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Selene Carter
IU Contemporary Dance Program

Elizabeth Shea
IU Contemporary Dance Program

Jennifer Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, April 5, 2010

IU to present original work from choreographers, composers as food bank benefit

WHAT: "Hammer and Nail," presented by the Student Composer Association and the IU Contemporary Dance Program
WHEN: Thursday, April 15, and Friday, April 16; Program A at 6:30 p.m., Program B at 8:30 p.m. both evenings
WHERE: Buskirk-Chumley Theater, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave.
TICKETS: Admission is free. Donation of a non-perishable food item and/or a cash contribution to the Hoosier Hills Food Bank is encouraged. Those who make food or cash donations will receive a special $15 prix fixe menu at Farm Bloomington on the evenings of the performances.

April 5, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- With pieces that range from an interpretation of the game "rock/paper/scissors" to football as a metaphor for human interaction, the original work of emerging choreographers and composers will be performed in the two-part "Hammer and Nail" program on two consecutive evenings at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

rehearsal image

Photo by Aaron Bernstein

IU student dancers rehearse a piece by junior Krissy Jones, a contemporary dance major. Jones created a piece that explores the ups and downs of working in an office, collaborating with composer Mark Oliveiro, a Jacobs School of Music graduate student.

Print-Quality Photo

This year marks the fifth annual "Hammer and Nail" concert, a collaborative effort between Indiana University's Contemporary Dance Program in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and the Jacobs School of Music's Student Composer Association.

Admission is free, and donations of food and/or cash contributions will be accepted for the Hoosier Hills Food Bank. Last year's donations provided the food bank with 512 meals.

The programs are scheduled for Thursday, April 15, and Friday, April 16, with "Program A" starting at 6:30 p.m. and "Program B" at 8:30 p.m. both evenings.

This year has yielded the largest number of participants in the event's history, with 17 composer-choreographer pairings. Each pair will present an original piece of five minutes or less.

On rolling, spinning office chairs, dance major Krissy Jones and choreographer Mark Oliveiro will explore the notion of power dynamics in the workplace. "Chairs are traditionally used in modern dance, but I don't know if I've ever seen one rolling," said Selene Carter, a visiting lecturer who teaches the choreographic performance course required for dance students who wish to take part in "Hammer and Nail."

"There's gliding movement and the sense of the boss, the hierarchy," said Carter of the piece. "It sort of reminds me of a modern dance version of 'The Office'."

"Hammer and Nail" grew out of a collaborative project between Elizabeth Shea, clinical associate professor and coordinator of the IU Contemporary Dance Program, and Jeffrey Hass, a professor of music at the Jacobs School. "We began working together with my choreography and his compositions and we thought, 'Wouldn't it be nice to take a successful collaboration and move it into the student ranks?'" Shea said.

After the inaugural "Hammer and Nail" show in 2006, "everyone actually saw how successful it was and the next year, everyone wanted to do it," said Shea.

rehearsal image

Photo by Aaron Bernstein

Krissy Jones demonstrates during a rehearsal at the IU School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, leading up to the fifth annual "Hammer and Nail," an opportunity for student choreographers and composers to work together.

Print-Quality Photo

Dance students who are eligible to register for Carter's course have already completed two semesters of dance improvisation and two semesters of dance composition. While academic credit is available for participating dance students for just one semester, those who have already completed the class can participate again in the future. Participating composition students are members of the Jacobs School's Student Composer Association.

Carter said the choreographic performance class meets weekly. Students learn the process of creating a dance and working with a composer. "I'm modeling how to receive feedback and how to give feedback," said Carter. "We spend a lot of time on how to be in dialogue with one another creatively. It's lovely to see the dancers support and encourage each other."

Choreographers and composers are initially paired through an event similar to speed dating in which they chat about their ideas for three minutes with each person and then turn in a list of their top three preferred collaborators.

Jacobs School doctoral student Jonn Sokol and contemporary dance student Utam Moses were one of the pairings from last year's "Hammer and Nail" concert. They presented their piece at the American College Dance Festival over spring break in March.

"Each school at the festival brings two works to be adjudicated by dance professionals," said Shea, who selected the piece by Sokol and Moses and entered one of her own. "Just 12 pieces are chosen to be performed in a gala at the end of the festival to represent excellence in the field, and both of our works were chosen." After the performance of the piece by Sokol and Moses, a composer from Grinnell College in Iowa told Shea she wanted Sokol's composition to be performed at Grinnell. "So now a professor and composer want to bring the work of these students from 'Hammer and Nail' to be heard and seen in Iowa," she said.

Carter said that having the opportunity to work with a composer is rare even for professional choreographers. "From my perspective as a choreographer, I never got to choreograph with live musicians," she said. "When I see this concert, I'm just blown away. There's something about the resonance of live music that affects the space. The caliber of musicians is incredible -- and I feel really proud to be able to offer this for the students and the community."