Grand Rapids Ballet artistic director Patricia Barker, recently discussing the company’s season opening MoveMedia program of three 20th Century works created in America, was asked how one restages modern dance works which defy easy description – music has its scores, drama its screenplays; but dance?
“Tribal memory,” Barker answered, explaining that while notes, video and living memory exist, revisiting works such as Gerald Arpino’s “Light Rain” – one of three works on the “Made in America” program – begins with previous presentations of the work but is always influenced by the unique strengths and personalities of the company and its dancers.
If the brief interaction with the works offered in the ballet’s free to the public Inside Look live rehearsal and discussion Sept. 28, the unique personalities of the dancers as well as the unique visions of the three choreographers will be on full display Oct. 7-9 at Peter Martin Wege Theatre.
“MoveMedia: Made In America” features work ranging from classical to neo-classical and contemporary, and will include George Balanchine’s 1935 “Serenade” (the first work by the famed Russian emigre after moving to America) as well as Arpino’s “Light Rain” from 1981, and Paul Taylor’s “Company B,” a truly Americana homage from 1991.
With a deeper appreciation of what some call “contemporary” modern dance, “Light Rain” is the work I am most anticipating experiencing.
Created to showcase the new young dancers of the Joffrey Ballet on its Silver Anniversary, Arpino described his work as “my gift to these talented youngsters … I am inspired by their modes and rituals, their passions.” The work features a contemporary original score by Douglas Adamz and Russ Gauthier.
And it will, undoubtedly feature the unique personalities of the Grand Rapids Ballet’s “tribe”.
The Grand Rapids Ballet, as part of ArtPrize 8 and through Oct. 9, is hosting a UICA-commissioned “in-process” mural by Louise “Ouizi” Chen and photography by Grand Rapids Ballet dancer Isaac Aoki; it will also present its Michigan Dance Festival on Oct. 15 and the ballet’s Junior Company presents “Peter Pan” Oct. 21-23.
For more on the Grand Rapids Ballet’s season, visit