A lustrous look at a duo's decade of dance

By Emma Yarbrough | Emory Report | Feb. 22, 2013

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Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass in "Luster." Photo By Mallory Rosenthal.

New York choreographer and dancer Monica Bill Barnes has been collaborating and performing with Anna Bass, member of Monica Bill Barnes & Company, for over 10 years.  

This decade-long relationship provides the basis for "Things you can't do on the radio," a new work-in-progress presented by the Emory Dance Program Feb. 28-March 2 in the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. The latest installment of Emory's 2012-2013 Candler Concert Series, "Things you can't do on the radio" is an evening-length duet celebrating the pair's time together in the spotlight.  

Says Anna Leo, associate professor of dance: "Many words come to mind when thinking about [Barnes and Bass] together: artistic sharing, friends at heart, professional honesty, fun, poignant, funny, sometimes finishing each other's sentences or filling in the gaps for each other."  

Leo spent several days watching Barnes and Bass work together during a fall workshop for Emory dance students. "The energy that connected these two was not like anything I have ever seen," Leo recalls, "and the positive current that ran between the two of them was infectious."  

While a portion of this piece first premiered at the American Dance Festival in July 2012 under the title "Luster," the Emory concert is the first showing of the full work in progress. It combines autobiographical elements of the two's creative life with themes of endurance and triumph to produce a work of contemporary dance that, like all of Monica Bill Barnes & Company's creations, celebrates individuality, humor, and the innate theatricality of everyday life.  

A "talk back" with Barnes and dancers will follow the Feb. 28 performance, which is one of the signature events of the Schwartz Center's 10th anniversary celebration.