“Physical Evidence” comes to Lawrence

Jessica Vogt

“A lively and compelling piece,” says theatre arts department head Tim Troy, regarding the Wild Space Dance Company’s upcoming performance
of “Physical Evidence.”
The company will present its second performance of the updated “Physical Evidence” Fridayat 8 p.m. in Stansbury Theatre on campus. The performance goes back in time “literally and figuratively,” states WildSpaceDance.org. The show takes you back to the 1930s dance marathon craze. It also runs backward,
starting with the revealing of the winner and then working back to the beginning of the competition, when the energy of the performers was at its highest.
Dance marathons, popular in the Depression-era 1930s, consisted of weeks and sometimes months of dancing. Audiences were captivated
by the performers’ struggles to make it to the top as well as the concocted storyline entertainers
often created to accompany the competitions.
“Physical Evidence” also incorporates
other elements of 1930s entertainment culture, such as derby races and juggling, which create
a high-energy backdrop for edgy choreography.
“Our performance is inspired by the frenzy and challenge of the dance marathons and what drove people to test the endurance of their body, minds and souls,” said Debra Loewen, artistic director and founder of Wild Space. “Characters are drawn from real-life contestants in a 1931 Milwaukee marathon, with each company member adding personal
touches.”
Troy adds, “The piece explores popular dance idioms – like the Lindy and Jitterbug – through the lens of modern dance,” continues Troy, whose pre-Lawrence connections
with Loewen secured her as artist-in-residence and Wild Space as company-in-residence for Lawrence in 2000. Troy is also currently writing a libretto for the company based on Thomas Aquinas’ corporal works of mercy.
Loewen founded the Wild Space Dance Company in 1986, and has since secured national prestige. Last year, the Wisconsin native choreographed the “Dance of the Forest Sprites” for the Lawrence Conservatory opera production of “Hansel and Gretel.” Loewen and Wild Space dancers currently teach workshops and classes on theater movement at Lawrence, as well as UW-Milwaukee and Milwaukee’s Lincoln Center of the Arts middle school.
“She has a gift for teaching movement to actors and singers,” says Troy, “and we integrate her concepts and approach throughout
our acting curriculum.” Having such a wonderful dance company not only come to Lawrence each year, but also to have its members work with students, is “very valuable,”
he added.
Friday’s performance will also feature excerpts from company
member Katie Sopoci’s recent graduate concert, including pieces accompanied by Meryn Cadell’s vocal poetry.
Tickets for “Physical Evidence” can be purchased at the Lawrence Box Office, at $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. More information about the Wild Space Dance Company is available on their website at http://www.wildspacedance.org/.

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