Wild Space Dance Company brings “Balancing Forces

Kirsten Rusinak

Lawrence is commended for its impressive performing arts programs, but the lack of a dance department can sometimes put a slight damper on this claim. However, Lawrence students have a wonderful, if fleeting opportunity this weekend to take in modern dance.Wild Space Dance Company will present a performance entitled “Balancing Forces,” quite appropriately titled for busy college students Friday, Jan. 18 in Stansbury Theatre.

Wild Space is a Milwaukee-based modern dance company, which has been in residence with Lawrence since 2000. The company’s mission is “to expand the audience for contemporary dance through performances and outreach programs throughout southeastern Wisconsin.”

“Balancing Forces” incorporates dance, text, movement, theatre, live music, contemporary pop songs, and improvisation in order to “explore the wildly dynamic convergence of balance and the forces that hold or release us from that state.”

In effect, the strengths of the Lawrence Conservatory and theater department collaborate to produce an inspiring dance performance. Theater professor Richmond Frielund called the production “a unique admixture of the physical and dramatic, yielding a rich performance event for all.”

Anyone who saw last year’s performance can tell you that any preconceived notions with which they approached the performance were easily dismantled upon seeing the dancers behave as actors.

By communicating with their bodies in relation to one another, moving according to the tonality of voice recordings and exploring obscure topics, it is impossible to know just how to react.

Wild Space’s artistic director Debra Loewen incorporates all these different elements but still maintains the aesthetic quality of the moving human form.

Loewen expressed the desire to use company dancers as choreographers, but still maintains an ensemble approach for an evening long performance. According to Rick Peterson, Lawrence graduate Seth Warren-Crow (’98) “composed several new selections for the project and provides a blend of sampled music and text from various artists with live accompaniment during the performance.”

Current theater students will also benefit from Wild Space’s visit. Movement classes, which typically teach different movements of different forms of dance and the history behind them, are enhanced by Loewen’s presence in the classroom as she “adds to the physical vocabulary of the actors and helps the directors work with patterns of movement,” says theater professor Kathy Privatt.

Privatt said, “Lawrence students should attend the performance because it’s a unique chance to see professional modern dance FREE right on their own campus. That means an evening of performance that explores the expressive body, and an audience member can engage through an appreciation of the movement, through the combination of sound and movement, through a possible story.”

For those who feel intimidated by a dance performance so off-the-wall as “Balancing Forces,” Privatt wished to remind students that “there is no ‘wrong’ observation — dance invites its audience to take in and enjoy!”

The performance begins at 8 p.m. and will take place in Stansbury Theatre. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Lawrence faculty, staff, and students are free of charge.