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Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008

Let it Snow

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Forget the weatherman.

Those seeking an accurate predictor of the year's first snowstorm need only to check the performance schedule of the Wild Space Dance Company, whose December shows are unfailingly met by unfortunate winter maelstroms. The pattern has become so unflinchingly reliable that Artistic Director Debra Loewen decided to embrace the gods of winter this year with Snow, a new performance that acknowledges our unavoidable link with the cruelest season.

Loewen, who founded the groundbreaking contemporary dance company in 1986, has a bittersweet relationship with winter and its attendant blanket of troublesome precipitate. In Wisconsin, "we can't get around winter," Loewen says. "It shapes who we are. We love the first snowfall but, at the same time, we hate it.

"I regard winter and snow as a blank canvas, both literally and artistically, upon which one can create anything," she continues. "In a whiteout, possibilities abound. There is a glacial peace and sense of renewal with the change of season."

Wild Space's performances are site-specific, with spaces carefully selected to match the piece. For Snow, the troupe will utilize the technical advantages of the Milwaukee Rep's Steimke Theater, employing snow machines and a video background of winter imagery, garnered from such varied media as John Carpenter's The Thing. Dancers will convey our delight and frustration with winter utilizing sleds, shovels and snowshoes, among other appropriate props.

In addition, the program features the return of dancer/choreographer Erin Dudley. A New York City artist with an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Dudley will present "Sedna's Betrayal," a Butoh solo work inspired by the tragic Eskimo myth of the goddess of the sea.

Loewen is grateful to the Wild Space audiences who have braved treacherous roads to make their past winter shows a success and, in anticipation of a weekend storm, wryly notes that those who ski or sled to the theater can enjoy free parking.

Snow will be performed Dec. 4-6 in the Steimke Theater.