Emory Dance presents collaborative look at relationships

By Caitlin Ryan | Emory Report | Nov. 19, 2013

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The Emory Dance Company's fall concert features student dancers with choreography by faculty and guest artists. Photo by Lori Teague.

The Emory Dance Company (EDC) experiments with new viewpoints in contemporary dance in its fall concert, Nov. 21-23 in the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. This concert showcases the choreography of Emory faculty members Anna Leo, Lori Teague and George Staib, as well as guest artists Kristin O'Neal from the University of Florida and Emily Johnson, a current Schwartz Artist in Residence at Emory and director of Catalyst Dance in Minneapolis, Minn.

Faculty and guest artists work collaboratively with student dancers to develop new movement vocabularies through the choreographic process.

Leo's "A Murmuration of Starlings" is abstractly inspired by the comings and goings of birds, exploring the way birds, or people, move in various pairings, groupings and regroupings.

"Slope," choreographed by Teague to music by Philip Glass, celebrates the duality of life as continuous and transitional on one hand and disruptive on the other. In doing so, Teague's piece reflects on human resiliency and the transformative power of movement. Staib's "Nectar" is driven by the desperate need we have for connection, support and reliability from other human beings through a strong use of the duet form.

Johnson, in a work entitled "We rely on our bodies to protest, to protect," explores the connection between effort, function and spirit with original music by Minnesota-based artist James Everest. Over the course of her residency at Emory, Johnson has worked with students of theater and dance in a variety of workshops and conversations, in addition to choreographing for EDC.

O'Neal is restaging a piece originally choreographed in 2012 for students at the University of Florida. "Quiet Vesper" takes its inspiration from a voice recording of O'Neal's brother at 12 years old and from her personal relationship with her siblings. She has restaged this piece several times over the past few years for varying numbers of dancers.

Emily Hammond, an Emory College senior majoring in dance and biology, has performed with EDC every semester. Hammond says she has enjoyed working with O'Neal because she "brings a lot of laughter and intriguing imagery to the rehearsal process." The nine EDC dancers featured in "Quiet Vesper" had their last rehearsal this past weekend. "It was nice to be able to work with Kristin again toward the end of our process in order to ensure that we have maintained the integrity of her piece. This is a rare opportunity when working with guest artists in the company," Hammond says.