May 2nd marks the opening night of Trillium’s latest dance and movement theatre performance, Knock, Knock – Who’s There? The punch line is a collection of talented individuals from around the country and right here in Lewisburg that are as passionate about movement as we are.
Allison Coleman is a teacher at the Trillium School for Performing Arts and we are proud to feature her original choreography for the first time in a Trillium concert. In the classroom, Allison gently illuminates three and four year olds on the ins and outs of creative movement. To see this is to witness how simply innocent and fun moving can be. But in her new piece, Healing Landscapes, Allison transforms those same concepts into powerful tools to discuss some very deep and important issues. The work is a response to the current situation that we find ourselves in environmentally, economically, physically, spiritually and emotionally. It is her hope that this piece will inspire change and whole systems of thinking in a time where it is needed most.
Rachel Rugh is also a teacher for Trillium andhas performed in concerts past. She returns in May as a choreographer and half of a duet alongside her artistic collaborator Eliza Larson. The piece is excerpted from their new collaborative collective’s evening length work. Everybody Knows This is Here Now explores concepts of distance and proximity quite literally given that the partnership is taking place from Northampton, MA to Blacksburg VA using video chats to facilitate rehearsals. The resulting work is a “blending of process and product.”
Enclosure is also an excerpt from an evening length work entitled, Unravel, created by Richmond Area Dance Artists Redefined, or RADAR. The piece investigates struggles in life as the dancers metaphorically find themselves caught in an ever-changing web of obstacles. RADAR is comprised of professional dancers and educators who have been able to transfer their love and appreciation of dance and movement into fulfilling and successful careers and we are honored to welcome them.
Returning guest, Kirby Soderberg has taken a more independent approach to his performance career. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts as well as a Bachelor of Fun Arts, he was certainly equipped to entertain. He has performed with many local dance companies in Arizona and even has a self titled variety show. All clowning aside, he hits a more serious note in Still Have You which is about love, love lost, love found and love lost again. The question is: How do we cope with the nagging risk in romance? Fear always alongside love, and so the piece continues…
It is a treat to be able to see what other dance companies and choreographers are working on and to be able to share that with our audiences.This show promises to be a fun, entertaining event with a varied menu and you won’t want to miss it. Dress Rehearsal on Thursday May 1st will be open to the public on a “pay what you can” basis. Opening night is on Friday May 2nd at 7:30pm with shows following Saturday the 3rd at 7:30 and Sunday the 4th at 3:00pm. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, youth and AmeriCorps members.
This program is presented with financial assistance from the WV Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts with approval from the WV Commission on the Arts
The Trillium Performing Youth presents their annual showcase March 30th at 3pm at the Lewis Theatre. The group of 11 talented teens includes Allegra Browne, Emma Foster, Kelsea Hower, Chloe Nelson, Jules Kessler, Summer Hardiman, Neely Seams, Hayley Burroughs, Grace Coffindaffer, Zella Miller and Madison Sims. They will be performing works choreographed by Donald Laney, Heather Taylor-Martin, Kathryn Ullom, Brandon Woods, as well as some original work by fellow TPY dancers.
Intention has come to be an integral part of the performing youth curriculum. The dancers are not just focused on technique and skill, but also on conveying emotion, telling a story. All of the pieces that are part of their current repertoire go beyond memorization of marks and counts to express something much more meaningful.
We hope you’ll join us for this special occasion! Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for full-time students and AmeriCorps. All proceeds go towards the Trillium Performing Youth scholarship fund. Contributions welcome.
A Letter from Eileen Kramer
I have been sitting on a seat halfway down Windsor Street, on a tiny patch of grass which separates lower Windsor from upper Windsor (my terms for them). It’s a little bit like the term, “below the salt,” from, I think, the Middle Ages, when the servants sat at the same table as the masters, only at the far end: “below the salt.” The houses are of the same terrace design as above the salt, but they don’t look so well and they are smaller – some with only one window instead of two, opening to the balcony and to the tiny verandah – usually tiled and wide enough for one chair. The garden part in both above the salt and below it is always the same; about two and a half meters or yards wide and long. On these tiny spaces, street after street, are an amazing variety of jars, tiles, pots, ferns, trees, plants, bushes – Jasmine with lovely perfume at the moment – roses, daisies, exotic statuettes and a few weedy looking stuff, while out on the pavement itself, trees with fine white-greenery peeling bark dripping down like fringed shawls, and some with great thick roots like Boa Constrictors disfiguring the pavement as they appear on and disappear from the stuff that lines the walking area of the street.
