April 17, 2014

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Oberlin dispels the rage with dance

OBERLIN — When Nusha Martynuk first conceived the original production “Dispelling the Rage: Generations,” she strived to create a unifying environment with the overriding theme of getting along.

Marya Barrios, a student at the Oberlin Conservatory, performs as part of “Dispelling the Rage: Generations.” The work will be performed 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday at Hall Auditorium in Oberlin.

Marya Barrios, a student at the Oberlin Conservatory, performs as part of “Dispelling the Rage: Generations.” The work will be performed 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday at Hall Auditorium in Oberlin.

“I wanted to bring together a lot of the diverse populations and the very diverse interests of our very talented Oberlin students who work in hip-hop and jazz, and modern and contemporary, and improvisation and composition,” said Martynuk, who is the Oberlin College theater and dance director and the production’s artistic director.

“All of these students are always making war, and I felt it would be very exciting to give them a challenge and say we come to know each other best when we work together, which is true in dance.

“The physical act of embodying a form of dance, learning someone else’s choreography and giving yourself over to that process teaches you a great deal about the person, their aesthetic, what’s important to them about the form. So I thought it would be a really interesting challenge to all of us to say, ‘Let’s all work in our different forms but work toward one common goal — that being this one evening-length piece.’”

“Dispelling the Rage: Generations” joins eight choreographers to inspire and inform one another’s creative processes to construct one unified performance.

From capoeira to swing dance, this event will unite a wide spectrum of dance styles, skills and processes. Fused by the composition skills of Oberlin College’s Technology in Music and Related Arts (TIMARA) musicians Katherine Buono and Christopher Pierce, this year’s performance promises to offer an evening filled with attitude, passion and deep personal connection. In addition, Justin Emeka, visiting assistant professor of theater, is collaborating in creating the dance piece.

In approaching “Dispelling the Rage: Generations,” Martynuk said she asked the various choreographers to consider their dance-making process in relationship to the form of dance.

“If you dance hip-hop, that makes a statement in your body that is different than if you dance contemporary dance,” Martynuk said. “So the overall theme is that each choreographer needs to think about how they express themselves through this form and what is your relationship to this form. Why do you engage with it? So everyone has come up with their own unique statements, and the through line is the uniqueness of each person’s voice.

“That’s why I called it ‘Dispelling the Rage’ because I think when we get to know each other and when people work together, the kind of unity they find in that collaborative can overcome just about anything. Also, I called it ‘Generations’ because I’m old enough to be their mother, and I think that generational shift makes a big difference in the work we do, too.”

While on the surface “Dispelling the Rage: Generations” is an evening of different types of dance, Martynuk is optimistic the end result will be one of unification.

“I think what happens is different people will relate to different aspects of the performances,” Martynuk said. “When you go to a music concert, you don’t try to understand the music, you relate to the music on a visceral level and you relate to it on an emotional level. I think the same thing is true for dance and certainly this concert.

“So some of the pieces make you think more, while others make you want to get up and dance. I think everybody relates to it in a different way — and in their own way — based on their previous experience and what rocks their world.”

“Dispelling the Rage: Generations” will be performed 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Hall Auditorium, 67 North Main St., Oberlin.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for students.

For more information, call (440) 775-8169 or visit oberlin.edu/artsguide/tickets.