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Doug Booher
Indiana University Auditorium

Jennifer Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, January 26, 2009

MacArthur Foundation 'genius' Liz Lerman, dance company to spend 10 days in Bloomington, Indy

Series of events, workshops wrap up with IU Auditorium performance, post-show discussions

WHAT: Ferocious Beauty: Genome
WHEN: Feb. 26, 8 p.m.
WHERE: IU Auditorium
TICKET INFORMATION: To purchase tickets to Ferocious Beauty: Genome, see:, stop by the IU Auditorium box office at 1211 E. Seventh St., call 812-855-1103, or e-mail Ticket prices range from $13-$23 for IU students and from $25-$33 for the general public.

Jan. 26, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Touted as "expansive and provocative" by the Washington Post and "Captivating, surprisingly funny, intensely moving" and "thought-provoking," by the Chicago Sun-Times, the multimedia modern dance performance Ferocious Beauty: Genome comes to Indiana University Auditorium Feb. 26 at 8 p.m.

IU Auditorium will host the show's creator, internationally known choreographer Liz Lerman, and the Washington, D.C.-based Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, for a 10-day residency from Feb. 17-27. The residency will feature workshops, panels and symposia that culminate with a performance of Ferocious Beauty (followed by post-show discussions Feb. 27).

Liz Lerman

Liz Lerman

"In addition to providing entertainment for people of all ages, one of our missions at IU Auditorium is to offer meaningful, educational programming that inspires and uplifts our community," said IU Auditorium Director Doug Booher. A New Perspectives grant (from a New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities grant) and IU Auditorium are supporting Lerman and her dance company to stay in town for 10 days.

"The events and performances surrounding Liz's visit will make an incredibly positive impact on this community," Booher said. "At the public events (in both Bloomington and Indianapolis) leading up to the Ferocious Beauty performance, people are invited to have in-depth conversations about issues such as social justice, successful collaborations, the role of arts in public service and creating community."

Lerman developed Ferocious Beauty in collaboration with arts organizations and science programs. In addition to demonstrating the beauty of the scientific process, this work raises some of the implications of human genome research -- aging and death, the market for human perfection, identity and ancestry.

"In choosing the subjects and sections (for Ferocious Beauty), we employed an idea that I have come to call 'nonfiction dancing,'" said Lerman. "This is a way of developing and presenting content for a dance that parallels how one might read nonfiction -- or at least how I read nonfiction. It allows for deep, absorbed comprehension, but also for skimming, and for what I call the 'I Ching' method: randomly opening to a page and picking up the thread wherever the eye falls. Through this process, we arrived at the same things a reader can gain from nonfiction: amazing stories, details, specificity and the benefits of research that someone else has done for us."

Each performance of Ferocious Beauty uses a variety of formats that include panels, symposia and workshops to create conversations between community members and academics; artists and scientists; ethicists, philosophers and policy-makers.

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange

Lerman and her dance company are returning to Bloomington after spending several weeks here in the fall, all courtesy of two IU New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities grants, written by Liz Shea, clinical assistant professor and coordinator of the IU Contemporary Dance Program, and Anya Peterson Royce, Chancellor's professor of anthropology and of comparative literature at IU.

"The residency with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange has been a real education, not only for our modern dancers, but for the Bloomington and university community," said Shea. "Liz's unique approach toward contemporary art, and her ability to harness the creative energies of both trained artists and community contributors, is quite amazing. She has truly led dance to the cutting edge of art-making, while at the same time continuing to extend a hand to everyday movers and audience members. Liz sets the bar high for all artists, and forces us to ask ourselves for whom are we making art, and what about it is important."

Royce said the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange -- an eclectic group of multigenerational, multiethnic dancers from people in their 20s to those in their 70s -- focuses on collaboration and community, two themes of particular relevance to Bloomington.

"The Dance Exchange extends its collaborative process to include audience members, academic institutions, community organizations and individuals. In reaching out in this way, the Lerman company has brought all sorts of people and institutions together to form unique communities," Royce said, adding that Bloomington panels and workshops will take place everywhere from WonderLab to Hillel to the Crestmont Boys and Girls Club.

"In the 10 days of the wide-ranging events, we hope to generate conversations that will enlighten and open new ways of thinking about and seeing the world," said Royce.

"In the end, I hope the performance is like a great nonfiction read," said Lerman. "Although the structure of concert work means that you can't exactly skim, I do think you can allow your attention to dive in and out and to meditate or rest in between. We have designed the piece to let the scientists speak for themselves, though subject to our editing. We chose the ideas to highlight through long conversations among ourselves, with the scientists and with the public."

