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Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014

'Winter Dances: Past Moving Forward'

The UWM dance department on the move

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Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the UW-Milwaukee dance department brought forth a new chapter with Winter Dances: Past Moving Forward. Five artists with ties to UWM choreographed the performances. The themes of the evening included human connection, intimacy and perseverance.

■ In the chat room has no doors, choreographed by Debra Loewen (Wild Space Dance Company director and member of the UWM faculty), dancers emerged in bright colors, like a rat race, each carrying a laptop. In a room full of people, everyone seemed to be enthralled in a World Wide Web of their own. Between quick jerky movements, voyeuristic dancing and the occasional selfie, they rarely interacted with one another except to try and pry the computer from each other’s lifeless fingers.

Going to Polly’s, choreographed by MFA candidate Carrie Lande Homuth, examined sex appeal. Set in an underground brothel, three women dressed in 1930s clothing mimicked smoking cigarettes, letting out exasperated exhales, flirting with the audience as they lifted their skirts revealing some leg, living dangerously in their taboo times.

La Hora de Salir (deconstructed), choreographed by faculty member Maria Gillespie, set an intimate tone immediately. Light bulbs hung from the ceiling, illuminating the dancers on stage against slow flamenco music. Solo dancers formed pairs and were like power ballads of movement performed by lovers, some carrying and caring for each other only to then separate. The choreographer sought to explore “the powerful union and separation of two individuals.”

Proximity Determines, choreographed by the concert’s Artistic Director Christina Briggs Winslow in her third year as a visiting faculty member, examined the role of groupthink. Beginning with a mass of dancers intertwined with one another, one dancer was singled out only to be pulled in, her movements controlled by the other dancers who lifted her arms and legs and bent her over until she broke free. Dancing solo, she teetered on the edge of the stage until she eventually toppled off, begging the question of whether she fell off, was pushed or decided to jump.

Lamb, choreographed by alum Keely Garfield, now an established New York choreographer, was inspired by the Zen saying “fall seven times, stand up eight.” There was this notion of getting back on the horse after falling off the wagon, which was conveyed through the rhythmic sound of their boots as dancers rode each other and galloped in circles. Later the tired dancers fell to the ground, only to get back up again and move forward.