Were you blown away by the precise physicality of the dancers? What did you think of the company's ability to perform such diverse repertoire? Which piece(s) resounded the most with you? Join in the conversation!
Although mainstream dance films are few and far between, it is difficult to find a dancer who hasn’t seen Center Stage. The 2000 drama displays a group of young, aspiring dancers at the fictitious American Ballet Academy in New York and the physical and psychological stresses of training that they face in their attempt to make it in the competitive world of dance.
If you’ve seen Center Stage, you’ll recall the talented male dancer who jetéd into the hearts of thousands – Cooper Nielson, also known as Ethan Stiefel.
We've had enough of this polar vortex nonsense here in Minnesota. Which is why we're so excited about WAM Warmer, the Pop-Up Northrop event starting this week, courtesy of the amazing WAM Collective. Inspired by the Weisman's spring exhibition, this traditional Siberian chum has a lot going on, so we asked the folks in the Collective a answer a few questions about it. Stop by on your way to class and experience the WAM Warmer!
University Collaborative Ambassadors for Northrop: So what is this giant WAM Warmer we will start to see out on the Northrop Plaza?
WAM Collective: WAM Collective will be building a pop-up based on a traditional chum (pronounced “choom”), a temporary dwelling used by the nomadic Yamal-Nenets and Khanty reindeer herders of northwestern Siberia, Russia. The "WAM Warmer" is inspired by WAM’s spring exhibition, Siberia: Imagined and Reimagined, a collection of photographs spanning over 130 years by 50 Russian photographers exploring the depths of Siberia, never before showcased in the United States. Students will be able to go inside of the WAM Warmer and "warm up" while walking through campus. Once inside, there will be a free pamphlet for each student to take, leading them on WAM Collective's "Campus Journey." The Campus Journey is a collection of hidden gems across campus for students to explore and discover. Students who participate in the Campus Journey will be entered to win a VIP package to the Siberia: Imagined and Reimagined opening at the end of the month.
U-CAN: What was the most exciting part about this project?
WAM: The most exciting part about this project is that we have the opportunity to create an out of the ordinary experience for students on campus to take part in. We believe that the pop-up itself and the Campus Journey will offer surprising insights to a campus that we all walk across everyday.
U-CAN: Any big challenges?
WAM: Big challenges? YES! The WAM Warmer is based on a traditional structure that is built by people who have been trained their whole lives to do so. This is our first time building a warming hut, and for us it was a bit more work than anticipated. The size of the structure is truly what has been so intimidating! The final WAM Warmer will be 12 feet in diameter and uses 14 foot high poles to hold it up! Even though the process has had its challenges, figuring out how to create this structure has been really fun. We can't wait to see it set up on Northrop's plaza.
U-CAN: Tell us about the new exhibit, Siberia Imagined and Reimagined, that is coming to the Weisman.
WAM: Siberia: Imagined and Reimagined is a collection of photographs organized by the Foundation for International Arts and Education. The exhibit consists of 50 Russian photographers with images spanning across 130 years. The photographs chronicle the reality and the myths of a quite mysterious place, Siberia. This is the first time these photographs are being brought to the American public. We think the show offers an "inside look" to this sort of unknown world and actually has allowed us to discover some surprising parallels between Minnesota and Siberia's landscape and culture. The exhibit will be on view from February 1 to May 18, 2014, with a special preview party to celebrate the opening happening Friday, January 31 at WAM.
U-CAN: The opening sounds exciting! What is that going to involve?
WAM: We are so excited about the opening! First of all, if you don't catch the WAM Warmer while its up on Northrop's plaza (or even if you do) you can have a chance to see it again at the opening. The indoor/outdoor exhibition preview party is FREE and open to the public. While inside the museum, guests have the opportunity to preview the show, hang out with DJ Jonathan Ackerman and enjoy a hot cocoa bar. Once outside, you can visit the WAM Warmer, snuggle up to some real, live reindeer, and sit at the ice bar while sipping on speciality cocktails inspired by Siberia. WAM members will receive 2 free drink tickets at check in. More information can be found at wam.umn.edu/events.
How did the piece inform your perceptions about the relationship of the mind and the body with movement? Did the intense lighting visuals and the music influence your ideas about the relationship between the dancers? What about the staging or choreography stood out to you? Join the conversation!
Since its premiere in 2010, Wayne McGregor's evening-length work FAR has toured the world and gained many accolades for its insightful exploration of the relationship between intellection and physicality, calling into question the conventions of dance. Fascinated by neuroscience and new technologies, the British choreographer was inspired by the book Flesh in the Age of Reason (hence titling his work FAR), where the historian Roy Porter recounts how the view of the body has evolved since the Enlightenment and how medical discoveries challenged then-current beliefs about the mechanisms of thought and emotion. Conducting his own rigorous analysis of the mechanisms of choreography, McGregor pursues in FAR his own studies of the interactions between body and mind in order to expand the scope of his choreography.
Several questions have shaped McGregor’s process behind creating the work, such as how the body expresses or inhibits intention, and what modes of communication are involved in the creative process. McGregor’s own work, especially his collaborations with cognitive scientists, is reflective of the intellectual exploration of the Enlightenment and the revolution in medical perspectives during that time. “What we’ve been doing is unpeeling the layers of the creative process: how do we understand better what happens in the creative process, and how do we arm dancers to build better imaginations? And I thought that stripping away of layers was analogous to the very beginning of the Enlightenment.”
McGregor is renowned for his physicality-testing choreography and collaborations across dance, film, music, visual art, technology, and science. With the company he founded almost twenty years ago, McGregor has developed a signature style blending contemporary ballet and modern dance with cutting-edge technology. McGregor’s own long, lean, and supple physique informs the unique quality of his choreography and dancer’s ability to register movement with peculiar sharpness and speed; at one extreme McGregor’s choreography is a sequence of tiny fractured angles, at the other, it is a whirl of seemingly boneless fluidity.
McGregor largely transforms our view of the body with this visceral, mathematical, and sensual work, testing out all the ways the body might conceivably move. Intelligence and emotion are creatively combined in an incredible futuristic set design that commands your attention, featuring 3,200 computerized LED penlights that shape the atmospheric shifts and emotionality of the work throughout. Set to a score by Ben Frost, which proceeds from Vivaldi to a bestial electronic growl, the ten performers engage in a series of cryptic, intense encounters that invite the spectator to experience a new full-body perception of dance performance.
Get a behind the scenes glimpse at the making of FAR through this video, before seeing the artistic vision of Wayne McGregor | Random Dance come alive next Tuesday, January 14 at 7:30 pm.