Ordway Blog: Stay connected here with what is happening at Ordway and take a look at what is going on behind the scenes.
Tue, Apr 30, 2013 10:22 AM by Alan Post
Why is my biology class involved in a dance project? I confess, I’ve been a little reluctant to mention this project to my colleagues for fear of having to answer this question. Talk about a crazy collaboration! This semester my Urban Ecosystem Ecology students, Maria Dahmus’ Social Dynamics and the Environment students, Tim Scully’s Videography students (all at UST), are partnering with Wynn Fricke’s Dance Class at Macalester, Amy Miller at the Ordway Theater, and members of the Pilobolus Dance Company to create a dance piece that will be performed at Macalester College’s Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center on Friday, May 3 (7:30 PM) and Saturday, May 4 (2:00 PM).
Pilobolus has a long history of interacting with scientists. In fact, the name “Pilobolus” refers to a type of fungus that grows in barnyards. The group was formed by several biology students at Dartmouth College in the 1970s; today they are one of the most widely acclaimed modern dance companies in the world, performing on the Oscars, on Oprah, and on stages all over the world.
Originally when I agreed to participate in this project, I was intrigued by the possibility of using dance as a medium to communicate ideas about the interaction between humans and the environment to new audiences. Also, as someone who has spent a lot of time representing ecosystems through conceptual diagrams and mathematical models, I was fascinated by the idea of having dancers depict these intangible concepts of how energy flows through ecosystems, and nutrients cycle within ecosystems. Ecosystems are really about movement and transformation, and that’s what dance does as well.
Through participating in this process, I’ve come to realize that the analogy runs even deeper. I’ve been struck by how much the entire collaborative, creative process mirrors processes in nature. A Pilobolus dance begins with the choreographers engaging in a series of discussions with their collaborators–in this case, our Biology and Environmental Studies students. As our students learned about how ideas from nature can be communicated through movement, the directors (and some visiting dance students) grasped onto the themes of our courses. When the Pilobolus choreographers began working with the Macalester dancers, they didn’t create the dance ahead of time and teach it to the dancers. Rather, it emerged organically as the directors picked up on natural motions of the dancers (“There! Do that again! Make that motion bigger! Everyone on this side of the room do this motion!”). Through this process of the directors seeing interesting movements, and choosing some to amplify, before long, the room full of dancers is moving in complex patterns that–amazingly–seems to simulate ideas that we have discussed during our courses about interactions between humans and nature. As Pilobolus choreographer Renee Jaworski said, “We’re sneaky directors.”
Listening to Renee and fellow Pilobulus choreographer and master teacher Emily Kent talk about the creative process during their final meeting with my students, they emphasized that every piece is a document that reflects the people who participated, and the context. The fact that this process happened during a long, late winter has colored the performance. A comment that one of my students made about how a video shot by one of the videography students reminded her of the Red Queen Hypothesis from evolutionary biology (an allusion to Alice in Wonderland, in which you have to run faster and faster just to stay in the same place) has become a dominant theme in the production, applied to the relationship between humans and our constructed environment. The themes that Renee and Emily brought up describing our creative process echo ideas from systems theory: interaction, feedback, sensitivity to initial conditions. The flow of information, over time, through a network, as it gets modified at each step. I had spent the previous weekend at a systems ecology symposium where scientists were using these words to describe how ecosystems develop, and now I’m hearing my students use this same language to describe the collaborative process between scientists and artists.
So, why is my biology class involved in a dance project? Join us Friday evening at Macalester to find out. I think you’ll be impressed.
-Chip Small, Biology professor at University of St. Thomas
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 10:37 AM by Alan Post
The Pilobolus Project has begun! Ordway is hosting an artist residency throughout the spring semester with Pilobolus, a world-renowned modern dance company, Macalester College’s Dance Department, and three University of St. Thomas courses – Social Dynamics and the Environment, Urban Ecosystem Ecology, and Videography. Pilobolus company members are visiting Saint Paul four times and together, with the student groups, are learning about ways in which societies and individuals interact with their natural and built environments. The environmental studies, biology, and film students have been busy the past month, collecting and presenting observations of how humans interact with the environment to Pilobolus and the Macalester dance students. Then through guidance during intensive rehearsals with Pilobolus, Macalester dance students have begun creating a dance piece inspired by Pilobolus’ aesthetic and the observations and analyses of the UST students.
Stay tuned for updates on the project and mark your calendars for May 3rd and 4th! The Pilobolus Project dance piece will premiere as a part of Macalester College’s Spring Dance Concert on Friday evening, May 3rd at 7:30pm in Macalester’s Janet Wallet Fine Arts Center. Then the following night, on May 4th, Pilobolus will premiere a new work during their public performance at the Ordway at 7:30pm.
Macalester and St. Thomas students involved in the Pilobolus Project take part in movement workshops and dance rehearsals with Pilobolus company members, during the first visit of the residency!
Tue, Nov 6, 2012 1:48 PM by Emily Kudrle
This past October the Ordway celebrated Mexican arts history with various Máscaras y Milagros events throughout the month. It was a great opportunity to educate children in about Mexican arts here in Minnesota. Below are some photos from the events.
