Second Dance Initiative resident artist to host week of workshops, events
Wednesday, Sept. 9, through Friday, Sept. 11: Open rehearsals from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Launchpad; free
Wednesday, Sept. 9: Presentation and discussion with Molissa Fenley from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Carbondale Branch Library; free
Friday, Sept. 11: Open company class from 10 a.m. to noon at the Launchpad; free
Saturday, Sept. 12: Master class from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Launchpad; $15 per dancer, space is limited
Saturday, Sept. 12: Performance at 6:30 p.m. at the Launchpad; $15 per person, space is limited
Carbondale is about to play host to world-renowned dancer and choreographer Molissa Fenley, thanks to Dance Initiative’s new artist in residence program.
The program kicked off in March with a three-month residency with Patrick Mueller, founder and artistic director of Denver’s contemporary company Control Group Productions.
On Monday, internationally acclaimed New York City choreographer Molissa Fenley will arrive with two members of her company, Christiana Axelsen and Rebecca Chaleff, for a week of open rehearsals, a library talk, classes and a performance.
Over the course of Fenley’s 38-year career, she has produced more than 80 original works that have been performed at the Joyce Theater, City Center, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Jacob’s Pillow and American Dance Festival. She has performed throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Her work has been commissioned internationally, and she has received two New York Dance and Performance (or “Bessie”) awards.
Fenley is using her residency to work on an evening-length piece that’s in several parts, which she will perform in its entirety in New York later this fall. During her time in Carbondale, she will focus on part five, “The Pattern of the Surface,” which draws inspiration from the flow — or lack thereof — of river water.
“It has images of water; it has images of desolation,” Fenley said. “I’m interested in using [environmental issues] as an artistic springboard. I have a lot of pieces I’ve made that have that influence. Nature out of balance is an interest of mine.”
This response to environmental issues has been a major part of Fenley’s work since 1989, when she choreographed her renowned “Floor Dances” in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The 26-minute piece incorporates imagery of birds encrusted in oil and works with the idea of limitation.
Fenley’s week with Dance Initiative will culminate with a performance of “The Pattern of the Surface” and other works at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Launchpad. Tickets are $15.
Peter Gilbert, founder and director of Dance Initiative, said Fenley’s presence in Carbondale happened somewhat by chance.
It started when Gilbert met one of Fenley’s dancers, Christiana Axelsen, at a mutual friend’s wedding a few years ago. Gilbert and Axelsen kept in touch, and when the Launchpad opened and Dance Initiative was ready to start its residency program, he reached out to her to ask if she would consider being one of the artists in residence. Axelsen suggested he ask Fenley instead, so Gilbert went to New York and had lunch with Fenley. The rest is history.
“It’s really exciting to have her in Carbondale to create a work she’ll perform back in New York,” Gilbert said. “It’s a big deal. I’m pleased that we have the space to do it, and also a growing audience. I think more people are realizing that dance and movement are important.”
Fenley is certainly one of the highest-profile dancers that have come to Carbondale. She said she accepted the offer because she wants to share her work in all kinds of places.
“I like, at this point in my life, to say yes to everything,” Fenley said. “I feel that opportunities come in all sizes and shapes. Sometimes it’s an opportunity to go into a small town, meet with some people and be in the dance studio for a week. The three of us being able to concentrate completely for a week without outside things going on is very appealing.”
Gilbert said all the opportunities the Launchpad has offered Dance Initiative, including this residency program, have been even better than he could have hoped.
“This really has exceeded my expectations and dreams of what could happen at the Launchpad,” he said. “It’s really exciting to have a place to host these wonderful dancers and choreographers.”
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