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University Dance Theatre presents: Local Motion

February 25, 2021 - 7:30pm to April 1, 2021 - 9:30pm

Premieres on UMTAD YouTube & UMTAD Facebook

Image: University Dance Theatre rehearsal with Cowles Visiting Artists. Photo by: Isabel Fajardo.

Image: University Dance Theatre rehearsal with Cowles Visiting Artists. Photo by: Isabel Fajardo.
Image: University Dance Theatre rehearsal with Cowles Visiting Artists. Photo by: Randy Karels.

From the University of Minnesota Dance Program, 

University Dance Theatre presents: Local Motion

A showcase of short films choreographed by local artists presented in 3 parts

Featuring work by Cowles Visiting Artists 
Performed by University of Minnesota Dance students
Directed by Erin Thompson 
Assistant Directed by Laura Selle-Virtucio 
Production Management by Mike Grogan

View our Facebook event.

Free to access.

University Dance Theatre presents: Local Motion is a showcase of short films by local artists, presented in 3 parts on UMTAD's YouTube Channel & Facebook Page

Part 1: February 25, 7:30pm

  • And What Does it Mean to Me? Choreographed by Vie Boheme
  • Germination Choreographed by Andy Asong-Morfaw
  • Contained, Alive. (Entry 1) Choreographed by Pedro Pablo

Part 2: March 11, 7:30 pm

  • Mend/Burst/Rev Choreographed by Hiponymous
  • Glimpse In-Out Choreographed by Patricia Brown (Ben)  
  • Interim Choreographed by Lisa Berman and Joe Tran
  • You Think You Know Choreographed by Darrius Strong

Part 3: April 1, 7:30 pm

  • Testing for Done Choreographed by Hijack
  • Live in Your Power Choreographed by Herb Johnson III
  • Glimpse In-Out Choreographed by Patricia Brown (Johanna)
  • Wadi Nar/Serotiny Choreographed by Leila Awadallah   

About the Artists

LEILA AWADALLAH: LeilAwa is a Palestinian, Arab American choreographer, performer, and film maker whose work unfolds at the intersections of re-rooting into ancestral lineages and awakening embodied memories, critiquing and subverting stereotypes and orientalist tropes, sensual empowerment, contemplations of loss, and utilizing performance as a space to examine politics, foreign policy, settler-colonialism, and address global human rights injustice. LeilAwa received a BFA in Dance + minor in Arabic Language and Literature from the University of Minnesota (2017) and was a performer with Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT) for the 5 season: ‘Work Women Do’ series (2014-2019). Under the mentorship of Ananya Chatterjea and alongside the community of ADT, LeilAwa’s artistry grew within this intersectional women of color space where social justice, cultural activism and performance merge. LeilAwa studies folk dances, performs, and teaches / choreographs in Beirut, Lebanon and Bethlehem, Palestine. She has presented work across multiple venues in the Twin Cities and was a founding member of the Kelvin Wailey dance trio. LeilAwa was a Springboard 20/20 fellow (2018), a Daring Dances fellow (2019), and a recipient of the Jerome@Camargo Residency (France 2020) and the Arab American National Museum Artist Residency (Michigan 2020). 
Residency: Body Watani is a practice of listening to, and moving from a ‘body-as-homeland’ impetus; body as archive of land and ancestral memories. This residency is built in three parts: 1) activate the Body Watani durational, embodied improvisation practice as part of our personal and collective research in process, 2) study and learn Leila’s developing technique of ‘Arab Contemporary dance’: moving within a framework that cites Arab folk / cultural forms, calligraphy and ritual, rhythms and experimentations from the *SWANA region, 3) composing a choreographic articulation of a human rights issue or injustice that resonates with the work and the artists in the space. 
*SWANA: South West Asia and North Africa is a decolonial, geographic term to describe a region; replacing titles such as: the Middle East (eurocentric, colonial term) and ‘the Arab world’ (homogeneous, erases nuance of different non-Arab peoples).

