Artist Interrupted

Taken directly from Utah Artist, Interrupted (a chapter of the national organization Artist, Interrupted)  “is a group of local female dance artists aimed at providing experiences and resources to help women continue their artistic professional development while balancing responsibilities with home and family life.  As women who balance many areas in their lives, this organization is intended to support and provide short-term professional experiences that will offer performance opportunities, education, resources, and a supportive network for women artists to learn from local participants in their communities and continue to develop their artistic interests and talents.”

March 23rd and 24th marked the second conference for the group —  Friday night was the concert ARTiculate at Sugar Space and Saturday included a technique class taught by Robin Konie (play room for children included) followed with a luncheon and discussion with Jacque Bell, Sandy Brunvand, Laura Durham, and Eva Jorgensen.  Unfortunately I was not able to attend Saturday’s activities, but I will speak to the concert on Friday.

ARTiculate was unlike any dance concert I have been to.  First of all there were kids, and lots of them.  And these where real kids, so they squirmed and yelped and did other unpredictable things.  It was refreshing to infuse live performance with this new, raw, and even irreverent energy.  There were essentially 26 works, each taking their inspiration from a letter of the alphabet.  A ‘teacher’ opened the show with a quick lesson about the make-up and goals of Artist Interrupted, and later led the audience through jumps for ‘j’ and stretches for ‘s’.  The show included both live performance and dance films.

There was a strict time limit of one minute thirty seconds for each piece, so while of course no piece could really develop in the way that discerning modern dance viewers expect but this too could be seen as refreshing.  The concert was about providing ‘interrupted’ women with an opportunity to express themselves through movement, and perhaps once again connect to the power, freedom, and joy of the moving body.  While watching, I found myself being able to turn off (or at least turn way down) my inner critic and appreciate a collective of women moving and expressing themselves through a wide range of aesthetics.  Kristine Ward danced a solo (choreographed by Molly Heller), to a soundscore of her young family at dinnertime, all while with her nine week old son snoozed peacefully in a Baby Bjorn attached to her chest.  Elizabeth Hansen performed an upbeat musical theatreish piece with a kite, a huge smile, and an infectious child-like energy and wonder.  Sara Pickett, dressed in an oversized black hoodie seamlessly combined the truncated beat and articulated body parts of hip-hop with the ease and neutral performance quality of post-modern dance.  Kelley Glenn, with strong, specific, yet at times wilting and broken choreography, dressed in a costume and headpiece made entirely of newspapers (that seemed as if it would unravel at any moment), communicated a beautiful,  yet fleeting fragility.

This concert provided dancers, many who do not get to experience dance, choreography and performance on a regular basis, with an opportunity to do all three in a low commitment, low intimidation setting.  Utah Artist, Interrupted is a much needed organization in this state where so many of us still feel, or want to feel, like the dancers we once where, but work, family, or just the logistical practicalities of life are leaving us, well, interrupted.

Erica Womack teaches at SLCC and makes dances. She holds her MFA from the University of Utah.