Middlebury

December 22, 2000

The Dance Company of
Middlebury to Begin Tour on Jan. 24

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.--The Dance Company
of Middlebury's (DCM) annual tour will begin at Middlebury College
with performances of "Riding the Wild Ephemerid" on Wednesday, Jan.
24 and Thursday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Dance
Theatre on South Main Street (Route 30). During its tour, the
ensemble of seven dancers and four musicians will present workshops,
lectures, demonstrations, and formal and informal concerts in a
variety of locations in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in
January and early February.

Under the artistic direction of
Penny Campbell, Middlebury College dance faculty member, and Michael
Chorney, a composer and Middlebury College music director for dance,
all members of the ensemble have been training in the art of
improvisational performance since September of this year. Along with
DCM's dancers, the group's four professional and student
musicians-one current Middlebury College senior, one recent graduate,
and two professionals from the band viperHouse-as well as DCM's
lighting designer, Jennifer Ponder, have all made improvisation an
integral part of their practice sessions.

According to Campbell, much of the
delight in observing improvisation springs from watching the artists
at work crafting the elements of their art form?initiating material,
following through, coping with unexpected developments, and making
choices

"Live performance of any kind is
effervescent, evaporating as quickly as it appears, lingering only in
memory or the altered state of film or video. But improvisational
performance is even more ephemeral, disappearing like a wild thing
never to be seen again. With no predetermined score or content,
improvisation is the most unpredictable art. Its practitioners must
be skilled artists able to create work on the spot and ready for
anything that might occur," said Campbell.

Immediately following its Middlebury
concerts, DCM will travel to Massachusetts to teach and perform at
the Cambridge School in Weston, the Dana Hall School in Wellesley,
Boston University, Tufts University in Medford, and Thorne's Market
Gallery in Northampton, where dancers will appear in a series
organized by Middlebury alumna Jennifer Kayle, an independent
choreographer and dancer working in western Massachusetts. The group
will also appear at Rhode Island College in Providence. In some
locations, a discussion will follow a master class and formal
performance. In others, an exchange with resident students will make
it possible not only to show work but also to view how they approach
dance-making themselves. Events in Massachusetts and Rhode Island
will take place from Jan. 29 through Feb. 3.

The dancers who are members of this
year's Dance Company of Middlebury are seniors Caroline Bodkin of
Salt Lake City, Utah; Sarah Garcia of Guilford, Conn.; Annie
Kloppenberg of Wellesley, Mass.; Bill Manka of Southington, Conn.;
Katrina O'Brien of Mt. Vernon, N.Y.; Alison Robinson of Saugerties,
N.Y.; and Olivia Whitman of Glens Falls, N.Y. The musician members
are saxophonist Darren Case of Kennebunkport, Maine; recent alumnus
percussionist Jared Baird of Akron, Ohio; and viperHouse members
saxophone player Michael Chorney of Lincoln, Vt., and trombone and
double bass player Robinson Morse of Salisbury, Vt.

The Dance Company of Middlebury
reinvents itself each year with a new artistic director, a new cast,
and a new creative focus. This tour marks the third time in 15 years
that the company has configured itself as an improvisational ensemble
of musicians and dancers under Campbell's direction. Designed as a
for-credit course to give serious dance students a taste of
professional dance life, DCM operates much like a small dance
company, developing and touring performance work. After auditions in
the fall, an intensive period of rehearsals under the direction of a
faculty or guest artist director culminates in on-campus concerts and
a short tour.

As varied as the company itself,
DCM's tours over the last 10 years have taken the group to Germany,
the Netherlands, Italy, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York
City.

During the long preparation process,
members of the company train for their dual roles as composer or
choreographer and performer, all the while preparing to demonstrate
those roles simultaneously and in full view of their paying audience.
"Many rehearsals look more like performance than practice. Each
piece asks something different of its performers and teaches some new
bit of wisdom, offering opportunities to stretch out, take artistic
risks, find new forms, new movement, new sound," says Campbell.

Tickets for the Middlebury
performances of "Riding the Wild Ephemerid" on Jan. 24-25 are
available beginning Jan. 10 at the Center for the Arts box office,
open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Reservations are
required for a pre-performance dinner at 6 p.m. on Jan. 24 at
Rehearsals Cafe. To order tickets or make dinner reservations, call
the box office 802-443-6433. Tickets are $5 general admission and $4
for senior citizens. For information about other tour engagements,
contact the dance program office at (802) 443-5245 or 5874, or
campbell@jaguar.middlebury.edu.