This very large area of “heritage” houses and streets is actually the second largest in the world. I suppose the first is in England or Scotland.
Anyway, three quarters of the way along Windsor Street, there is a dividing line with a very small patch of grass which could be called a park, blocking the whole street so that it forms the border between above the salt and below it. I sat this morning, on the only seat, with the warmth of the sun and enjoyed the dreaminess I’ve often felt in Australia. An occasional woman with child-in-pram went past and seemed part of that dreaming… no wonder the Aboriginal legends – most of them – are from “the dreaming” or “dream time.” The workman who seemed to have something to do there walked past me and told me I was the first person to sit on that seat! He had only just installed it.
Some funny black and white birds with longish beaks stood and looked at me for awhile and flew like mad up into the white-grey tree trunks and feathery leaves. On one corner, a man was using a trowel to tidy up an arched doorway of a building that is going to look nice when it’s all fixed up. On another corner is an art gallery where, last time I was here, I saw a painting of myself reclining on a couch, nude, but with a long blond wig on my head and a white dove sitting with outstretched wings on my wrist. The painter was Norman Lindsey, one of a famous artist family. While he was painting the picture, he looked up and said, “Oh, it’s wonderful to see a woman with long hair again.” Because then, most women had short hair.
Since being here, I have met (in the street, delivering catalogues to mailboxes) a big beautiful woman from the Kingdom of Tonga – an island off the coast of New Zealand where I saw, in their only airport, the best children’s paintings I’ve ever seen – and in a taxi, I met a driver who came from Timor, somewhere north of Australia – he only charged me five dollars instead of seven! – And in another taxi, a Turk who was also nice to me. In the local general store, a Chinese lady (also nice), somewhere else a man from Peru, and the pharmacy, a Japanese man, and in the eye clinic a European doctor and in the bus a nicely dressed – actually the same kind of clothes as I wear – woman who looked Viennese. I told her she looked lovely and she looked sad, Viennese style of sad, and rueful and said, “I’m an old lady.” So I said, “Guess how old I am.” And she made a “Moue,” which is a rounding of the lips to express wonder!
And so on…
Today I went to a music afternoon given by “Eric” in the local senior center. He gave a concert of recorded “Comic Opera,” of Viennese composers and great singers of the same period as Madame B. and I shed one and a half tears and felt sad, and then inspired, and imagined myself dancing for the seniors, a dance from the waist up, like the one I did called, “Touching the Air,” with Eric supplying the beautiful music of Vienna. I expect to be doing something like that at the senior center. Meanwhile, its bus takes people shopping and on cultural outings and sends quite good meals on wheels.
Tomorrow, luncheon with Noline and Coralie (yum yum!) and tomorrow evening, dinner with Gail and looking out at all the big ships and fine works on the harbor and wondering which ship Prince Harry will be on; he’s visiting Sydney at the moment.
Must go heat up a meal-on-wheels.
P.S. Have written three children’s stories for a little book Noline is producing. It’s to be given to children in the hospital – in their stockings, for Christmas day.
1. “Percival and the Flying Elevator” (freedom for elevators!)
2. “Allison’s Doll’s Dress (5 year old makes her dolls dress)
3. “Tania and the Tadpoles” (T. watches tadpoles change into frogs)
– All true stories except the Elevator which is really about freedom – elevator escapes the elevator shaft etc, etc.
Note from editor, Josie Martin
Though I just missed Eileen when I started at Trillium, it has been a pleasure to hear everyone speak so lovingly of her, and now, to read this fond letter she writes from Australia. This was given to me by Beth White and we both agreed that it should be shared with all of the people who knew her here in Lewisburg. After having spent some time with the piece, I can get a strong sense of who this big person is and how her character has affected the lives of so many.
Who Can Make a Dance with Eleven Teens in Four, 90 Minute Rehearsals?
Donald Laney Can.
By: Beth White
It’s 5:15 on a mild, autumn, Tuesday evening. I’m sitting in the dark, sixteen rows up stadium seating in The Lewis Theatre looking down at a group of teenagers on a lit-up, hardwood, stage. Two sit downstage left stretching and whispering, one leads the other eight in a warm up. I like the discipline that I’m observing already. When Donald Laney of West Virginia Dance Company comes through the backstage door, it’s with the unassuming stride of a person on a mission. Long limbed, barrel-chested, beautifully muscled, his hair and his nose both are pointed, and indicative of his style; he gets right to it!
