The 16 graduate and undergraduate dancers in the Mills College Repertory Dance Company are performing the Dance Department’s fall show “Past, Post and – Now!” three nights this week.
The show will run in Lisser Hall Nov. 9_”11 and will feature five modern dance pieces by different choreographers, including members of the Mills faculty.
“I tried to bring pieces that were diversified so they challenged the dancers in a different way,” said artistic director of the Mills College Repertory Dance Company and Mills Dance professor Sonya Delwaide. “That’s what I like about modern dance, there are so many ways to approach it. It’s like each person is talking a different language.”
The Dance department performances usually include a piece by an outside choreographer. This year it is Anna Sokolow’s “Session for Six” staged by artistic director of the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble Jim May.
Mills Dance professors Delwaide, Li Chiao-Ping, Tammy Cheney and artist in residence and alumna, class of ’75, Molissa Fenley are also choreographing pieces.
“It’s important for the faculty to choreograph a piece because they teach the technique, so the dancers understand where the movements come from,” Delwaide said. “It will help them with their technique in class, since they are working with me outside.”
Delwaide’s piece is “Draft From the Attic.” It explores the area between the past and the present and is set to Bach’s Concerto No. 5 in F Minor.
“Dance is different,” Delwaide said. “It’s not words, it’s the body talking, and I think that people need to understand that the whole body talks.”
Cheney’s piece is a duet that recreates the experience of being completely overwhelmed by things one cannot control.
“Here lies my body, my body lies here” is Chiao-Ping’s piece. It is set to music created specifically for the piece by Patrice Scanlon in the Intermedia Arts department.
“She’s taken some of my ideas and run with them,” Chaio-Ping said. “They turned out differently than what I expected, but better than what I expected.”
The piece is performed by five graduate students and includes spoken word.
“It’s interesting to see her process of work,” first-year graduate student Melissa Fowle said. “She draws a lot of inspiration, I think, from the dancers. I enjoy the movement, it’s comfortable on my body.”
Fenley’s piece, “Patterns and Expectations,” is set to an original score by Mills music professor Fred Frith.
The dancers started rehearsals for the show at the beginning of the semester. They have been meeting at least once a week to practice.
“I really think in all of us there’s a little passion for dance,” Delwaide said. “A lot of people want to connect; somehow it’s very different from watching a screen.”