Modern dance premieres on GR Ballet’s stage with MoveMedia series

Robert Dekkers and Vanessa Thiessen will be presenting their new work “Dear Light Along the Way to Nothingness”. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


The modern dance scenes in Chicago and San Francisco are two of a very short list of the world’s incubators of dance innovation, and this week the Grand Rapids Ballet is part of the innovation process as it hosts the latest installment of its MoveMedia series.


Robyn Mineko Williams will present the world premiere of “Gleam”. (Supplied Hubbard Street Dance Chicago/Todd Rosenberg)

Inbound to the ballet’s Peter Martin Wege Theater will be three world-renowned choreographers bringing world premiere works to the stage: from Chicago’s Hubbard Street dance company is Penny Saunders and Robyn Mineko Williams, each with new works, and from San Francisco’s Post:Ballet is Robert Dekkers, who will be collaborating with Vanessa Thiessen on a third new work.


“MoveMedia: World Premieres” will be presented Friday to Sunday, March 10-12, with 7:30 p.m. performances the first two nights and a 2 p.m. matinee on the final day. Tickets are still available for all performances, but the Friday night is near a sell-out.


Williams’ work is titled “Gleam”; Saunders’ is “In Frame”; and Dekkers and Thiessen’s work is “Dear Light Along the Way to Nothingness”.


Now in its seventh year, MoveMedia is “a contemporary dance series featuring dance works merging visual elements of sets, props, costumes and lighting, framed by technology and digital media to enhance the body in space by providing internationally recognized choreographers a creative canvas,” according to supplied material.


Taking full advantage of that “creative canvas” will be the impressive group Saunders, Williams and the duo of Dekkers and Thiessen.


Penny Saunders will present “In Frame”. (Supplied)

Saunders began her professional career at The American Repertory Ballet, has been part of Chicago’s Hubbard Street company since 2004, and in 2016 was the recipient of the Process Grace Choreographic Fellowship.


Williams, originally from Chicago, spent 12 seasons with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, where in 2010 a work co-choreographed with Hubbard Street 2 director Terence Marling her work premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.


Dekkers has been named one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine and in 2013 was nominated for an Isadora Duncan award for “Outstanding Performance — Individual” with the Diablo Ballet. Thiessen graduated from the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre, teaches at Reed College and the Northwest Dance Project in Portland (Oregon), and is the Post:Ballet’s movement director.


For a video of Dekker’s Post:Ballet, visit here … and click on Season VI Highlights.


For more information on MoveMedia, visit .