Original music, dance and art in one artful package
Who: Ormao Dance Company
What: A modern dance performance inspired by the art of painter Floyd Tunson and danced to the music of Glen Whitehead
When: 5:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday and 5:30, 7 and 8:30 p.m. Nov. 9
Where: Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale St.
Tickets: $25, $15 students and children; 634-5583, ormaodance.org, csfineartscenter.org.
Next Ormao performance: Spring Concert on April 12-14 Something else: "Floyd D. Tunson: Son of Pop" is on exhibit in the Fine Arts Center during regular gallery hours through Jan. 20.
Collaboration happens. It's one of the engines that drives the arts
Nowhere is its power stronger than in the world of modern dance, in which integration of complimentary disciplines is second nature. Even still, Ormao Dance Company's "Bound Breath" takes this act of synergy to a new level of expression.
Necessity has played a part in that, Patrizia Herminjard says, but it's not the only reason dance thrives in such environments.
"We collaborate with musicians, with video artists, other choreographers... for the pure joy of collaborating and the richness of what comes out of combining different peoples' strengths," says the artist-in-residence in dance at Colorado College. This work marks the first time Herminjard's choreography will be featured in an Ormao concert.
The performance grew out of "Floyd Tunson: Son of Pop," a retrospective of the local artist's work now on display at the Fine Arts Center. Discussions between Jan Johnson, who is Ormao's founder and executive director, and FAC curator Blake Milteer led to a novel idea: produce original choreography inspired by Tunson's artistic vision. The results would be danced in the gallery space where they currently reside.
In July, Johnson brought together select choreographers and her choice of composer, Professor Glen Whitehead, who is director of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs music program. Milteer walked them through exhibition spaces with photos of Tunson's work as a guide.
"He gave us a description of the work and in what physical-and-thematic grouping they would be in," Johnson says. "He's been following Floyd for years so he's pretty well versed in (his work). The way that he described the imagery in the work -- flowing, multi-layered ... It's the same language we use in choreography."
The concert features five original works from as many choreographers, all built around specific Tunson works. Johnson choreographed “Sentience,” “Bound Breath” is by Stephanie Kobes, chairwoman of the Pikes Peak Community College dance department. Emily Ford is a company member who created “Interstices.” Ila Conoley, who left PPCC for a teaching position at the University of Texas at El Paso, contributes “unrecognized beauty.” Herminjard's "Trace" will open the performance
"I set it up so that the moment the audience comes into the Fine Arts Center there will be dancers that are moving," she says. "We're taking away the notion of (the) 'curtain rises.' ... The audience is free to notice my dancers, ignore them or to check in from time to time- just like you were in an installation in a museum. It will be more meditative, more like the way you journey through a museum."
Herminjard used Tunson's 'Haitian Dream Boats,' for her primary muse. She'll place a trio of dancers adjacent to the artist's wooden framed boats and painting. "On the most basic level, this piece is about one woman in three different stages of her life," she explained. "We'll have three women with longer hair and similar coloring- one in her teens, one in her thirties and one in her sixties. It also corresponds to Floyd's body of work and how he's changed over time."
To realize her work, Herminjard uses junior company member Oksana Kuzma; Mary Ripper Baker, who has worked with Ormao since 1999; and Debra Mercer, her former teacher at Colorado College, who is the ballet master for Ormao and has been a featured guest dancer since 1994.
"We all move very distinctly -- our own movement, mannerisms, tracings," Herminjard explains. "How we move is how we move, like a fingerprint.
"Debbie moves slower than Oxana who's 16. I can't get her to move slow enough because it's just not part of her right now. Mary is stunning. She's at the height of her dance, where the movement she does is the most 'realized.' I love the juxtaposition of these three women. They can do the same movement and look totally different."
Whitehead uses recorded interludes and a live trio, which includes Whitehead on trumpet, percussionist Randy Bowen and bassist Lee Gardner.
"We looked at the whole environment and stripped away any preconceived notions of standard performance practice," Whitehead recalls. "That suited the project. We redefined what a musician was. Everyone had a creative part in the process."
Ormao, he says, was open to everything he threw at them.
"I haven't encountered that before. People are usually trying to be in control. They've worked together exploring the traditions of modern dance and now they are basically free.
"They simply create with all their knowledge."
Whitehead was moved to produce a new musical language, which he felt matched the Tunson's vision. "It's a world-music approach through the discipline of improvisation. There are a lot of different things from a lot different influences. There is jazz, classical music, world music and an experimental influence.
"Floyd's work lends itself to this because there are cultural references. There's a kaleidoscopes of things all working together and the architecture is all very musical."