The performances coincide with IU's 25th annual Arts Week (Feb. 19-March 1) and celebrations surrounding the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's famous book Origin of the Species.

Ferocious Beauty: Genome events are all open to the community and many are free of charge. The events include the following:

Tuesday, Feb. 17, 10 a.m. to noon (HPER Dance Studio, Room 161, IU Bloomington campus): "The Choreographic Process: Creativity, Collaboration, and Who Gets to Dance." Based on IU's modern dancers' experience of working with Lerman's choreographers and dancers in the fall of 2008, this will be a conversation and demonstration of the process of creating and performing collaboratively.

Tuesday, Feb. 17, 5 p.m. (Helene G. Simon Hillel Center, 730 E. Third St.): "Workshop on the Role of the Upstander." This workshop will bring together members of Hillel and Beth Shalom with Liz Lerman and her dancers around the topic of creating community across difference and standing up for social justice.

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 10 a.m. to noon (Hutton Honors College, 811 E. Seventh St., Grand Hall): "Perfection and Imperfection in the Age of the Genome." What ethical, philosophical and scientific implications arise from our increasing knowledge of biotechnology and the genome?

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 4:30 p.m. (Hutton Honors College, 811 E. Seventh St., Grand Hall): Informal meeting and conversation about the idea of an Arts Corps. This conversation will explore the role of the arts in public service. What do the arts have to offer and how might we create a model for a national corps? Followed by a workshop with Hutton Honors students.

Thursday, Feb. 19, 10 a.m. to noon (Stone Age Institute, 1392 W. Dittemore Road ): "Darwin, the Arts, and the Aesthetics of the Ordinary." What does Darwin tell us about symmetry and the aesthetics of nature, and how is this realized in the arts -- visual arts, photography, poetry, and dance, and the work of scientists?

Sunday, Feb. 22, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. (WonderLab, 308 W. Fourth St.): "Dancing Genes and Kinetic Sculpture." This interactive performance workshop is geared especially toward children ages 9-15 and features dancers from the Lerman Company, who will introduce concepts of dance and science. Children will also have the opportunity to create "kinetic sculptures" as a part of WonderLab's Science of Sculpture program. There is an admission fee to Wonderlab.

Monday, Feb. 23, 10:30 a.m. to noon workshop, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. panel discussion (Fountain Square Ballroom, 101 W. Kirkwood Ave.): "Re-Membering Our Bodies: Exploring the Intimacies among Memory, Movement, and Sound." How does movement and sound place us in a world we will remember? This is a panel in conjunction with a movement workshop for community members.

Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2 to 4 p.m. (Fairbanks Hall, IUPUI Campus, Indianapolis, 9292 N. Meridian St., Suite 304): This workshop, "Tools for Community/Tools for Art" examines the relationship between creative processes in dance and community building.

Wednesday, Feb. 25, 10 a.m. to noon (IU Auditorium, 1211 E. Seventh St.): "The Art of Technology in Staging Ferocious Beauty: Genome" panel will examine the role of technology in performance.

Thursday, Feb. 26, 8 p.m. (IU Auditorium,1211 E. Seventh St.): Performance of Ferocious Beauty: Genome by Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. Admission charged. Tickets available at IU Auditorium Box Office.

Friday, Feb. 27, 9:30 a.m. to noon (IU Art Museum Conference Room, 1133 E. Seventh St.): "The Art and Science of Genome Research," a final panel conversation on what we have learned from the ten days of panels, workshops, conversations and the performance.

Feb. 17-27 (Hutton Honors College, 811 E. Seventh St., Grand Hall): Special exhibit of Rudy Pozzatti's prints from The Bestiary accompanied by the new edition of Darwin's Ark (2008).

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange

For three decades, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange has taken an innovative approach to its work, defining dance as a multi-generational and multi-disciplinary art form that combines movement, music, video and the spoken word. In this two-act piece, which premiered in 2006 after three years of collaborative research with a team of scientists, ethicists and other artists, Lerman's troupe presents a thought-provoking tapestry of sight, sound and movement that explores both the promise -- and the threat -- of the new biological age. For more information, see

IU Auditorium

Since opening its doors in 1941, IU Auditorium has served as a university and community gathering place, hosting a diverse array of world-class artists, entertainers, musicians and lecturers in an opulent 3,200-seat theatre. The IU Auditorium Box Office is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets for all Auditorium events are also available by phone at 812-855-1103 and online at For a complete list of IU Auditorium events and more information our current season, visit