The UW–Madison Dance Department’s Faculty Concert Fall 2023 opens this week, featuring work from faculty members Kate Corby, Jin-Wen Yu, Karen McShane-Hellebrand, and Liz Sexe. A new work by guest artist Taryn Vander Hoop in collaboration with student dancers will also premiere at the concert.
The concert will take place over two weekends, from Nov. 16-18 and Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, in the Margaret H’Doubler Performance Space in Lathrop Hall.
The program will include a quartet by Kate Corby that employs improvisation, audience participation, and giant dice, with a sound score by Nat Evans. Every performance of this work will be unique.
Yu will present an ensemble piece, titled “In the World,” that attempts to unravel the human characteristic of uniqueness through abstract movement, attitudes, and gestures.
Karen McShane-Hellebrand explores embodied trauma in her ensemble work for four dancers. The work uses a collage of images and abstract movement to evoke feelings of isolation, even within crowded spaces.
Finally, Liz Sexe will present work based on Charles Dickens’ novel “A Tale of Two Cities” with original music by local music artist Emili Earhart. The work includes a section of duets and a section of larger groups weaving together through space.
Guest artist and UW–Madison alumna Taryn Vander Hoop has been in residence with the Dance Department for three weeks, engaging student dancers in a collaborative process to create a new contemporary dance work while also teaching a variety of masterclasses. Vander Hoop is an assistant professor of dance at Loyola Marymount University and the co-founder, executive director, and associate artistic director of Summation Dance, an NYC/LA-based modern dance company.
Vander Hoop aimed to center her work with students around socio-political issues they care about.
“I just asked them, what do you want to make a dance about?” she explains. The nine students in her piece, who range from first years to seniors, spoke about many critical issues, including gay and transgender rights, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), and the cost of living as compared to the minimum wage. These discussions led to creating a work about using your voice to stand up for your beliefs.
“It’s really about protest and also what society is doing to us, turning us into these bots — and then fighting that,” Vander Hoop says. “But also,” she adds, “there’s so much to scream about we don’t even know where to direct it.”
With less than three weeks from first rehearsal until the first performance, the schedule has been intense and students have been rehearsing six days a week. “It’s hard work, really fast paced, and we all have worked really well together to create movement in a short amount of time,” says Megan Moore, a first year dance and psychology major.
Vander Hoop earned her bachelor’s degree in dance, English literature, and Spanish from UW–Madison in 2008. She speaks highly of the dance program on campus and how it prepared her for her career. “The UW professors are great,” she says. “There’s really rigorous training here, and they bring in really amazing guest artists. A lot of the guest artists that came when I was here are now my mentors.”
Now returning to campus as a guest artist herself, Vander Hoop is able to inspire a new generation of dancers. “It’s helpful knowing that she went here and seeing everything she’s done,” says Devon Henningfield, a first year dance and kinesiology major. “She’s very out there in the world, doing amazing work. It’s nice to have guest artists who have been in the industry come to give us feedback and tell us what it’s really like.”
Tickets for the Faculty Concert Fall 2023 are $24 general admission and $18 for students and seniors. They can be purchased at the Campus Arts Box Office, 1st floor Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street, by phone at 608-265-2787, or online at artsticketing.wisc.edu.
Tickets can also be purchased at the door one hour before performances.
The concert is presented and produced by the UW–Madison Dance Department, which is housed in the School of Education. Taryn Vander Hoop’s residency was made possible with the generous support of the Anonymous Fund.