On September 4 and 5, 2013 Old Dominion University presented “Rituals”, an original modern dance concert featuring the works of dance department faculty members. “Rituals” is the collaborative efforts of professors and producers, Amanda Kinzer and Marilyn Marloff with an additional piece choreographed and performed by professor Rachel Thorne Germond. Other performers include Professor Megan Thompson and non-faculty dancers Lee Gibaldi Knight and Ashley Budy Whitlinger.
Marloff describes “Rituals” as “…the combination of a year’s work” between she and Kinzer. The women each took independent sabbaticals in 2012 in which they did scholarly studies and worked on their art. When they were finished with their sabbaticals, they decided to collaborate on a non-traditional dance concert which they titled “Rituals.” Traditional ODU dance concerts incorporate many different styles of dancing and are performed by students. However, “Rituals” is comprised of completely modern dance, is faculty produced and is mostly faculty performed.
Kinzer says, “This is very different than most of them [concerts]. It’s all faculty work and most of the performers were faculty as well. Typically in our concerts it’s mostly students on stage, so here we see a different age and maturity level[s]. These are very experienced, seasoned performers.”
Before it’s even begun, it is evident that this concert will be interesting. The “t” in the title “Rituals” is made by the female gender sign and the show features an all-female dance ensemble. As the concert is about to begin, Marilyn Marloff stands before the audience to thank them for attending the show. She describes the upcoming performances as being often “quiet and contemplative” and asks the audience to allow the dances to wash over them.
The first piece, “Lumen Sensibus”, by Amanda Kinzer and Megan Thompson, is the brain child of Marilyn Marloff. Marloff has been with ODU since 1987 and is currently an associate professor and chief advisor for all dance majors. Marloff says the piece is about “having to let go” of a relationship for any reason including death, separation, or memory loss.
The dance opens with two women folding laundry. A combination of choreography, props and music makes it evident that the women are in some type of close relationship that is gradually being lost or let go of. Of her piece, Marloff says, “For me just the ritual of laundry, just the feeling of folding it and caring for someone, it’s always been a calming activity for me, a ritual that helps to center me. But then also, the symbolism of putting things away in their place, the laundry folding and then the music folding.”
The second piece performed is called “Scarlett, I Dare Ya!” It was choreographed and performed by professor Rachel Thorne Germond. The program notes that this piece is actually part of a larger work called “Look at Me” “that explores images of women, gender, and sexuality.” Germond uses a mash up of music, choreography, lighting and props to explore the struggles and triumphs of female sexuality.
The remainder of the concert was comprised of Amanda Kinzer’s larger work called “Inquest (premiere)” which consists of five smaller dances performed by Megan Thomason, Lee Gibaldi Knight and Ashley Budy Whitlinger. It is the longest work of the concert and uses lighting, smoke effects, and psychedelic video footage of natural scene and flowers. This is combined with choreography to tell a story and evoke the ideas of witch craft and the witch trials.
Kinzer spent the majority of her sabbatical studying witch craft, saying, “I did a lot of reading about the history of witchcraft, the reasons behind the accusations and the potential reasons behind the confessions. I did a lot of scholarly reading about people’s various theories because no one really knows, of course. I got really interested in it and I started looking for images that supported that. So the flower images were taken from specific flowers that people said were maybe associated with some of the witch craft phenomena. And of course some of the later slides were taken from the time period and art portraying women being questioned or searched. Tortured. That kind of thing. So the research was intense thus the piece was kind of intense.”
Kinzer and Marloff say that the upcoming Fall Concert will be more like a traditional ODU dance concert with a variety of dance techniques and student performances. The Fall Concert will be taking place on November 20-23, 2013.