPT’s newly renovated James Levin Theatre.

Begun in 1998, the award-winning series is a perennial favorite with area dancegoers. The curated series of mostly modern and contemporary dance troupes has, long before binge-watching television shows became a thing, allowed audiences to, in a sense, binge-watch live dance. And like any popular series, this season’s offerings are full of new choreographic twists, new artists and the final chance to see one of its most enduring companies Joan Meggitt’s Antaeus Dance, which will cease operations after 16-years.

“This year we were really looking to represent a diverse range of [movement] aesthetics, dance creators and creations,” says CPT associate artistic director and producer of the DanceWorks series, Beth Wood. “We have a few staples of the series like Verb Ballets and Inlet Dance Theatre, but also some artists new to the series like Across the Board and Alpha dance.”

The troupes on the series are chosen through a public proposal process open to Northeast Ohio dance artists. Wood says that CPT is also open to proposals from dance companies outside the region who are willing to work within what she terms as “the theatre’s meager budget.” Each year CPT receives many more submission proposals than they can accommodate and this year Wood says they even added a fifth week to the series to present more troupes. “I try to find a balance in what we present to give audiences a little bit of everything,” says Wood.

This year the series moves back to its original home in the James Levin Theatre from CPT’s Gordon Square Theatre. For the dance companies involved that means a larger stage and for audiences members, a more intimate viewing experience. And with the addition of a new elevator, the theatre now becomes fully accessible.

Here is a brief rundown of this year’s DanceWorks offerings:

(c) Copyright Dana Rogers Photography

Travesty Dance Group. Photo by Dana Rogers.

May 4, 2017 – May 6, 2017

The two companies join forces to present Taking The Fall, a program of dance works choreographed by Meggitt and Travesty Dance Group artistic director Kimberly Karpanty that she says “pays homage to those who keep us safe, demand our honesty and serve as models for integrity and right action.”

Founded by Meggitt in 2001, Antaeus Dance (Tremont’s Resident Dance Company) will call it quits after its DanceWorks performances this week.

“It’s time,” says Meggitt. “All the mechanics to support the running of a company have become a lot for me lately and I am ready to let that go.”

Meggitt, an assistant professor of dance at Kent State University, says career advancements had made it increasing difficult to maintain Antaeus Dance. And while Antaeus may be gone Meggitt will continue to dance and choreograph, leaving the door open to work with the artists of Antaeus and others on future dance projects.

Over the years Meggitt says Antaeus has evolved as troupe from a group of young dancers excited about making works to a veteran group of dancers equally excited about making new work. As the troupe’s primary choreographer, Meggitt says her approach to making dances has also evolved over the years, first from solely creating movement on the dancers, to integrally involving the dancers in the creative process, to now a mix of both approaches.

Of making works for the company Meggitt reflected: “I’m not experimental and I am not really interested in highly technical dancing. I like the aesthetic of human beings moving together. I think I have made some works that have pushed boundaries, but in the end I am a formalist and I appreciate [choreographic] craft.”

(c) Copyright Dana Rogers Photography

Antaeus Dance. Photo by Dana Rogers.

Last at DanceWorks in 2014, Antaeus will present two works within the hourlong Taking The Fall including Meggitt’s “Mercy,” a piece for six dancers (including Meggitt) set to an original score by award-winning composer Greg D’Alessio. Returning to a recurring theme in her works of the interplay between the individual and the collective, “Mercy,” says Meggitt, “Juxtaposes the external world of relentless action against an internal world of reflection.”

The second work, also set to music by D’Alessio, will be a solo created by Meggitt for longtime company dancer Heather Koniz entitled “UpShift”.  Says Meggitt of the 3 1/2-minute solo, “I really wanted make a meaningful for her. It’s a direct, strong little bon bon of piece.”

Also in the program will be a 3-minute dance film short Meggitt and Karpanty collaborated on entitled “alter idem” (second self) that was shot on location in rural Suffield, Ohio and explores questions of identity and discovery.

In Taking The Fall, Travesty Dance Group (TDG), celebrating its 20th Anniversary Season, will present the short solos “we all had flowers,” about the human capacity to thrive after a loss, and “irreverence,” a trio about how certain body language can convey ill will towards others. TDG will also perform Karpanty’s witty “the tongue of the wise,” and  Karpanty will dance an excerpt from her new solo “Precipice”.

Verb Ballets_Photo Kolman Rosenberg_6473

Verb Ballets. Photo by Kolman Rosenberg.

May 11, 2017 – May 13, 2017

Back from its recent two week international tour to Taiwan, Verb Ballets joins forces with BodyEDT of Taiwan in Fuse: Explorations from Taiwan and Cleveland. The program, part of Verbs’ 30th anniversary season, will feature several works including a reprise of Verb company dancer Antonio Morillo’s “Pieces of Yearning”. Taking inspiration from the works of dance icon Merce Cunningham, “Pieces of Yearning” explores the process of relating environment to movement. It had its premiere this past January in New York City as part of the Martha Graham Dance Company’s NEXT@Graham series.

Verb Ballets_photo by Susan Bestul DSC_4552RT

Verb Ballets. Photo by Susan Bestul.

Also being reprised, will be fellow Verb company member Michael Hinton’s “Broken Bridges” that premiered recently as part of Verb’s Continuing the Legacy of Heinz Poll program at the Akron Civic Theatre. The work is a reimagination of Poll’s work “Elegiac Song”. Highlighting the program will be the U.S. premiere of BodyEDT founder and artistic director, Ming-Cheng Lee’s multimedia work “Initial-Space Starting”.

