This spring, the dance show has been re-imaged. Changes include a more intimate setting, fewer dancers, and the fact that the performers interact and dance with 156 separate planks of wood.
"Constructions," which begins on April 9, is centered around both dance and sculpture, and the ways in which the two arts are related. The dancers are members of Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced Repertory and Performance classes.
Sculptor Wade Kavanaugh '01 designed and made by hand 156 plywood I-beams of different lengths for the show. Though the beams fit together to create a perfect stack, they are not typically seen in this formation during the show.
"They are put together in a huge number of possibilities by the dancers," said Professor of Dance June Vail. Some of the beam configurations that dancers create include a mound, beams washed up on the shore like driftwood, a vertical forest of beams, and beams laid flat, making a series of steps.
"The dancers are working with the construction elements in various ways," said Vail. "They are playing with space and various rhythms."
In addition to challenging and engaging with the dancers' choreography, interacting with the beams also demands strength.
"It's quite athletic because they are moving these things around," said Vail. Though the beams are "not terribly heavy and pretty well-balanced, it's not fun if one falls on your foot."
Vail said that the configurations in the show demonstrate the connectedness of dance and sculpture.
"They really share certain concerns," she said. "They are both playing with 3-D space in certain ways, and are both interested in rhythm."
"One is a visual rhythm and another is a bodily rhythm," she added.
In addition, the use of the beams during the dances demonstrates how both art forms are concerned with mass and weight. Though weight is something that dancers constantly negotiate as they move, the choreography highlights how sculpture, too, takes up space.
"The I-beams in the cube are weighty-looking," said Vail. "When they are separated, they don't have that sense."
"Having to relate to the sculpture as a dancer is a new experience," said Willi Yusah '08. "I've never had a four-foot wooden I-beam as a dance partner before. It's a pretty stiff, and oftentimes unforgiving, companion."
Rakiya Orange '11 said that the weight and shape of the beams has influenced the way in which the dancers move.
"It's interesting to see people dance with the wood because I feel like it is a carefulness to it," she said. "They don't want to be hurt by the I-beams so they handle them very delicately."
"It has been very challenging at times figuring out what do with so much wood, but at the same time it forces the dancers and the choreographers to think in a different light," added Orange. "I am the type of person who loves to break the mold from the norm and 'Constructions' this semester has definitely done that."
In addition to dealing with weight, Vail said that both dance and sculpture are process-oriented, and art is often created through experimentation.
"You'll be pleasantly surprised what we can do with a couple hundred wooden I-beams," said Yusah.
"It's not as if dance is choreographed separately from trying things out," Vail said. "The same is true of Wade's working with sculpture... It's not a preset, it sort of organically evolves."
According to Vail, various assignments of space required that the Spring Dance Show take place in the black-box Wish Theater, instead of its usual Pickard Theater venue.
"We usually fill Pickard for three nights," said Vail. In order to accommodate the smaller space, the show will just feature performances from the three repertory classes.
"The number of seats is cut from Pickard's 550 to only 65 seats," said Vail. "We are telling people that they need to get there early."
In the hope of allowing as many audience members as possible, "Constructions" will run Wednesday April 9 through Saturday April 12. The shows will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday, with an additional 3 p.m. matinée performance on Saturday.