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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Danceworks' Magical 'Stone Soup'

Dance performance takes place at Sweet Water Organics

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Stone Soup, a Danceworks Performance Company premiere (April 28-May 1), takes its title from a folk legend of soldiers playing a trick on stingy villagers who refuse them food and shelter. The soldiers take an ordinary stone and claim that it has magic: Put it in a pot with food and the food will multiply. The curious villagers bring food to the pot to test the stone's powers—and, in doing so, they produce the magic. Each person's contribution is multiplied by everyone else's and the result is a delicious communal soup.

As in the legend, all the members of Danceworks Performance Company brought movement material to the dance. Artistic Director Dani Kuepper and Associate Artistic Director Kim Johnson-Rockafellow guided the process, and Kuepper shaped the material into a unified whole.

"We've never made anything as abstract as this," Kuepper says. "It's about space, form and design, not character or narrative." She describes it as "big moves, spacious and very physical—anyone will enjoy its physicality."

Stone Soup
will be presented at Sweet Water Organics, an urban farm in a repurposed factory building at 2151 S. Robinson Ave. (near Becher and Kinnickinnic) in Bay View. Sweet Water supplies fish and vegetables for several local restaurants, including Honeypie, La Merenda, Sanford and Coquette Café. The company uses a growing system called "aquaponics" to fertilize vegetables with fish-tank water, which is then filtered by the plants and returned to the tanks. The dance will be preceded by a short tour of Sweet Water because in crucial ways the choreography responds to the techniques, philosophy and physical realities of the farm.

Bleachers and chairs will be set up in a huge open indoor space. Seth Warren-Crow and his band will perform his original score live. This is the first time Danceworks has played in such a nontraditional site. Jan Kellogg, who has lighted performances in many nontraditional spaces, will perform that service. Kuepper emphasized that the dance is not a response to the space, but to the farm's goals, which mirror those of Danceworks. Both organizations offer educational programs that emphasize respect for self, others and the environment, and both maintain a dynamic relationship with the community, where taking inspiration is as important as giving it.

Tours start at 6:45 and 7 p.m. and performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Call 414-277-8480, ext. 6025 or visit www.danceworksmke.org.
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