Opening In

Photo Credit: Curiosita Photography
Photo Credit: Noah Stein
Photo Credit: Curiosita Photography
Photo Credit: Curiosita Photography

In Spring 2015 I took my first and only sabbatical.  This time was used to  jump-start a personal commitment to solo-performance after many years of dancing ensemble work.  During this time I engaged in research that was both artistically and technically demanding, requiring extensive work in the studio and beyond.  The final product, Opening In was performed August 27-29, 2015 in Winter Theatre, Dana Fine Arts at Agnes Scott College.  This was an evening-length solo dance performance that I created and performed alongside guest artists. This performance took the viewer through time, reflecting on historical experiences through dance to create an evening that encouraged progression.  The program included choreography by Doris Humphrey, Lester Horton, Kristin O’Neal and myself alongside guest performances by dancers, musicians, artists and writers.  The dance pieces were connected through dramatic interludes that were created to set the tone leading into the next work.

Funding for this project was made possible by The Addison Fund, Agnes Scott College.  This funding was awarded by the Professional Development Committee at Agnes Scott College.  

Please click here to view the Opening In Poster 

Please click here to view the Opening In Program

Below is a description of each of the dance pieces and interludes included in the performance

Opening and Labanotation Description.  When the audience arrived in the theatre the following quote was projected on the back wall of the stage:

“Your past is always your past. Even if you forget it, it remembers you.” 
― Sarah Dessen

At the beginning of the concert (Before the performance of Two Ecstatic Themes) the following passage was read (by me) while the audience got to see the image of a Labanotation score projected on the stage wall:

Abstract Symbols aligned in space create a beautiful image on paper that when read together become the gateway into the past.  These symbols aligned in space create scores, for recreating choreography.  Experiencing a historical dance either as a performer or viewer can serve to teach us where we have come from, where we are going and what still requires improvement.  Clarity in the score informs clarity in the body.  Two-dimensional images that translate to three-dimensional choreographic experiences.  Labanotation.

Two Ecstatic Themes: This dance was choreographed in 1931 by modern dance pioneer, Doris Humphrey.  In this solo, Doris Humphrey was exploring the physical drama of rising versus sinking and the defeat and surrender to gravity.  The rights to this dance are housed at the Doris Humphrey Foundation at Goucher College.  I staged this dance from the Labanotation score on myself and upon completion a specialist from the Humphrey Foundation traveled to Atlanta to coach my performance of the work. Staff pianist, Jane Frackenpohl, provided live accompaniment for the performance of Two Ecstatic Themes.

A video of Two Ecstatic Themes  is provided to the right

 

 

 

Poetic Monologue.  To introduce The Beloved, student Katalin Stupek ’18 performed a dramatic monologue composed of excerpts from several passages that discussed the many ways violence is present.  This monologue was performed from the audience and I had her self-lit with small lights to produce a feeling of ambiguity. 

The Beloved: This dance was choreographed by Lester Horton in 1948 and presents a violent relationship between a minister and his wife caused by accusations of infidelity on the woman’s part. Early modern dance was known for its inclusion of social protest and I strive to promote awareness to problems that are still prominent today through the performance of this work. I staged this duet from Labanotation score on professional male dancer, Lonnie E. Davis and myself. Staff pianist, Jane Frackenpohl, provided live accompaniment for the performance of The Beloved.

A video of The Beloved is provided to the right

 

 

The Tennessee Waltz. This light-hearted interlude served to shift the mood of the concert after the brutal outcome of The Beloved and allow the audience member to breathe and take in the humor in June’s April.  This was performed by staff pianist Jane Frackenpohl, faculty member Qiao Chen Solomon and student vocalist Miller Lansing’17.  During this interlude the stagehands removed Jane from the space mid song and bullied Miller to wrap up so they could continue to set the stage for the next dance piece. 

June’s April: Kristin O’Neal’s latest solo creation portrays the tensely composed, “June” challenged by her cruelest month in June’s April.  Choreographed to a score of 50’s-60’s tunes, the simple rhythms create a compelling rub between shoulder-swaying musicality and emotional constraint.

A video of June’s April is provided to the right

Mishmash Medly for Solo Violin.  This final interlude served to introduce the autobiographical work What Makes You as well as indulge the audience in a beautiful solo violin performance by faculty member Qiao Chen Solomon.  This medley incorporated a beautiful excerpt for solo violin as well as Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York and Strangers in the Night; two works close to my heart as I am a proud New York native and Strangers in the Night is my wedding song

What Makes You: I have always believed that collaboration encourages a unique fusion of sound, image, and movement. This fusion expands the traditional aesthetic modes of expression and establishes a new concept of shared artistic experience.   For this work, I drew from the vocabularies of choreographers (both past and present) who have shaped my dancing, and paid homage to my own personal history as a figure skater, connecting my past with my present because this is what makes you.

A video of What Makes You is provided to the right

Opening In

(full concert)