GroundWorks DanceTheater staging new work steeped in sports passion at Summer Series
July 4, 2017
CLEVELAND, Ohio – A new work of dance is a terrible thing to waste. Especially when it’s a good one.
Hence the program GroundWorks DanceTheater has in store July 14-16 at Cain Park. Stocked with both new work and recent pieces brought back for a second run, the company’s 2017 Summer Series exemplifies a strong commitment to artistic recycling.
“I’m more than happy when a piece succeeds and I find it’s something we should hold onto,” explained GroundWorks artistic director David Shimotakahara. “In performing new work, we’re always taking a risk, and this is a great way of preserving what comes out of that process.”
The first of two works being revitalized is “Inamorata,” a 2013 creation by New York choreographer Kate Weare. Shimotakahara described the piece as “full of mystery,” dedicated to exploring “the idea of love from different vantage points” and set to a soundtrack as eclectic as iTunes itself.
But what’s headed to the stage this weekend isn’t a straight re-staging. With two new dancers in the company and the artistic director out of the mix, the newer account is more of a “rethinking,” Shimotakahara said.
The other revival is Shimotakahara’s own “Chromatic,” from 2016. In that case, one performance simply wasn’t enough. Not after he and his company invested and discovered so much in the piano-roll music of Conlon Nancarrow.
Within the impossibly virtuosic music for player piano, “What I found was playfulness and a kind of lyricism,” Shimotakahara recalled. “It turned out to be a very successful experiment.”
The success or failure of the third and last work on the series remains to be seen. That’s because it’s not a revival. It’s a world premiere. There’s that element of risk again.
Only the risk isn’t all that great. With a new work by acclaimed New York choreographer Monica Bill Barnes, GroundWorks has the modern dance world’s closest thing to a surefire hit.
No highfalutin concepts here. All Barnes said she wants is “for [viewers] to feel that they have more in common with the performers than not.”
It shouldn’t be a huge gap to bridge. In a city that defines itself largely by basketball, baseball, and football, Barnes and crew will mount a work that investigates the passion behind sports fandom, the deep and abiding love for the games, the players, and the drive to win.
“She’s constantly fascinated by what it is people respond to and why,” Shimotakahara said. “She’s really prepared to take apart our assumptions and conventions of what we think of as dance, to achieve that real connection.”
Often, it’s possible in GroundWorks programs to detect a theme. Many times, in fact, Shimotakahara himself is the author of that theme.
Not this time. The 2017 edition of the company’s Summer Series is completely, blissfully theme-less, a joyous parade of dances conceived under disparate circumstances.
“It really just celebrates the differences of each piece,” Shimotakahara said. “In one program, it’s kind of amazing.”
What: 2017 Summer Series
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 14 and 15; 2 p.m. Sunday, July 16.
Where: Alma Theater, Cain Park, 14591 Superior Rd., Cleveland Heights.
Tickets: $25. Go to cainpark.com or call 216-371-3000.