If you aren’t proud of West Michigan’s performing arts, Grand Rapids Ballet’s MOVEMEDIA is a darn good reason why you should be. A tradition now four years in the running, MOVEMEDIA has earned the company a standout name in the dance community and attracted choreography submissions from five different continents.
MOVEMEDIA I and II are halves of a series featuring contemporary dance numbers that blend technology with modern neoclassical movement. For MOVEMEDIA, contemporary dance is not so much a rejection of traditional movement as much as an emphasis on life experiences, including the choreographers’ personal ones. When constructing a piece, the choreographers strive to create a familiar situation told from a specific point of view. As a result, audiences gain a new understanding of a particular situation or issue after watching each piece.
“What we want the audience to come away with is the idea that they now look at [a situation] from a different perspective or in a different light,” said Artistic Director Patricia Barker. “You can see an artist’s piece of sculpture from one position all the time and just look at but unless you walk around and find the other sides and see the light come through, you’re not looking at it through the light of the sculptor — so this is what we bring — this is what our choreographers do and this is the excitement that our audience feels.”
In order to share each unique vision with the audience, MOVEMEDIA offers its choreographers nearly unlimited artistic freedom in terms of technology and props. Bare bulbs, elaborate projections and even bulky furniture are all fair game. The emphasis is on letting the choreographers have a full arsenal of resources with which to convey meaning as expressively as possible.
While MOVEMEDIA is a performance, it is less of a presentation and more of an inclusion into an artistic discussion. If a particular aspect of a dance sparks curiosity, audience members are encouraged to talk with choreographers, who are often available after the performances. The hope is that the production will not only entertain, but also allow the audience to participate in something that will somehow affect their understanding.
“The one thing that we want the audience to make sure they know is that they are a part of something special—that they’re a part of something that takes them on a journey of some kind, an emotional journey or a sense of awareness, something that awakens in them—it can be thought provoking—something that touches either the past, the present or what they think of for something in the future,” Barker said.
Grand Rapids Ballet Company, Peter Martin Wege Theatre, Grand Rapids
March 13-15, 2 & 7:30 p.m.
April 16 and 17, 7:30 p.m., April 19, 2 p.m.
grballet.com, (616) 454-4771
Other Performing Arts Events
Peter and the Starcatcher
Miller Auditorium, Kalamazoo
March 29, 3 p.m.
millerauditorium.com, (269) 387-2300
Like a playful child, Peter and the Starcatcher transforms a handful of everyday objects into accessories of thrilling adventure. Ropes become doors and a rolling pin becomes a sword in this inventive Pan backstory, where imagination knows no boundaries. Here to tell this whimsical tale is a cast of 12 actors who portray more than 100 nuanced characters onstage.
Reduced Shakespeare Company: The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged)
Wharton Center, East Lansing
March 19, 7:30 p.m.
whartoncenter.com, (517) 353-1982
Known for its extraordinary knack for abbreviation, The Reduced Shakespeare Company boils the evolution of comedy down into a hilarious 90-minute romp. Supreme Court puppets, Looney Tunes songs and audience participants assist this three-man troupe in their noble endeavor to chronicle the history of the belly laugh from caveman jokes to Adam Sandler. Whether you’re a dry-wit junkie or a hopeless slapstick fan, there’s a delicious shade of humor in this production for you.
The Light in the Piazza
Spectrum Theater, Grand Rapids
March 19-21, 26-28; show times at 8 p.m.
$20-$28, student rush: $10
actorstheatregrandrapids.org, (616) 234-3946
A Broadway favorite from the ‘00s, The Light in the Piazza tells the story of a wealthy Southerner named Margaret vacationing in Italy with her daughter, Clara. When Clara unexpectedly falls for a young Italian man, a secret in her daughter’s past prompts Margaret to forbid the relationship. As the young couple’s love persists, Margaret must come to terms with her own convictions about relationships and letting go.