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Get Intimate with Dancers

Independent choreographers show their stuff at Art6.

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"It's great to be able to perform so close to the audience," says Starr Foster, who initiated the showcase five years ago as an opportunity for independent dance artists to show new works that they could not afford to self-produce. In a small space, performers can feel more connected to their audience and see the reaction to their work; viewers can appreciate different aspects of a dance, such as facial expressions and subtle gestures. Several works on this weekend's program seem particularly well-suited to the gallery's intimate setting.

Choreographer Ashley Thorndike, of Charlottesville's Prospect Dance Group, says she is "excited by the challenge of performing solo work in an intimate space." Thorndike's "Solo From November," she says, "plays on shapes and body shifts that are abstractions of proper social behavior." Exploring both the restraints and freedoms offered by a small performance space, Richmond choreographer Myrle-Marie Bongiovanni's new work, "In the Empty Moments," contrasts expansive movement with smaller, more personal gestures.

Additionally, Amanda Kinzer, assistant professor of communication and theater arts at Old Dominion University, travels from Norfolk to offer "Passage," a trio that investigates the intimate connection between dance and love relationships. While making the work, Kinzer challenged herself to work collaboratively, asking each of her dancers to create movement based on their own experiences with dance and love, which she then wove into phrases she created. "My hope is that the finished work may appeal to many people," whether they are dance aficionados or not, she says.

If intimacy provides one theme to this concert, artists challenging themselves during the creative process provides another. Laura Meyers, artistic director of the Swift Project, presents "Swift," a film she created with dancer Hannah Watkins, film editor Greg Antrim Kelly, cinematographer Lucile Miller and composer Christopher Coello. "The film is the culmination of a process of research in which each of the five artists … had complete artistic and editorial license within their realm of expertise," says Meyers. "We each were given surprises when we received what the others had created." "Swift" has been presented in both national and regional film festivals.

Foster herself contributes a multimedia production, "Experiment in a Bag," that includes video by Doug Hayes, a founding member of Art6. The work features five dancers exploring the boundaries of space while confined in a large fabric bag. "At times," says Foster, "the bag seems to camouflage itself against the gallery walls as if it were a sculpture."

Foster is excited by a program enhanced by variety, collaboration and the intimate gallery setting. "The program is even a surprise for me, since I don't see the dances until tech rehearsal," she says. The choreographers are excited to share their work with each other, and with the Richmond audience. Meyers says the great joy of sharing work is that "you welcome others in, and that is always interesting to me." S



The 5th Annual Choreographers' Showcase takes place Dec. 10-11 at Art6 Gallery, 6 E. Broad St. Tickets are $5. For more information, call 343-1406 or e-mail reservations@sfdproject.org.

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