Idaho Dance Theatre explores more movement styles

Winter concert will bring three new works to the stage

January 24, 2014 

  • IDAHO DANCE THEATRE WINTER PERFORMANCE

    8 p.m. Jan. 24-25 and 2 p.m. Jan. 26, Special Events Center, Boise State University. $12-$37. IdahoDanceTheatre.org, 331-9592

Idaho Dance Theatre will stretch and push its repertory by bringing works by three guest choreographers.

NEW VISIONS

Eric Handman's "Good Morning, Midnight" brings a very different feel to the stage with his visceral movement that is grounded in collaboration.

"I'm interested in seeing survival as a group effort - of seeing a high level of care and need for each other in high intensity and at a high velocity," Handman says.

This piece does both effectively.

The dancers work together with speed. They connect physically as they respond to each other's efforts - pushing and pulling, lifting and rebounding off one another throughout the piece.

Handman's "Midnight" is this year's New Visions Choreography Competition winner.

IDT founders Carl Rowe and Marla Hansen created the program last year to bring new choreographers in to work with the company and offer the audience a different experience.

Rowe and Hansen chose Handman's piece out of dozens of submissions.

Handman is an assistant professor of modern dance at the University of Utah, where he created this piece.

He works in an improvisation style, so the idea of restaging a piece was a challenge for him.

"I couldn't imagine teaching this piece before, but this is an amazing company," he says. "They are very fast learners who have an incredible range of ability to see detail and figure things out."

Handman's goal is to draw emotional narrative out of abstract movement, he says.

But saying "narrative" doesn't necessarily mean a story, he says.

"I don't think I really need to tell my stories," he says. "I use the collaboration that goes on in the studio as a way of finding moments of real creativity. That's the real story I'm looking for that gets to an arc that gives the perception of narrative."

That opens the door for interpretation for the dancers and for the audience.

"The tone of the piece is serious, and there is a degree of melancholy, but there is something optimistic about it," he says. "There's a kind of hope that exists in seeing people deeply engaged with one another."

'IF I WERE YOUNG ...'

In Boise, Idaho Dance Theatre's Sayoko Knode is known for her lithe and energetic performance style on stage, but elsewhere she's known for her choreography.

You'll see both sides of Knode at this weekend's winter performance as she performs, then premieres her first IDT piece "If I Were Young ..."

"I actually think of myself as a stronger choreographer than a dancer," she says. "I'm excited to finally get to choreograph for the company."

Knode grew up in Seattle and started her dance studies at Pacific Northwest Ballet. She received her master's in dance from the University of Utah, where she taught the ballet choreography course.

She joined IDT three seasons ago and moved to Boise, where she now lives part time. When she's not performing here, she makes her living as a choreographer in Salt Lake and other cities.

She first created this piece for IDT's junior company, Focus, last year. She restaged it and added a fourth movement for the main company.

"If I Were Young ..." uses music from four different composers that fit together to tell her story - Malaysian singer-songwriter Zee Avi, Norwegian singer Julian Berntzen, indie-folk band Beirut and alt-rock group Muse.

Her piece is very personal as it reflects the changes she's been going through as she's matured as an artist, she says.

"When you grow up as a little ballerina, you think your teens are the prime of life," she says. "Now that I'm older, I feel I hold myself back from opportunities because I think I've missed my chance because I'm too old."

She's finding out that's not the case.

"It's about trusting yourself enough to go further," she says.

'TO LIVE IN THE TRUTH'

Boise audiences know dancer Chanel DaSilva for her powerful performances with the Trey McIntyre Project. Now they will see a different side of her as she steps to the other side of the equation at this weekend's concert.

Since moving to Boise six years ago with TMP, she has choreographed for the youth modern company Balance, IDT's Focus and the Boise Dance Co-op. She originally created "To Live in the Truth" for BDC in August.

"I was so honored when Marla (Hansen) asked me to set it on the company," DaSilva says. "I wanted to remake the piece for them and for them to have their own experience with it. We all just surrendered to the process."

That process opened up a new creative direction for her, she says.

"I never thought I'd be a choreographer. Now, I feel it's something I'm called to do," she says. "The piece just unfolded itself, interestingly and weirdly."

She turned to music that had long inspired her - "Runaway" from The National and "Hopeless Wanderer" from Mumford & Sons - and ended up creating a dance that reflects a slice of her biography.

"I think though you're not aware of it, when you choreograph you end up putting yourself into it," DaSilva says. "Now when I watch them perform it, I can see it is about what I was going through last summer."

DaSilva wrestled with some big issues during the summer - personal changes that helped her understand what she wanted to do next in her life, she says. That led to some big decisions - principally to leave TMP and return to New York City, a decision she made before Trey McIntyre announced earlier this month he is disbanding his company at the end of this season.

Wherever she goes next, she says, choreography will be a big part of what she does.

"I'm excited to see where it leads me," she says. "I'm glad to have the time and space to investigate who I am as a choreographer."

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