UW News

May 16, 2016

Aliens, architecture, Beatles and beyond: MFA Dance Concert 2016

UW News

The UW Dance Program's MFA Dance Concert 2016 will be performed May 18-22 in the Meany Studio Theatre.

The UW Dance Program’s MFA Dance Concert 2016 will be performed May 18-22 in the Meany Studio Theatre.Warren Woo

Six new works of choreography by graduate students in the University of Washington Dance Program will comprise the MFA Dance Concert 2016. Performances will be May 18-22 in the Meany Studio Theatre.

This year, themes range from meditations on architecture and war to the physicalizing of verbs and even an alien encounter — with a bit of Beatles and Broadway along the way.

The choreographers each must have at least eight years of professional experience to be admitted into the graduate program, and these concerts merge that experience with the academic and artistic inquiry of the dance program’s rigorous two-year program. More than 50 undergraduate dancers will perform, some also sharing in the process of making the dance, in collaboration with the choreographer.

Graduate student Kyle Craig-Bogard — who has both performed on Broadway and choreographed dancers for pop star Jimmy Buffett — tapped music of the Fab Four, interpreted by Buffett’s guitarist Peter Mayer, to get a retro, 1960s feel for her piece titled “Fly.”

The piece is based on ideas prompted by the music. The title plays on several meanings, she said — “from the hip, ‘fly’ attitude of the dancers, to seeing them literally fly around the stage, to the metaphoric idea of flying.” It also reflects a bit of her graduate school experience: “the frantic pace, the found friends, the frustrations, the challenges.” And, she added, “It’s just fun.”

The other pieces and, choreographers and themes are:

  • “we are the silent weapons of this quiet war,” choreographed by jo Blake together with, he says, “the inspiration of 16 movers and shakers,” that “proposes the idea of change toward progress and individuality.”
  • “Actions to Relate to Oneself,” choreographed by Erin Cardinal, is inspired by visual artist Richard Serra‘s “Verb List, 1967-68.” Cardinal and the dancers have physicalized verbs such as “to fold,” “to swirl” and “to enclose,” set to music by Chopin and Mike Wall
  • “What if the aliens only take me?” choreographed by Leslie Kraus and dancers finds that bravery is needed by young people prior to their “stampede to adulthood.” And that, “Imagining the heavens opening up and an ‘other’ coming to save you from the inevitable is a daydream that is, and should, be indulged.”
  • “Rendering,” choreographed by Julia Burrer explores “how architecture and form lead to recognition” and asks, “When does a form become a body? When does a body become a person? How do bodies arranged in space elicit recognition of a time, memory or feeling?” The dancers explore the questions but, Burrer notes, “leave space for the audience to construct their own interpretation.”
  • “Encender la Luz,” choreographed by Chris Montoya, is a dance in three movements set to the music of Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla that Montoya calls “a true collaboration” with the dancers, “driven and inspired by the nuances of Piazzolla’s music.”

“The MFA concert is both an opportunity for our talented graduate students to hone their choreographic skills and for the audition-selected undergrads to experience a unique creative process and perform in the work that results from it,” said Rachael Lincoln, lecturer in dance and director of the concert.

“Our MFA students — all world-class dancers — have varying levels of choreographic experience. I’m amazed to see, again and again, what strong work our students make, regardless of their specialization.”


Performances are at 7:30 p.m. May 18-21, and 2 p.m. on May 22. Tickets are $10-$18, available online and via the UW Arts Ticket Office, 206-543-4880.