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Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013

Collaboration is Key to Danceworks’ Intersect

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Intersect, the latest show from the Danceworks Performance Company, takes collaboration to the next level. Running through Sunday, Nov. 24 at the intimate Danceworks Studio Theatre, 1661 N. Water St., the show manages the traditional balances of dance while also adding film projection, live music, improvisation, set changes and original musical compositions to the mix.

The result is a set of five new, thoroughly entertaining and diverse works that often reveal as much about collaboration in message and movement as about the stories of their creation.

The show begins with "A Product of Distance," choreographed by Christina Briggs Winslow and Edward Winslow to Tim Russell's original music and featuring many of the night's dancers: Alberto Cambra, Kim Johnson-Rockafellow, DPC Artistic Director Dani Kuepper, Gina Laurenzi, Joelle Worm and Liz Zastrow.

A suspended tent-like structure serves as a canvas for abstract video projections by Kate Price and is used in the piece to great effect to manipulate shadow and create a beautiful translucent filter for the dancers. On a psychological level, the tent works as a space to explore the show's meaning. As dancers evoke racers jockeying for physical position, the tent becomes a parallel space to negotiate the yet more tenuous business of emotional distance in relationships.

In the piece "Um, ok... Now Let’s Move On," flutist Emma Koi and Cellist Alicia Storin accompany dancers Christal Wagner and Melissa Anderson and are actually incorporated into the piece as directors, co-conspirators and spirited comedic relief.

Wagner's choreography is touchingly personal, set to snippets of a recorded fortune telling game between Koi, Storin and Wagner. Snippets of the conversation are sliced-and-diced and set to music to create beautiful rhythms and meanings that help depict the themes of uncertain futures, paths into pain and the slap you often need to get you out of the ruts we find in life, movement and thought.

In Laura Murphy's tense and interesting "An Inherence Presence," dancers made a gradual move across the stage to Amanda Schoofs’ improvisational "For Laura," performed by David Collins on the saxophone and Steve Schlei playing an iPad/TC-11. The musicians created an expanse of otherworldly and occasionally intense sounds as dancers responded with improvisations of their own.

The solo of the night, "Beneath," was choreographed and performed by Laurenzi with projections of jellyfish as a backdrop. Matt Martell’s original music sounded like you would imagine water pressed up to you ears might sound. It helped Laurenzi create through movement the sensation of floating aquatic life, showcasing her impressive control and strength as a dancer.

The final piece, Kuepper's "Laws and Logic" with music by Martell and Niccolo Paganini, enlisted the full ensemble in an imaginative and humorous take on the choreographer-dancer relationship. A disembodied hand shoved production notes onstage to admonish, direct and, more often than not, confuse the hell out of the dancers. The cleverly funny piece managed to perfectly capture the panic, frustration and quest for seamlessness that creating a performance can be. It was a light-hearted, fitting way to end a night of dances that consistently managed to pull together collaborations without a seam in sight.