“Okay, I’m not gonna get your names. I won’t retain them. We don’t have time. So, please don’t take it personally…I’m just gonna point and say, “You,” or, “Pink, green, referring to what you are wearing. Okay?” The dancers nod their heads and the first session with Donald begins.
He takes time with a warm-up that is practically a class in itself. He is making certain that important concepts such as, release, fully extend, eyes alive, and under-curve, are understood and manifesting in the movement he is eliciting. Donald is not rushing. I sense he learned, ages ago, the wisdom in the adage: “The hurrider you go the behinder you get.” Donald is drinking in these young dancers with a keen and discerning, choreographer’s eye.
By the end of the first ninety minute session, Donald has given the group two phrases of dancing. The first phrase is all in standing, walking level, the second rolls to the floor. The dancers learn these phrases well enough that both can be going on at the same time! Then Donald changes the directions some dancers are facing. Then he has some of it happen in canon – each dancer beginning the phrase three counts after the dancer before them. Now I see the movement from all angles; the space between dancers forms and re-forms making a different impression with each change. Dramatic and narrative impressions begin to emerge. It starts to be choreography.
Donald ends right on time and is out the door. He has miles to go before he sleeps and lots to put together before the second rehearsal on Thursday. “Revisit these phrases before you go to sleep tonight!” I remind the dancers as they are gathering their things to leave. “Even if you are only lying on your back with your eyes closed and going over it in your minds…do not go to sleep tonight without going over it!” They nod.
That first session, I’d intended to observe for thirty minutes and leave. However, I was drawn in. I stayed the full ninety minutes. It was FUN and FASCINATING, as a choreographer myself, to watch Donald work. I became very hungry, but I couldn’t leave. In fact, I watched all of the four rehearsals!
The music Donald chose is in 3/4 time: Rich, deeply Appalachian. It makes me think of home grown potatoes, mashed, warm, butter melting on them. He never tells us who wrote the music. When he hands me a CD, the title of the music is not written on it…nothing is. He JUST found time to make the CD, forget writing on it!
Donald likes to pull up his pant-leg when he’s working. He gives a phrase, the dancers do it and then he inquires, “Yes? No? Maybe?” and expects an honest answer. He will repeat and explain until the dancer understands it. TPY dancers are not afraid to ask when they do not understand though, and Donald gets lots of questions. Students at Trillium get practice early on being invited to ask a question or comment in a respectful manner. If there wasn’t this level of comfort and confidence, a productive exchange couldn’t occur between teacher and student and creating a dance in six hours would be nearly impossible.
Dancer: “What is your foot doing on 6?”
Dancer: “Those are different counts, though!”
Donald: “I know, because I tagged it on to….”
Dancer: “Oh, thank you.”
Donald: “Does that make sense though?”
Donald: “There’s gonna be some dead counts. So, just walk through that part, and then start again – when the music gets to what I have given you…”
The dancers let him see what he has, bookending the “dead counts” where he doesn’t have anything…yet. In this manner the dancers are Donald’s paint, his instrument if you will. It is quite a process!
Once the movement is learned, quality and intention are layered on. Donald asks the dancers to have specific images and motivations for certain movements.
Donald: “1-2-3- There’s the water, 2-2-3- I hear a voice behind me, 3-2-3- I hear another voice, and then, 4-2-3 – I reach to the heavens. It has to be because I hear a voice.”
The audience will sense there is a story, not explicitly, but there is a story there!
Half way through the fourth rehearsal the dance is completed. “Voila!” Magic? No: Talent, experience and hard work. Donald came prepared; the students brought training, discipline, willingness and endurance! I smile now thinking of this work being performed in Trillium Performing Youth’s 2013-14 tour of elementary schools, senior care facilities, and other venues!
“I believe in truth in dancing and she pulled truth into all of her dancing.”
We are so grateful for the time we had with Cyan, from a five year old student, to her flourish into womanhood as a beautiful dancer, choreographer and person. Strength, grace, humor and heart, our stage has been blessed with her presence. What a joy and honor to have shared a piece of her life.
We remember her with immense love in our hearts.