LISA “MONALISA” BERMAN is the founder and Artistic Director of BRKFST Dance Company, recipient of the 2019 MRAC Arts Activities Support Grant for BRKFST, 2019 Artist Initiative Grant, 2016 McKnight Dancer Fellowship, and 2008 Jerome Travel and Study Grant for Choreography. MonaLisa is currently working as a Breaking instructor for The University of Minnesota, Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, resident Teaching Artist for The Cowles Center, choreographer for Hamline University, and on the COMPAS roster as a performance group with BRKFST Dance Company. Lisa has performed at venues locally, nationally, and internationally including but not limited to Florida, Washington DC, New York, the Netherlands, and Ireland.
JOSEPH "MN JOE" TRAN has been a professional breaker since 2005. He is a member of world-renowned crew Knuckleheads Cali and founding member of BRKFST Dance Company. Tran is a recipient of the 2019 McKnight Dancer Fellowship and the 2019 MRAC Arts Activities Support Grant for BRKFST. His unique and dynamic movement helped him secure first place titles across Italy, Estonia, Colombia, France, the Netherlands, California, New York and Minnesota. Currently, he is a Hip Hop instructor at Concordia University, Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists and a Teaching Artist for COMPAS, a non-profit education organization that teaches through art. Previous experience includes dancing for the Minnesota Timberwolves with First Avenue Breakers and awards include Outbreak World Finals 2011, Red Bull BC One Midwest 2014, Battle of EST Estonia 2016, Soundset FSS Minnesota 2017 & 2018, “Who Got The Flower?!” France 2018, Dance 2 Connect Ireland 2020.

VIE BOHEME is a Motown native, blossomed creatively in Pittsburgh and refined in Minneapolis. She is a multimodal artist; a dancer, singer and choreographer. She brings athletic agility to her vocal performance by singing and dancing in unison, eliminating the boundary between the visual and audio experience. She is a former vocal artist, choreographer and co-creative director for Stokley Williams, front man of Mint Condition gone solo. She is also a former dance artist with Camille A. Brown & Dancers, TU Dance and a founding member of The August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble (Top 25 to Watch, Dance Magazine, 2012). Vie is also a recent speaker for TedxMinneapolis, a global initiative about ideas worth spreading. Her talk is titled ‘Is Performing Art Worth the Struggle? and is available for viewing now. She is also a Vinyasa, Yin and fitness yoga instructor with her own signature teaching philosophy, CoreKinetics Yoga.
Artist Statement:
I am a multimodal artist; a singer, dancer, actress, poet and choreographer. I design theatrical performance experiences that weave all of these mediums. The Black Church Musical Experience (BCME) defines the woven structure of my work and the organic evolving nature of my performance style. I bring athletic agility to vocal performance by singing and dancing in unison, eliminating the boundary between the visual and audio experience. I also weave sentiment and storytelling through poetry and monologues. Each performance piece is designed to give a glimpse into the sometimes dark and complex emotional spaces people experience that seem elusive and ever present.

PATRICIA BROWN: For 27 years, Patricia Brown has been active in the Twin Cities arts community as a dancer, instructor, performer, choreographer, and mentor. Her African-based fusion style is rooted in dance of West Africa, other African regions, the Caribbean, and Americas. Patricia is a faculty member in the Theater and Dance Department at Macalester College, where she is also the director of the Brown Spirits Dance Ensemble, and received the Educator of the Year Award in 2020. She is a VocalEssence WITNESS School Program Teaching Artist, teaching students in primary and secondary schools, and juvenile detention facilities. She also creates choreography for theater, dance groups, and choirs. Patricia was an adjunct faculty member of the Dance Program at the University of Minnesota for 22 years, where she received the 2004 College of Continuing Education Distinguished Teaching Award, and the 2007 Century Council Diverse Community Award. She was an instructor with the Penumbra Summer Institute for 26 years, and in 2013, they created the Patricia A. Brown scholarship in her honor. She was also nominated for a 2013 Sage Award in the category of "Outstanding Dance Educator," and in 2015, Arts-Us presented her with the Legacy Arts Recognition Award for excellence, leadership and legacy in and through the arts. Other awards include Patricia performing in the 2013 Ivey Award winning show, "Between the Worlds," by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, which was also named one of the top ten arts events of the year. She also created choreography for Terell Alvin McCraney's Brother/Sister plays, presented by Pillsbury House Theater, including, "Marcus or the Secret of Sweet," which received the 2015 Ivey Award for Outstanding Ensemble.

