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ISSUE 118 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/4/2005

Dancers slide into "Second Skins"

By Carolyn Albert
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 4, 2005

Audience members at "Second Skins" experienced an evocative sensual exploration of the boundaries between internal and external worlds through improvised dance, music and lighting Feb. 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Dittmann Studio One.

The dance ensemble, consisting of four alumni, one current senior and Assistant Professor of Dance Sherry Saterstrom, thoughtfully involved the audience in their examination of perception, inviting them to become aware of their own skin boundaries and to be drawn into tactile imagery created through movement.

The dance opened with an African drum call as the dancers entered the stage in brightly colored clothing. The highly intentional quality of the movement and bright costumes were accentuated by the improvised lighting of Technical Director in Art/Dance Kyle Carson, who shifted between hues of pink, blue, orange and bright white.

The dancers pulled down giant swaths of fine white netted fabric from the ceiling which they brushed against their skin throughout the performance. Occasionally, the netting’s weblike shadows fell across the floor and its texture was pulled into sharp neon relief by Carson’s lighting.

The fabric was yet another layer of skin, and the performers danced on this created world within their own skins, accompanied by the electronic keyboard music of Sam Lee ‘05 and the percussion of Jeremy Anderson ’05 and Damon Vold ’05. Vold observed that the concept of skin informed his participation. "The heads of the drums are all skins as well," he said.

Dancers Emily Wiedenhoeft ’05 and Denise Gagner ’04 both produced stunningly fluid solos, their arms winding around themselves, exploring their own skin boundaries. Out of these introspective moments swelled magnetic connections in the whole ensemble as the dancers moved between, under and around each other with quiet and somber grace.

Coming into contact with one another, with the floor, the fabric and even the air, the dancers clearly communicated how we all connect with the world around us and the people in it through our skin.

In the piece’s closing section, all of the dancers shed their brightly-colored clothing and wore white fabrics, the textures of which created fascinating visual rhythms among the swaths of white netting.

The ensemble members chose to focus on the themes of hand gestures and pointed fingers, giving attention to the primary vehicle of our tactile interaction with the world.

The electronic swells of the keyboard, along with the creative use of slide whistles, djembe drum, conga and a key ring, introduced a certain disorder to the atmosphere, and eventually the dancers scattered from the stage, ending the performance.

"It was effective when everything was all white, the slowness of so much of the movement giving a sense of flow and contact with the skin," audience member Norm Watt said.

Alumna Allison Lorenzen ’04, a member of the original cast of "Skin" which was performed two years prior to "Second Skins," described this experience as, "Much more sensory than academic and very intuitive."

Lorenzen and Saterstrom both expressed satisfaction with creating an understandable work. "I hope [the audience] found a piece of themselves in the dance, a sensation to go after, a memory, or a piece of the world to feel in a different way," Saterstrom said.

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