Delfos Danza Contemporánea held a master class with students from the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. The students learned several dance combinations from Delfos’s artistic directors, Victor Manuel Ruiz and Claudia Lavista, and got the chance to work with company members.
(Pictured: Delfos Company Member dancing with SPCPA students)
Delfos Danza Contemporánea took a moment after one of their school performances to speak about their dance piece, Cuando los Disfraces se Cuelgan, with Northfield School of Art & Technology. The students then had the opportunity to examine Mexican artifacts provided by the Multicultural Resource Center that is affiliated with Saint Paul Public Schools.
(Pictured: Delfos Danza Contemporánea speaking to students from Northfield School of Art & Technology)
(Pictured: Sheryl Kempf from the Multicultural Resource Center discussing an artifact with students).
Delfos Danza Contemporánea visited the 6th Grade class at Mississippi Creative Arts Magnet school. They performed pieces of the performance the students would be experiencing the next day, and then worked with the students to help them create their own versions of the pieces they were just shown.
(Pictured: Delfos showing a portion of their dance piece, , Cuando los Disfraces se Cuelgan)
(Pictured: Artistic Director Claudia Lavista working with students at Mississippi Creative Arts Magent)
(Pictured: Artistic Director Victor Manuel Ruiz working with students at Mississippi Creative Arts Magnet)
Photo Credits: Kristie Gaalswyk and Traci Shannon
Posted in Education
Fri, Feb 17, 2012 10:39 AM by Luke Anderson
Established in 2006, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts’ Education Awards were created to honor the contributions of individuals and institutions that have furthered the mission of Education and Community Engagement Programs at the Ordway.
Individuals and organizations from any artistic, educational, or cultural field are eligible, including individual artists, professional administrators and teachers, volunteers, philanthropists, and partnerships or leadership teams.
The submission deadline for the 2012 Education awards is March 9, 2012. Winners will be announced at the Annual Liaison Event Friday, May 11, 2012.
One person or organization is awarded in each of the four following areas.
Philanthropy: For outstanding financial or in-kind contributions to the betterment of Education and Community Engagement programs at the Ordway.
Vision: For the creation of new programs or innovation and enhancement to existing Education or Community Engagement programs at the Ordway.
Community Commitment: For dedication, over a period of time, to the support and/or advancement of Community Engagement programs at the Ordway.
Education Service: This award is presented to a person(s) or organization whose leadership and participation has led to inventive learning for students in or through Ordway's programs.
A nominee who doesn’t fit easily into any of the above categories may be nominated. Please include a statement as to why they should be considered for an award.
If you would like more information on the awards or how to nominate someone please visit the Ordway website.
Wed, Feb 15, 2012 1:22 PM by Luke Anderson
On Saturday, February 11, Ordway staff, Perpich Center staff, teaching artists and coaches, presented on the Dance to Learn program to 35 dance educators at the Perpich Center’s annual Dance Education Summit. Workshop attendees experienced select lessons from the program and learned about its structure and goals.
Last week, the in-school dance residency portion of the Dance to Learn program wrapped up at Sheridan Hills Elementary in Richfield and Fair Oaks Elementary in Brooklyn Park. For students at both of these schools, the dance instruction that they experience through Dance to Learn is the only dance instruction that they receive during the school day at any point in the year. In addition to the residency work, students attend professional dance performances at the Ordway throughout the school year.
For more information about Dance to Learn, please visit http://www.ordway.org/education/programs/dancetolearn/
Mon, Feb 13, 2012 2:02 PM by Luke Anderson
Amir Sabbagh, community engagement intern at the Ordway, blogs about the Campus Connections Playing for Change event at Macalester College February 3.
Live music, energetic dancing and good food crossed countries, continents and cultures in the Weyerhaeuser Board Room February 3 as Macalester students were treated to a teaser event for the Ordway’s Playing for Change performance. The free event, part of the Ordway’s Campus Connections program, featured local musical artists originally from as far away as India and Africa to nearby Wisconsin – and focused on how music can promote harmony, peace and understanding. It was a precursor to the Ordway’s larger event yesterday, featuring the internationally recognized Playing for Change band. Playing for Change rocked the Ordway last night as well. It was a wonderful concert!
Among the February 3 performers were: Congolese musician Siama Matuzungidi, singer/cultural weaver Mankwe Ndosi, and Tibetan musician Tenzin Ngawang. The event featured everything from popular African-based Soukous dance music to traditional Tibetan song and dance to hip-hop to American jazz. The performers also shared the stories of their lives (from performing in the Tibetan Diaspora to planning an escape from Idi Amin’s Uganda), as well as personal observations on how music helps build understanding and harmony among all people.
The music was a hit, with at least half of the more than 60 attendees creating an impromptu dance floor. How popular was the “mini” Playing for Change? At the end of the performance, Ordway Community Engagement Coordinator Amy Miller asked how many students were planning to purchase tickets for the larger February 12 event - and literally a bus load of hands went up. The Ordway then planned a bus to transport students from campus to the Ordway for the larger event yesterday. What a great weekend!
