Dance students from Missoula twisted their way through a new routine in the PAR/TV Building at the University of Montana Sunday.
Amber Moon Peterson, one of three choreographers for the Cohesion Dance Project, led them through a warm-up in preparation for a class that was part instruction and part audition.
“You all looked great,” Peterson said after a series of leg swings, balances and foot arches.
“You look scared, but you shouldn’t be.”
The Cohesion Dance Project, a nonprofit production company founded in 2012, will present “Resonance — An Evening of Art Inspiring Art” Thursday at the Dennison Theater. Those attending the class Sunday have an opportunity to join the six professional dancers at Thursday’s performance.
“Resonance” consists of contributions from 11 artists from around the country, and debuted in Helena last spring. Cohesion Dance Project founder and director Tanya W. Call developed the show over a period of six months, stemming from steel sculptures created by Helena-based artist Richard Swanson. Call, who is also one of the choreographers, asked Swanson to create pieces that the dancers could interact with on stage, that could be rocked back and forth, and could hold their weight.
“The sculptures were the foundation,” Call said.
“But then we asked all of the artists to create something original, but inspired by the other artists.”
The result is a combination of dance, music and poetry, all centered on the three looping steel pieces provided by Swanson.
“For this year’s show, we've expanded a little bit of the choreography, and expanded on the music,” Call said.
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For the show’s second year, Call decided to take the production company on tour for the first time, with shows in Helena, Missoula and Great Falls. She, Peterson and third choreographer Julynn Wilderson also decided to open up five to six dancing roles to local artists who wanted to apply.
“It adds an extra bit of excitement to the project, especially since they only have a few days to learn it,” Peterson said.
Call said it also embraces inclusion, which stemmed from her experience of leading an adaptive dance program in Albuquerque, where people of any age and any ability had the opportunity to express themselves through dance. “Shira Greenberg's Nutcracker on the Rocks,” the company’s annual flagship production, combines a cast of 80 dancers, ages 7 to 77.
“It all just goes to dance being a universal language that lets anybody speak,” Peterson said.
Seven people came to the master class and audition Sunday, with the majority either majoring or minoring in dance at the University of Montana. Call hopes to be able to use six of them for “Resonance.”
“If this works out, I’m really excited to meet the other artists. It’s pretty rare for a touring dance production to come to town,” said 22-year-old Ruby Roberts.
Local musician Nathan Zavalney will also contribute to the show’s music composed by New Mexico artist J. Stuart Smith, which combines guitar, keyboard and percussion.
The chosen dancers will have three more rehearsals until show time in the Dennison Theater at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at http://www.umt.edu/griztix/ or at the door.