Dance Initiative artist in residence choreographs ‘Vacuum’ |

Dance Initiative artist in residence choreographs ‘Vacuum’

Deborah Colley, Kirsten Frantzich and Emily Fifer rehearse "Vacuum," a dance choreographed by Alya Howe, Dance Initiative's final artist in residence for 2015.
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |


Who: Alya Howe, Emily Fifer, Cynthia Gottlob, Sean Ericson, Deborah Colley, Kirsten Frantzich, Meagan Londy Shapiro, Krysia Carter-Giez

What: ‘Vacuum: A multimedia performance’

When: 8 p.m. on Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday

Where: The Launchpad

How much: $10 at the door

When local dance artist Alya Howe was invited to be Dance Initiative’s third and final 2015 artist in residence, she was tasked with choreographing work that would draw in and relate to the community. Little did she know a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond would provide just the inspiration she needed.

At the department store, she saw the programmable robotic vacuum cleaners called Roombas, and she thought they might make for an interesting chorus of dancers. Vacuuming is something everyone can relate to, she thought, and she was intrigued by the visual of dancing Roombas.

But after talking to people in the community, she learned most did not own Roombas. So she tweaked her vision while keeping the main idea and created “Vacuum,” a multimedia dance performance that will take place at the Launchpad on Friday and Saturday.

“It became a metaphor: How much junk do you carry around in your life that clutters you from being able to do what you want to do?” Howe said. “Sometimes there’s just not enough space. It’s about cleaning, decluttering, making space. You only get one life. It’s not a rehearsal.”

“Vacuum” consists of a solo by Glenwood Springs dancer Emily Fifer; an Argentine tango by Sean Ericson and Cynthia Gottlob, a former ballerina with the Joffrey Ballet; and a “vacuum choir” consisting of Fifer, Deborah Colley, Kirsten Frantzich and Meagan Londy Shapiro.

The performance will also feature a short film by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Krysia Carter-Giez, in which community members are interviewed alongside their vacuum cleaners.

Howe’s dance career may be unknown in the valley, but she danced professionally with the Jose Limon Dance Company NYC, served as a faculty member at the Laban/Bartenieff Institute and has performed with renowned tabla player Zakir Hussain. Her works have been performed internationally.

Howe said she’s grateful for the opportunity afforded by Dance Initiative to create this work. She said Dance Initiative has a great focus on making dance accessible in the community, and she wanted to do that mission proud.

“That was one of the main things about this piece, is that I want it accessible,” she said.

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