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Wednesday, August 8,2012

Modern family

LCC's Community Dance Project brings dance to the masses

by Holly Johnson
Modern dance showcases aren’t known blockbusters in the entertainment world, but that’s not stopping a group of nearly two dozen choreographers from attempting an epic feat of synergistic pageantry. 

“Sometimes the audience for local dance is not terribly strong,” said Lisa Whiting-Dobson, stage manager for this week’s gargantuan Community Dance Project at LCC’s Dart Auditorium. “By coming together as a community, we can pull more viewers than we can with just one school or choreographer.” 

Well, it worked for “The Avengers,” and there were only seven of them. The Community Dance Project assembles 19 seasoned and novice dance choreographers from across Michigan to bring the art of modern dance to the forefront of community arts experience. 

The event, now in its eighth year, will be split over tonight and Thursday night, with performances composed of five or fewer dancers performing tonight and larger-cast performances of six or more tomorrow. Music ranges from classical to contemporary, producing an eclectic blend of artistic expression. By combining emerging and professional choreographers, each choreographer was able to share their techniques, providing for a community-based learning environment. 

“Part of the experience of being a choreographer is how you get your ideas onto a body,” Whiting-Dobson said. “You’ve got to take the ideas you have and make them work with a group of dancers.” 

Featured dancers include local high school students, MSU and LCC students and graduates and area professionals. The idea of combining dancers that vary in their levels of expertise creates a balanced atmosphere with a primary focus on education. 

According the group’s website, the project’s mission is to “enhance the understanding and accessibility of the modern dance genre by providing the foundation to share knowledge between novice and experienced choreographers.” They also yearn “to expose audiences to the choreographic process, to strengthen relationships among various community dance agencies and to perform in a variety of venues that bring modern dance to the Greater Lansing community.” Not ambitious, or anything.  

But it’s not simply to entertain that drives the folks behind the project — they also want to instruct their audiences, and to make modern dance more understandable to the public. Choreographers will address the audience before the presentation of each dance, sharing their intentions and process to more fully illuminate. At the end of the show, dancers and choreographers alike retake the stage to participate in a talkback session that will hopefully clear up any mysteries for the (potentially bedeviled) spectators. 

With sponsorship from Okemos-based dance company Happendance, and Lansing Community College — and with mini-grants from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and assistance from the Arts Council of Greater Lansing — the Community Dance Project has been able to stimulate support for the art of dance throughout the Lansing area. It knocked the socks off attendees at last weekend’s Lansing JazzFest in Old Town, and both groups of dancers are set to perform Sunday at (SCENE) Metrospace in East Lansing. 

Community Dance Project 2012

Presented by LCC and Happendance 

Aug. 8 and 9 

LCC´s Dart Auditorium

500 N. Capitol Ave., Lansing

8 p.m. 

Aug. 10

(SCENE) Metrospace

110 Charles St., East Lansing

FREE

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