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Terpsichore's Kitchen

Terpsichore's Kitchen

Creative hothouse

by Stephanie Rieke

From the July, 2006 issue

Last fall, New York Times dance writer Gia Kourlas wrote a still-controversial "think piece" lamenting that New York City has lost its edge and no longer serves as the vortex of international contemporary dance. According to Kourlas, the European Union — with its combination of open borders, diverse and innovative artists, and bold producers who embrace challenging work — has eclipsed New York, whose dance establishment trends toward the safe and palatable. While Ann Arbor is too small to have been in the running as a dance capital, area choreographers have long presented experimental programs that often balance the more blue-chip companies that pass through town. Now in its tenth season, Terpsichore's Kitchen's annual Dancing in Summer show is one such creative hothouse.

Curated by Terpsichore's Kitchen founder Aimee McDonald-Anderson — the company is named after the Greek muse of dance — this summer showcase offers approximately eight bite-size modern works by independent choreographers over the course of an evening. "It's a good introduction to modern dance for those who previously might have been uninterested, or intimidated, by longer, more involved works," says McDonald-Anderson. "It also makes a nice sampler for the experienced concertgoer."

The focus is on sharing recent work, highlighting for the audience what's new now, and providing the artists with welcome feedback and production experience. Many of the same choreographers have appeared over the years, allowing dance fans to trace their artistic development and concerns. In addition to McDonald-Anderson, who will present an excerpt from a longer, unfinished piece entitled Rippled Sea with a score by Gerald Siclovan, this year's show will include a vibrant new solo by Lourdes Bastos, former director of a renowned Brazilian dance company; a premiere set to the music of classical guitar master Francisco Tárrega by U-M dance lecturer Melissa Beck Matjias; and an untitled work by Christina Sears-Etter, the director of Ann Arbor's People Dancing, who's known for her engaging group dynamics and whimsical characterizations. Beth Wielinski,

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another shining star on the local dance scene, builds her meditative, theatrical imagery as if through a viewfinder. Her Trinity, presented at Performance Network in 2004, was entrancing — smart and gorgeous. I look forward to this year's solo created in collaboration with the contemporary music ensemble Clock and Body.

"People often comment to me they are surprised to see dance of this caliber in Ann Arbor," says McDonald-Anderson. "I hope it opens up opportunities for the choreographers to build a following."

Dancing in Summer runs at the Performance Network Wednesday through Sunday, July 5-9.

[Review published July 2006]     (end of article)


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