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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A New Rooftop Dance and a New Milwaukee Dance Company

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One year ago, Milwaukee dancer/choreographers Steven Moses and Jaimi Patterson curated Rooftop Dance, a collection of dances by themselves and friends. The open-air performances took place on the flat roof of the INVIVO Wellness Center located where the Milwaukee River meets the Humboldt Avenue Bridge. Modest, welcoming (wine was served) and graceful in every way, it was a highlight of the summer.

“The fact that it went so well made us want to repeat it,” Moses said, but the location of the all-new Rooftop Dance on June 27-29 will be indoors on the top floor of Kenilworth Square East, the Peck School of the Arts building on Kenilworth Place. With an outdoor terrace, a high ceiling and huge windows, Room 620 is as close to a rooftop as Moses and Patterson could procure while also offering elevator access, controllable acoustics and refuge from bad weather.

The program includes new dances by Gerald Casel, Javier Marchan Ramos, Mauriah Kraker, Hilary Anderson, Patterson and Moses. Casel has won international acclaim for his sensitive, near-abstract constructions. Moses and Patterson were members of his company in Milwaukee while he was a guest artist and visiting faculty member with UW-Milwaukee's dance department from 2010-2012. This year, they visited him in California where he made a new duet for them for this occasion.

Marchan Ramos, a former UWM dance student now based in Chicago, has a loyal Milwaukee following from his work with the Wild Space and Danceworks companies. He’ll present a new solo. Four fine Milwaukee dancers will premiere duets: Anderson’s is for herself and Libby Faye Schmitz; Kraker’s is for herself and Jose Luis. Patterson’s new “Rebel Red”—a solo with lipstick as a crucial prop—will be performed by dancer Brenna Marlin to Tim Russell’s live musical accompaniment.

“And Then We Try Again” by Moses has a cast of five including Patterson, Anderson, Schmitz, Luis and Kao Zhong Xiong whose fully engaged rendering of the song “You Are My Sunshine” moved me deeply during a rehearsal.  She’s a powerful presence in a complex composition built, Moses said, on the experience of “having the rug pulled out from beneath you.”

Importantly, this second, perhaps annual Rooftop Dance is also the first production by Moses’ and Patterson’s new company, the Human Movement Project. Moses credits his UWM teachers and the dance community for enabling them to add their voices to Milwaukee’s dance scene.

The Human Movement Project presents Rooftop Dance in Room 620 of Kenilworth Square East, 1925 E. Kenilworth Place at 9 p.m. on Thursday, June 27, and at 8 and 10 p.m. June 28-29. Visit rooftopdancemke.com for tickets.