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‘Danceworks 2016’ Offers the Best in Dance at Northwestern

Showcase features works by Garth Fagan, Rosy Simas, Maray Gutiérrez and others

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February 22, 2016 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- An excerpt from a larger composition which became Tony and Olivier Award-winning choreographer Garth Fagan’s memorial piece in response to the World Trade Center tragedy, and a work by dance faculty member Joel Valentín-Martínez inspired by the music of American minimalist composer John Adams, are part of the innovative choreography featured in Northwestern University’s annual dance showcase.

“Danceworks 2016” includes a diverse and multi-cultural spectrum of choreographic styles, techniques and voices by some of the country’s top professional choreographers, including Garth Fagan, who won a Tony Award for choreographing the Broadway hit “The Lion King”; Rosy Simas, a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow; Maray Gutiérrez, Hedwig Dances artistic associate; and Northwestern dance faculty members Jeffery Hancock and Joel Valentín-Martínez.

“Danceworks 2016” will be staged Feb. 26 through March 6, at the recently renovated Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. 

Post-performance discussions will take place after the Friday, Feb. 26 and Thursday, March 3 evening shows: 

• Northwestern’s Susan Manning, professor of English and performance studies, and chair of the department of English, will moderate the Feb. 26 opening night post-show discussion, featuring choreographers Joel Valentín-Martínez, Rosy Simas, Maray Gutiérrez and Jeffery Hancock.

• Visiting scholar Amanda Graham, Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies, will moderate the March 3 discussion.

“Danceworks 2016” is part of the winter theater season at Northwestern’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts. It will feature artistic direction by Joel Valentín-Martínez, director of the School of Communication’s dance program, and a 30-member cast of dancers comprised of Northwestern undergraduate and graduate students.

Highlights of this year’s show

  • Garth Fagan, who has received numerous awards during his 46-year career in dance, will bring a sense of clarity and sophistication to the Louis Theater stage during “Danceworks.” His work, “Two Pieces of One: Green,” is an excerpt from a larger composition which became Fagan’s memorial piece in response to the World Trade Center tragedy. It is set to Tony Williams’ “Two Piece of One: Red” and Jan Garbarek and Cristobal de Morales’ “Officium.” (Note: the Garth Fagan Dance company was scheduled to perform at the World Trade Center Outdoor Summer Festival at the time of the 9/11 attacks.)
  • Rosy Simas, a Minneapolis-based dance choreographer and an accomplished contemporary artist, re-examines her work “Skin(s),” in collaboration with the Danceworks 2016 dancers. Simas’ new piece, “Within Our Skin,” set to original music by Francois Richomme, shares the beauty and diversity of how Native people identify. The work also examines the contradictions, pride, joy, pain and sorrow that arise from our many dimensions of identity.
  • Cuban-born Maray Gutíerrez, artistic associate of Hedwig Dances in Chicago, embraces the ideas of dreams -- not as sleep stages, but rather as realities -- in her work “We Insist.”
  • Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Joel Valentín-Martínez’s work, “El Sur Grande,” is a reflection of his roots and experiences. The piece was inspired by the music of composer John Adams and is set to Adams’ “Dharma at Big Sur-A New Day” and “Sri Moonshine.” “As a Mexican migrant living permanently in the United States, I meditate on my time living on the rough waters and history of California,” Valentín-Martínez said.
  • Northwestern’s Jeffery (“Jeff”) Hancock reflects on his personal life and his current state of mind in his work “ellipsis.” The imagery he builds reflects the permanence of impermanence, the landscape of loss and the inevitability and beauty revealed in human nature. It features projected background images and multiple pieces of music from Max Richter’s album “24 Postcards in Full Color” and two works from Richter’s “La Prima Linea.”

“Danceworks 2016” performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3; 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 4; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 5; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at the Louis Theater.

The refurbished Louis Theater now features 288 comfortable new seats, two internal aisles, more wheelchair accessible seating, a reconfigured floor that reduced the rake (sloping angle) of the theater and seating that is broken up into six easy-to-access sections. 

Tickets are $25 for general public; $22 for Northwestern employees, educators and seniors older than age 62; and $10 for full-time students with valid IDs (at the door) or $5 tickets exclusively for full-time Northwestern students on advance purchase only. Discounts are available for groups of eight or more.

For more information, phone 847-491-4819, visit the Wirtz Center website at www.wirtz.northwestern.edu or email wirtz@northwestern.edu or visit Northwestern University’s new Arts Circle website at www.artscircle.northwestern.edu

Topics: Arts and Events