CoMotion explores idea of scars in new choreographic work |

CoMotion explores idea of scars in new choreographic work

Four dancers of CoMotion rehearse "Damages: Hazards of Parallel Play," an original dance choreographed by Dance Initiative artist in residence Patrick Mueller. They will perform the piece on Friday and Saturday at the Launchpad.
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |

If You Go...

Who: CoMotion: A Conscious Movement Project

What: ‘Damages: Hazards of Parallel Play’

When: 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday

Where: The Launchpad

How Much: $10 in advance (, $15 at the door

A new choreographic work by Dance Initiative artist in residence Patrick Mueller and contemporary company CoMotion: A Conscious Movement Project explores the stories we tell and the lessons we learn from our scars.

“We started with personal exploration of scars and immediately found there was a filter that was common to three of the five of us,” Mueller said. “Three of us have children. So we looked at scars as a map of our personal history and as our learning experience, and we addressed the topic: Do your kids have any scars yet? And if so, what or why?”

The result of these discussions is “Damages: Hazards of Parallel Play,” a dance that will be performed at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Launchpad.

The piece is challenging on many levels. First, it forced the four CoMotion dancers out of their comfort zones, both in terms of their movement and their thought process.

“Patrick isn’t afraid to take artistic risks,” said Deb Colley, artistic director of CoMotion, associate director of Dance Initiative and one of the performers in “Damages.” “There’s a lot of awkwardness and self-discovery that comes with getting a scar, and he’s not shy about exploring those awkward moments. It all makes a lot of sense, and I think it’s a part of the integrity of the work we’re doing.”

Because of the unconventional choreography, the piece will also likely challenge audience members, especially in Carbondale, where dance is still an artform secondary to the fine arts and music, Colley said. But that’s part of why this performance is so important to the art community in the valley.

“I think people are pretty privy to the processes people go through in the fine arts and the musical arts,” Colley said. “I still see the dance arts being this thing most people here don’t know much about. I think the style of work that Patrick did is on the cutting edge of choreography. It’s in the same vein as what you see in a lot of the dance arts in Europe. It’s not just about tricks and high-powered dance with people matching each other exactly. It’s about content; it’s about artistry. So I think that’s a pretty fascinating and different approach that not many people have been exposed to, even in a valley with such a rich arts culture.”

Mueller’s process is highly collaborative, providing opportunities for all four dancers to contribute bits of choreography to the larger work. He said he uses this method with his professional dance company in Denver, Control Group Productions, and he finds it more valuable than standing in the front of the studio teaching choreography he alone has come up with.

“Our work and process allow for unexpected fulfillment of concepts,” he said. “It allows us to get beyond the standard artist model where one person creates the product from concept to execution. The sum is greater than the parts, is the result. I’m not interested in implementing a vision that’s not a reaction to an evolving situation.”

And the work is still evolving. Although the dancers are ready to present the piece this weekend, they will perform a final version in October. The events on Friday and Saturday at the Launchpad offer a unique opportunity for audience members to view the piece in the space in which it was created, fresh out of the choreographic process.

“There will be an intimacy here,” Mueller said. “I think something happens when you put a performance product on stage: It becomes solidified. It’s distant from us. I think the performance this weekend will be closer to its audience. It will be more touchable.”

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