Inlet Dance Theatre_photo by Michelle Sipes_2

Inlet Dance Theatre. Photo by Michelle Sipes.

May 18, 2017 – May 20, 2017

mainstays Inlet Dance Theatre will present several works on their program Springing Forth With New Life including three premieres.

The premiere of “Building CLE” (made possible by the OAC’s Creative Aging Initiative) says Inlet founder and artistic director Bill Wade, is a collaboration with residents of University Circle’s Judson Manor Retirement Community. “The work is a prototype for what we hope to be a collection of works created in collaboration with aging residents throughout the Cleveland area,” says Wade. Choreographed by him, the multimedia piece is centered on the idea of “building Cleveland” and includes filmed interviews from Judson Manor’s residents.

Also new, Wade’s “Walk With Me,” is a virtuosic duet performed by Dominic Moore-Dunson and Joshua Brown.  The piece, set to an original score by Cleveland area musician/composer Lee Harrill, says Wade, “explores mentoring relationships which transform the lives of both mentor and protégé.”

Inlet Dance Theatre_photo by Michelle Sipes_1

Inlet Dance Theatre. Photo by Michelle Sipes.

The program’s third premiere also choreographed by Wade, “Sackcloth and Ashes,” is a work he says “explores the ancient practice of wearing sackcloth and ash to represent mourning for a personal or national disaster as a sign of repentance or a prayer of deliverance.”

Also on the program will be reprises of Wade’s “Let Go,” a three movement work looking at human striving, desperation, and then ultimately release, and Inlet company member Dominic Moore-Dunson’s autobiographical “Even There, You Lead Me,” a quartet investigating the dynamic of growing into manhood in a fatherless home.

Elu Dance Company_photo by LaurenStonestreet

Elu Dance Company. Photo by Lauren Stonestreet.

May 25, 2017 – May 27, 2017

In keeping with Elu Dance Company’s core mission to shine a light on humanitarian and social issues, the company’s latest evening-length work Caught, choreographed by company founders/directors/dancers Mikaela Brown and Mackenzie Valley, seeks to break through barriers of understanding by exploring the horrors of the ongoing global refugee crisis.

DanceWorks first-timers Across The Board will present an excerpted version of their evening-length work Black Don’t Crack (2016). Choreographed and performed by Makeda Abraham, Mfoniso Akpan, Aseelah Shareef and artistic director Jakari Sherman, the multimedia dance-theater work is set to a soundscape of recorded original and existing music compiled by Sherman that includes Curtis Mayfield’s song “We Are The People Darker Than Blue.”

Across the Board_photo by Jakari Sherman

Across the Board. Photo by Jakari Sherman.

Titled after an adage used in the African American community to suggest the graceful aging of black people, Black Don’t Crack is an intimate conversation about the pride, pressure and presumption associated with race and cultural aesthetics. It offers a window into the personal negotiation of these conflicts and raises questions about authenticity and how we value ourselves and others. ​

“Our piece is representative of us, our culture, and is the story of African-American dancers,” says Shareef.

The work uses spoken dialogue and video projections of recorded conversations with African-American dancers such as former Houston Ballet star Lauren Anderson and others, and will have audience members outfitted with headphones allowing them, during certain sections of the work, to listen to 1 of 3 different audio tracks. Or, if they choose, they can experience those sections without headphones and hear the house audio track.

Morrison Dance - Photo © Bob Perkoski, www.Perkoski.com

MorrisonDance. Photo by Bob Perkoski.

June 1, 2017 – June 3, 2017

Another staple of the DanceWorks series, MorrisonDance will premiere their new production In The Space Of Dreams: Asleep And Awake choreographed and directed by company founder/artistic director/dancer Sarah Morrison.

The hourlong work is set to a live music composition by Braden Pontoli, who Morrison says also inspired its theme. Braden’s idea of working together on dreams “unlocked ideas I have been storing for a long time,” says Morrison. “This has allowed us to work in a very inspired and creative way toward producing many different dances that reflect on differing visions of dreams.”

Taking further inspiration from Irish and Greek mythology to Native American dream catchers and the artwork of Salvador Dali, In The Space Of Dreams will feature Morrison’s signature mash-up of movement styles and use of props to explore the surreal visions produced in R.E.M. sleep.

Alpha_photo by Gemma Freitas-Bender and Michael Marques

Alpha’s Michael Marquez and Gemma Freitas-Bender. Photo courtesy of Alpha.

Led by GroundWorks DanceTheater dancer Michael Marquez, Alpha will make its DanceWorks debut (and maybe its only appearance as Marquez is moving abroad) with their new work Behind The Next Door.

College friends from Juilliard, Alpha is made up of Marquez, former BJM Danse member Gemma Freitas-Bender and Metropolitan Opera dancer Blake Krapels. The trio choreographed and will perform Behind The Next Door.

Says Marquez of the work: “The main topic of the piece is the complex array of choices and questions people make in life. Doors constantly open and close as decisions are made. Metaphorically, as a door closes, another one opens, while others stay closed. They define and separate spaces and figuratively symbolize different segments/chapters of life.”

Cleveland Public Theatre’s 2017 DanceWorks series runs 7 p.m., every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 4 – June 3 at CPT’s newly renovated James Levin Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave., Cleveland. Tickets are $12/Thursdays and $30/Fridays & Saturdays. For more information and tickets call (216) 631-2727 x 501 or visit cptonline.org.


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