Thu, Jan 5, 2012 1:39 PM by Marinda Bland
Ronald K. Brown Evidence, A Dance Company will perform its fusion of spoken word, traditional African dance and contemporary choreography at the Ordway on January 15. Ronald K. Brown, Artistic Director of Evidence, flew to Minnesota in early December to teach classes and workshops around Saint Paul as a part of the Ordway’s Education programming. Despite Mr. Brown’s busy schedule while he was here, one of his first stops was the shoe store to buy a new pair of winter boots to stay warm!
After teaching a Master Class at TU Dance Center on a blustery Saturday afternoon, Mr. Brown sat down with two interns to answer a few questions about dance, community education, and his upcoming performance at the Ordway.
Learn more about Mr. Brown’s visit to Saint Paul in December during the pre-show Ordway Extra in the second-floor Marzitelli Foyer at 6:30pm, just prior to the company’s public performance on Sunday, January 15. Dancers from the community who took part in his classes will be sharing stories about their experiences and inspirations through working with “Ron”.
Then have the chance to ask questions and hear from Mr. Brown and company members during the Talkback and Post-show Party!
You can find out more about Evidence and find ticketing information here. More information about the Ordway’s Education programming is available on the Education page, and you can keep up to date with the latest Education news on the Education blog.
Thu, Dec 22, 2011 2:09 PM by Marinda Bland
Check out the great pictures!
Thu, Dec 8, 2011 2:21 PM by Marinda Bland
The fairy tale begins on Sunday, December 11 as Ordway Circle of Stars (OCOS) presents the Glass Slipper Ball. Guests are invited to slip-on royal attire and join us for a magical evening of exquisite food, live auction bidding and an exclusive first look at the final dress rehearsal of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. There will also be a post-show dessert and dance party with the cast.
The OCOS gala benefits the Ordway and its educational programs, making it possible for students to enjoy the Ordway’s world-class performances and community engagement events. Tickets are still available, so don’t delay and visit ordway.org/gala or call 651.282.3006. Tickets start at $250.
This year’s featured auction item will be a giant children’s playhouse: Cinderella’s Castle. The biggest item in the gala’s history, this very special playhouse castle was designed, constructed and decorated in a fanciful, fairytale style. Its mixture of rustic elegance and playful details was inspired by the Ordway’s holiday production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
Cinderella’s Castle stands 16-feet tall and 11-feet wide. It boasts four towers complete with turrets, a play fireplace, 24 windows and a royal balcony. Other features include a spiral staircase, a chandelier, a castle clock, a Dutch door on the main entrance and benches. The colors of the castle include fairytale blue, pink and purple. Be sure to view our construction video to see the castle come alive.
The castle was designed and built by HGA Architects and Engineers, McGough, Nelson Tietz & Hoye, Schuler Shook, Akustiks, HUNT Electric, Metropolitan Mechanical Contractors, Nakasone, Custom Drywall and Metro Manufacturing.
By Luke Anderson
Fri, Oct 28, 2011 1:19 PM by Marinda Bland
Over the week and a half of Target World Music and Dance performances in October, the Ordway will play host to more than 17,000 kids during its Performing Arts Classroom series. PACs, as they are affectionately known, are educational field trips that feature one-hour school performances representing a global spectrum of cultural art forms.
From October 24 through November 1, the Ordway offers eleven weekday matinee performances especially designed for students in kindergarten through twelfth grades. During this stretch of shows, kids get a chance to see Luna Negra Dance Theater (8, 224 students), Latin jazz vocalist Magos Herrera (2,856 students), and Vox Lumiere – Phantom of the Opera (6,179 students). Altogether, that’s a total of 17,259 kids. That’s a higher student attendance than we typically have at the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival!
Tickets are only $3.50 for 2011-2012 School Year Ordway Education school performances including the 2012 Flint Hills International Children's Festival! The Ordway welcomes all public, private, charter, and homeschools to Performing Arts Classrooms and Flint Hills International Children's Festival performances. We are proud to be the number one cultural destination for Minneapolis and Saint Paul public school students for ten years running!
This blog is a group effort by Ordway staff, actors, artists, musicians, dancers and all those involved in the creative process of performances, programs and events at the Ordway to provide a behind the scenes look at what happens onstage, backstage and in support of the work presented at the Ordway. We also hope to discuss pertinent topics in our industry.
The purpose of this blog is to engage with you in the blogosphere. We wish to let you know that our posts do not go through any official editorial process for spelling, grammar or fact checking, therefore errors may occur – please be kind! Every blog post is open for public comment, questions or suggestions and the Ordway chooses not to pre-screen these responses. That being said, we do reserve the right to remove any offensive, illegal, or inappropriate content at the Ordway's sole discretion.
As part of our new branding initiative surrounding the joy provided by performing arts, by posting a comment, question or suggestion you provide the Ordway with the right to use your submission for marketing and promotional purposes. (I know, I know, I promise to not make future posts as boring as this one!)
Phew! I'm done talking "legal jargon." Thanks for stopping by and reading our blog!