Groundbreaking KU dance performance to show in NYC

Fri, 02/28/2014

Contact

Christine Metz Howard
KU News Service
785-864-8852

LAWRENCE – An innovative University of Kansas performance that intertwines contemporary dance with video art is headed to New York City in March.

The piece, titled “human, next” is a collaboration between choreographer James Moreno, an assistant dance professor, and visual artist Benjamin Rosenthal, an assistant professor of expanded media. Covering new ground in the way that dance and digital media intersects, “human, next” examines a subject that isn’t often conveyed through dance: what it means to be human in a digital world.

“Dance is often described as the most human of performing arts because the body is the medium,” Moreno said. “So it makes things interesting when we question that and juxtapose real dancers with virtual bodies and ask the question, ‘What is humanity now’?”

The 12-minute piece, which premiered at the Lied Center in November, will be performed in New York City as part of the dance series the CURRENT SESSIONS: Volume IV, Issue 1. The performance, which will include four KU student dancers, will be March 8-9 at the venue Wild Project in the East Village. The CURRENT SESSIONS is a dance organization and presenting series that showcases innovative contemporary performances from up-and-coming and mid-career choreographers in biannual performances.

In “human, next” the dancers on stage interact with projected images of animated virtual bodies on the screen behind them. The score, created by Rosenthal, is composed of sounds from computer operating systems, including the familiar startup tone of a Mac. Throughout the piece, the live dancers and virtual bodies engage in shifting struggles for control. The audience is asked to question what is real and virtual.

“Those boundaries are becoming virtually indistinguishable, which we think is a really challenging conceptual position to negotiate,” Rosenthal said. “We are questioning if that matters and that the authenticity of an experience, whether it is real or virtual, may be effectively the same thing in our contemporary hybrid condition.”

Rosenthal and Moreno were admirers of each other’s work before the project. Rosenthal has exhibited his work internationally, and Moreno is a Fulbright scholar who has choreographed for the National School of Dance of Panama, Northwestern University and Repertory Dance Theater. Both men were looking for an opportunity to collaborate on a project that drew from other disciplines.

“This is not just another dance,” Moreno said. “It is a complex presentation of different art forms. And the ideas about what happens when technology and the human body intersect are not only treated abstractly but are inherent in the physical process of creating the work.”

The performance in New York City is the first phase of a four-part piece that will ultimately come together as an evening-length work. A new phase will be produced each semester. In phase II, Moreno and Rosenthal plan to incorporate video monitors that dancers will move around and interact with on stage. A parallel component to the ongoing project, Rosenthal’s single-channel version of the first phase of the work — "Human, Next: Phase One" — will premiere early April in a screening curated by artist Darrin Martin at Vanity Projects in New York City.

Following the New York City performance, the six KU student dancers who originated the piece at the Lied Center will perform it at the American College Dance Festival in Chicago.

The first phase of “human, next” was made possible from a grant through the KU Hall Center for the Humanities.



KU in the news
Christian Science MonitorThu, 08/21/2014
Columbia Journalism ReviewThu, 08/21/2014
A researcher with the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark looks for ancient human remains in northern Greenland. Using genetic studies on findings in Greenland, the international research team, which included KU Anthropology Professor Michael Crawford discovered a new wave of migration from Siberia into the Arctic about 5,000 years ago. (Photo credit and copyright: Claus Andreasen) Tags: Centre for GeoGenetics #KUdiscoveries #Anthropology

Favorite if you've had a great first week of classes, #KUstudents ! http://t.co/AE663L0uN4
Poet offers insights to Jayhawk experience through wordplay "Welcome to KU. Where questions rest, in stacks of answers from the past. …" Listen to Topher Enneking, a spoken word poet and former KU football player, as he weaves the experience of KU and its traditions through this storytelling and wordplay performance. Learn more about KU traditions at http://www.ku.edu/about/traditions/. Welcome to KU. Where questions rest in stacks of answers from the past. Where dreams crawl out of bed And learn to walk Uphill both ways. Where freshmen stand on stilts And hang from the rafters, While the wheat waves In a fieldhouse Where the Phog rolls in Helping us to see Through the past into the future. Haunting hosts giving handouts in a heritage Too heavy to grasp til you add to it. So it may be born anew, Allowing our boots to stand in the ash of oppression’s hate But shine bright as the sun While war cries of warriors past Ring in our ears long after their battles are won. Memorials telling time, “you don’t have to stand still.” Because the top of the world Is just up that Hill. Where our natural history is an awe-struck echo Of world’s fair and equal Past, present and future, prelude and sequel. Where our flags fly above planes. Where we build in chalks that can’t be erased. Stone edifices made to last So you would walk Past their doors, down their halls And let your voice fill their room. Because only in empty silence can destruction loom. So stand tall. Wrap your arms around this crowd Sing our alma mater and sing it out loud. Let your voice sing in chorus and reach other nations Beckoning new Jayhawks to spark new collaborations Because you are the mortar that will hold these walls upright. Your future Your dreams are why Jayhawks did fight For the tradition before you Was merely prelude For what will come next now that you’re at KU.


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
1 of 9 public universities with outstanding study abroad programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
$260.5 million in externally funded research expenditures
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times