Her performance credits include Children's Theatre Company, O'Shaughnessy Auditorium, JSB TEKBOX, and Patrick's Cabaret, where she premiered her one woman show, "Here I Stand," as part of the "People of Color Performance Cabaret." Patricia was the founder, director, choreographer, and costumer for "The Spirit of Ashe' Performing Arts Company. In addition, she was a member of the Burundi African Dance Company, The Circle of Choice Ensemble, The Dancers and Drummers of Langa, Nimely Pan African Dance Company, and a guest performer with Sundance Productions Multiple Performing Arts Company. Patricia's choreography has been seen on area stages including the Walker Arts Center, Southern Theater, Macalester College, and the MInnesota Historical Society. As a movement coach, she has worked with theaters such as Pillsbury House Theatre, Penumbra Theatre Company, SteppingStone Theatre, and the History Theatre. Her national credits include Jazz at Lincoln Center, NY, Guthrie Theater, MN, LIed Center for Performing Arts, NE, University of Michigan Men's Glee Club, MI, Lincoln Memorial, DC, St. John the Divine, NY, and the Center for Puppetry Arts, GA.

HIPONYMOUS is a crew of two, comprised of Renée Copeland and Genevieve Muench. With an ever-evolving aesthetic, the duo is committed to making work that values community-sourced collaborations, a social-justice dramaturgical lens, and queer/feminist representations. Since forming in 2012, Hiponymous has premiered 10+ new works in Twin Cities venues. Hiponymous' signature choreography delivers simultaneously subconscious and overt approaches to unison and punctuation of movement through rhythm. They create unpredictable pockets in performance, where inventive impulse and phrasing bring a gritty utility to their storytelling. Tonal dramatic shifts roll through the body like mercury, dancing the range from humor to horror.

HIJACK is the Minneapolis-based choreographic collaboration of Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder. HIJACK is the confluence and clash of two independent compositional/kinesthetic impulses. Their dances embrace juxtaposition. Their dances house unlikely intimates and question “who is the enemy?
Over the last 26 years they have created over 100 dances and performed in venues ranging from proscenium to barely-legal. HIJACK has performed in New York (at DTW, PS122, HERE ArtCenter, Catch/Movement Research Festival, La Mama, Dixon Place, Chocolate Factory, Brooklyn Studios for Dance, 9 Herkimer), Japan, Russia, Ottawa, Chicago, Colorado, New Orleans, Seattle, Philadelphia, San Francisco, at Fuse Box Festival in Austin Texas, and Bates Dance Festival in Maine and Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation.
HIJACK has enjoyed long relationships with Bryant Lake Bowl Theater (where their 1996 Take Me To Cuba was the theater’s first ever dance concert), Zenon Dance School (where they have taught every Wednesday morning for 20 years), and Walker Art Center (which commissioned redundant, ready, reading, radish, Red Eye to celebrate twenty years of HIJACK). In 2014, Contact Quarterly published the chapbook “Passing for Dance: A HIJACK Reader”, edited and instigated by Lisa Nelson. Jealousy (HIJACK’s 2019 installation/performance collaboration with Ryan Fontaine and Heidi Eckwall) was selected as one of the “Best of 2019” shows by the Star Tribune. HIJACK teaches composition and contact improvisation at the U of MN and is a 2020 McKnight Choreography fellow.
Process statement for new U of MN work:
HIJACK cherishes the opportunity to make new duet dances with/for student dancers at U of MN. It will be a dance of this time, of this place. We compose with scores, tasks, conversation, improvisation, taught and co-created phrases, expectation and failed expectation. Every new dance process is another chance for community-building: a negotiation of power, a building of trust, a shared risk, a making space for listening, watching, action, stillness, respect. We are inspired by the improvisational quilts of Rosie Lee Tompkins. Look up the story. Consider them with us.

HERB JOHNSON III, McKnight Fellow, Aka JDot Tight Eyez graduated from Perpich Center for the Performing Arts in 2010 and studied 3 years at the Lundstrum Center for Arts. Herb is now at the University of Minnesota as an Urban & Street dance instructor. He currently choreographs and performs solo and in groups 612 Crew, and Mixtape. Professional work includes iLuminate from America’s Got Talent, Choreographing G-Easy's Halftime show at Target a enter in 2018, and SuperBowl 52 half-time Show 2018 with Justin Timberlake.

