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ISSUE 119 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 3/3/2006

Guest artist's 'Spiral Shift' inspires awe

By Cassie Clark
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 3, 2006

St. Olaf dance students presented a preview of guest artist Mathew Janczewski’s new dance "Spiral Shift" last Saturday in Dittman Art Center.

Janczewski had only one week at St. Olaf to create an entire modern dance piece. The result was a delightful mix of sinuous movement and connection.

Modern dance stems from a reaction against the strict rules of ballet. It emphasizes flow, versatility and openness.

Janczewski said he loves modern dance because of its musicality, groundedness and physical and visceral response to music and movement.

Choreography has always come naturally to Janczewski. When asked how he came up with the movements, he said, "I don’t know. I just follow the process and my gut; things just evolve and then they’re there."

The piece begins with a solo and moves into a group piece. The solo performer gracefully leads the others into a beautiful expression of movement.

The group exhibits connection and support, yet each member breaks into small individual dances. There is a flowing movement that undeniably communes with the music of Evan Ziporyn that plays in the background.

During a response session after the performance, audience members said they had a variety of images come to mind during the piece, including trees, autumn, orange, wandering, and shift between loss of control and regained composure.

The piece reminded Jenny Ingebritsen '06 of “The Magician’s Apprentice” from Disney’s “Fantasia.” “It was like an ocean made of dancers," Ingebritsen said.

Janczewski had only a week to create the piece and teach the dancers. Janczewski does not prepare the dance beforehand. "It makes me feel blocked in," he said.

He created the piece during rehearsals, creating it before the dancers. Janczewski was changing the steps up through the night before the dance previewed.

Many of the dancers felt having to learn the movement so quickly was the biggest challenge, especially since they did not know Janczewski’s style.

But even with only one week of rehearsal, the performance was beautiful.

Audience member Kelly Robbins '07 was amazed that they could not only remember it with all the changes, but perform flawlessly.

Janczewski is the founder and art director of Arena Dances, a "contemporary dance company that strives to present choreography that reaches out to audiences on a visceral and kinetic level.” Janczewski also teaches at the University of Minnesota, Carleton and Zenon Dance Company.

Janczewski is done with the piece and will soon be starting commissions from the Walker Art Center and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Assistant Professor of Dance Heather Klopchin will continue to refine the piece for tour before CompanyDance stages the piece in May.

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