GroundWorks DanceTheater returns to the Akron-Summit County Public Library this weekend for a performance of the Akron premiere of My Hummingbird at the High Line, a commissioned work by guest choreographer Doug Elkins.
Elkins, who recently brought his irreverent, beloved Fraulein Maria through Cleveland for a second time, is renowned for blending ballet and modern dance movement with hip-hop and martial arts. Fraulein was a deconstruction of the iconic Sound of Music. For GroundWorks, the two-time Bessie Award winner and 2012 Guggenheim Fellow explores the ups and downs of love, represented via a stroll along the High Line park in Manhattan, which runs along an elevated rail line on the West Side.
GroundWorks’ Akron performances also will include Allow by artistic associate May Miller as well as Lights Up and Circadian by artistic director David Shimotakahara. Allow, set to music by Oberlin alumnus Alex Christie, has been performed previously in Akron. Lights Up features jazz artists Howie Smith, Bill Ransom and Dan Wilson performing live and focuses on the interplay of dance and music. The duet Circadian, set to music by music director Gustavo Aguilar, explores connections to the rhythms associated with the earth’s rotation.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at 60 S. High St. Cost is $25 for preferred seating, $20 general admission and $10 for students. Call 216-751-0088 or see www.groundworksdance.org.
During a September workshop at the University of Akron dance studios with Elkins, the five-member GroundWorks company explored Elkins’ movement ideas through the concept of contact improvisation, or working against surfaces or bodies. They worked on ways to transfer weight and studied the pinning motions of wrestlers. They also disrupted the flow of force from other dancers by moving their bodies around the limb where the force was applied, rather than responding with the affected limb.
Felise Bagley, who wore knee pads for all the floor work Sept. 22, was spinning around on her back and improvising ways to spiral onto her shoulders.
“It’s a new pathway, so let yourself go,” Elkins told her.
Elkins’ My Hummingbird at the High Line was commissioned with the assistance of Chuck and Charlotte Fowler through the GroundWorks NewWorks Fund. The project was also supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cleveland Foundation and the Kulas Foundation.
GroundWorks, now the professional dance company in residence at Cleveland State University, also has a new dancer, Annika Sheaff. She received a BFA from the Juilliard School and is a four-year veteran of Pilobolus Dance Theater.
It’s a big week for theater openings at Akron schools, with productions of The Bully Project today through Saturday at Miller South and performances of the classic comedy You Can’t Take It With You today through Saturday at Firestone High School.
The Bully Project, part of Miller South’s 20-year anniversary celebration, features 10 10-minute plays that explore the subject of bullying from elementary school through adulthood. Theatrical formats range from circus and Greek myth to comedy and tragedy.
Alumni involved in the production include co-director Robert Keith and alumni actors Pablo Aquart, Krissa Duhon, Jillian Hartline, Hayley Hineline, Sarah Hineline and Emily Markuz, who will join a cast of Miller South students.
Alumna Katie Markovich, a College of Wooster graduate now living in Chicago, wrote the 10-minute play A Brief Conversation and alum Lilly Romestant, now studying at Oglethorpe University, wrote Jasper’s Jewels.
The other plays, published as The Bully Plays, are Barry Kornhauser’s Nobody Nose the Trouble I’ve Seen, Ernie Nolan’s Beasts, Doug Cooney’s Here Be Dragons; D.W. Gregory’s What Goes Around, Gloria Bond’s Clunie’s Blu, Sandra Fenichel Archer’s A Bunch of Clowns, Stephen Gregg’s Happy Birthday Heather Higby (I Am Plotting Your Doom) and Elisabeth Wong’s Flash Mob.
Cost is $10 reserved, $7 general admission, $5 for students and senior citizens. Shows will be performed 7 tonight and Saturday and 9 a.m. Friday at 1055 East Ave., Akron. Call 330-761-3106.
At Firestone Theatre, the high school cast will make the wacky antics of the Sycamore family come alive with its production of the 1937 Pulitzer Prize winnerYou Can’t Take It With You by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. The cast stars Zoe Sapienza and Brian Hirsch as engaged couple Alice Sycamore and Tony Kirby, Morgan Csejtey as mother Penny Sycamore and Max Winer as Grandpa.
Other principal players are Kate Piscetta as Essie Carmichael, David Cardew as Ed Carmichael, Aidan Matney as Paul Sycamore, Will Banno Rothman as Boris, Destiny Hampton as the Grand Duchess Olga Katrina, Rikayla Wright as Gay Wellington, and Jada Langston and Zachary Moeller as the uptight Kirbys.
Director Mark Zimmerman said the comedy was the first play he did at Firestone 17 years ago.
“We’ve had some of our best actors attach themselves to this play. It gives them the opportunity to flex their comedic muscles” for this production, he said.
The cast had an abbreviated four-week rehearsal schedule.
“The kids have had to work really fast and trust their instincts and trust the material and just go for it,” Zimmerman said.
By Kerry Clawson
Beacon Journal staff writer