Artistic Process: 
The improvisation I explore physicality while recording mood. Krump is a vehicle driven by emotion by investigating the movements of Krump I seek to understand how my body and mind feels. What is it telling me? What mood is resonating? What do I want to “get off”? Find a true topic and have a genuine discussion through the body. 

ANDY ASONG-MORFAW: My name is Andy Asong-Morfaw, originally from Cameroon and moved here at the age of 14 in September of 2003. My background in dance has been familiarized with the West African style called Makossa which is commonly known back home. I also adapted other African styles from Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and the United States like Ndombolo, Decale, Mapouka, Azonto, hip hop, and the recent one of afro beats.
I run a Health Care Business that facilitates PCA (Personal Care Assistance) and Supplemental Staffing with a Masters’ degree in Project Management. I am currently a dance instructor for Klass Minneapolis and for All Day Studio. Throughout my experience of my dance career, I have been so fortunate to be currently the assistant choreographer of the Timberwolves’ 612 Crew and Mixtape happening May 14th-17th of 2021. I have also done some work for “Rooted” and “I’m From Vol.2”, choreographed for Southwest and South High School and I am thankful to be part of the U of M dance inquiry this fall of 2020.

PEDRO PABLO is a Minneapolis based, Caracas born, queer, latinx performance maker. They are the founder of Viva la Pepa, an organization holding Pedro's performance artwork, their draglesque Doña Pepa, and their children and family programming Drag Story Hour. Pedro is an inaugural Jerome Hill Artist Fellow who most recently spent 2 months, pre-corona, in Argentina in a duet performance co-creation with Celia Argüello. They are a resident artist with the Pillsbury House Theatre and teaching artist with Upstream Arts. A 2019 City Pages artist of the year, Pedro has presented work with the Red Eye Theater, 20% Theatre, Walker Art Center. Pedro has performed/collaborated with Aniccha Arts, Rosy Simas Danse, Judith Howard, Michael Sommers, April Sellers. Pedro has performed in multiple venues across the Twin Cities as well as in San Juan and Vieques, Puerto Rico; in Dallas, TX; and in Córdoba and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
On process: Viva la Pepa generates collective and unapologetic performances that cross conventional theatrical boundaries by employing multiple forms (experimental, drag, movement, voice); our works are fueled by the overlapping values of Latinx and Queer cultures: melodrama, passion, decadence, and sensuality.
I investigate physical/emotional states, guiding and directing journeys in dialogue with the performers. 

DARRIUS STRONG is a Twin Cities based dancer, choreographer, and instructor. His dance company, STRONGmovement uses the universal language of dance, blending styles such as Hip hop, Ballet, Modern, and West African to tell stories related to society and humanity. Strong is a graduate of University of Minnesota (BFA 2015) and is currently faculty at University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Macalester College, St. Paul Conservatory Performing Arts High School and the TU Dance Center where he focuses on teaching dancers how to connect their identity to movement. Using his passion for youth and bringing communities together, Strong performs and speaks as a guest artist in schools across Minnesota including the Anoka Middle School for the Performing Arts and as a director of the hip-hop program at Eleve Performing Arts Center. His creative work has been chosen for the Walker Art Center’s Choreographers Evening, and Rhythmically Speaking. He was featured in the 2015 New Griots Festival as well as an American Standard Billboard advertisement in NYC Time Square in 2016. Strong has created works for Threads Dance Project, Flying Foot Forum, Alternative Motion Projects, and James Sewell Ballet. Strong is a grateful recipient of a 2017 Momentum New Works Award and 2019 Jerome Hill Fellowship.   
Process note: Darrius Strong believes in the process of embedding the individual dancers' identity to the choreographic work. Through phrase work, Strong encourages the movers to make individual choices and to add their voice in the choreography making it into a collaboration. Strong considers himself a storyteller through movement. Each work that he creates is unique as it tells a different story tailored to the movers. Strong's work is a fusion of multiple styles, such as Hip hop, Modern, Ballet, Jazz, African, Theater. 

View the Promo Clip for University Dance Theatre presents: Local Motion