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The Jenkins Farm Project Takes Reflective Look at Great Depression

Annie Beserra’s newest dance work based on true stories of her North Carolina ancestors

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April 27, 2012 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- “The Jenkins Farms Project,” a multi-media dance theater work,

reflects the real stories of hardships experienced by choreographer Annie Beserra’s ancestors in North Carolina during the Great Depression. Conceived and choreographed by Beserra, the work will be staged on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus in early May.

The production is co-presented by the School of Communication’s dance program and Striding Lion Performance Group, a Chicago-based dance theater company of which Beserra is artistic director. Performances will take place at 8 p.m. Friday May 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 5, in the Ballroom Theater of the Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center, 10 Arts Circle Drive

The granddaughter of Annie Lee Jenkins, Beserra has transformed the stories of her North Carolina farming family into a dance work that questions the meaning of home, family, memory and mental illness. In movement, text, video and music, it captures the longing and conflict bound to the history of the Jenkins home and the secrets that are buried there.

Beserra’s hourlong work is a remount of a piece originally created in 2008. It was developed in collaboration with Chicago composers Colby Beserra and Matt Reed, a scenic and projection artist, and dancer/actors Michaela Federspiel, Calyn Guberman, Ericka Lashley, Todd Lahrmann, Amanda Exley Lower and Monica Thomas. 

It is set to an original bluegrass/blues/hymn and folk-inspired score composed by Colby Beserra and Matt Reed. The production includes a video component using home movies, interviews and historical images of the actual farm that inspired the dance work. It is being performed at the Viaduct Theater in Chicago through April 29, prior to its Northwestern run.

Annie Beserra is a member of Northwestern’s dance program faculty.

Colby Beserra is a resident director for the Albany Park Theatre Project, an award-winning, nationally recognized teen theater ensemble based in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood. For more on Beserra, visit www.greatlifemusic.com/about/colby/.

Matt Reed is an actor, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has been working professionally in the Chicago area since childhood. For more on Reed, visit www.mattreedmusic.com.

For more information on the Striding Lion Performance Group and “The Jenkins Farms Project,” visit www.stridinglion.org.

Tickets are $12 for students and $15 general admission. Tickets are available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/230303. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door, a half-hour prior to both performances.

Topics: Campus Life