IU choreographed work ‘Minor Bodies’ selected for national festival

Guest post courtesy of IU Communications colleague Brittany Aders:

Indiana University choreography has been selected to showcase at the 2014 National College Dance Festival in June at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Ryan Galloway and Shannon Kazan, IU senior dance majors, will perform “Minor Bodies,” which was choreographed by IU Associate Professor and Director of Contemporary Dance Elizabeth Shea.

“As a choreographer, I am thrilled to have this opportunity to show my work among other national selections and at a venue such as the Kennedy Center,” said Shea. “This recognition comes at a nice time, too, when people are starting to learn more about contemporary dance, as our move to theater and drama has generated a lot of buzz and interest.”

Dances selected for the festival are considered the best adjudicated works chosen throughout a two-year process of regional and gala performances. Out of the 500 or so total dances that are submitted, 30 are selected and performed at the festival.

The piece was originally commissioned by Eisenhower Dance, a professional dance company based in Rochester, Michigan, so the first section was created with professional dancers. After attending the premiere by Eisenhower Dance in Michigan, Shea realized the piece was too short. She decided to teach the choreography to two of her most advanced students for performance in the annual winter concert, and subsequently created a second section with Galloway and Kazan. Fate and love are two major themes of this work.

“This idea of the destiny of two individuals being tied or linked over a long period of time started to make sense, and as circular patterns began to emerge, the idea of space, or orbiting, came into play. Thus, the title ‘Minor Bodies’ which is actually a term for small planets, or asteroids,” Shea said.

She explains that the personal connection between the two dancers translates effortlessly in their performance in front of an audience. Galloway and Kazan, senior dance majors at IU, have been dance partners for four years, performing duets in many works by faculty and guest artists.

Galloway and Kazan in performance of 'Minor Bodies'. Shea describes this captured moment as her favorite because they are supporting one another.

Galloway and Kazan during a performance of ‘Minor Bodies’. Choreographer Shea describes this captured moment as her favorite because they are supporting one another. Credit: Jeremy Hogan

“Creating a story through movement is something that is very important for dance,” Kazan said. “You learn how to try and communication between you and your partner, and you and the audience, with just movement and chemistry. The audience can expect a 10-minute duet that is a combination of athleticism, grace, chemistry and trust … He lifts me 42 times in the piece.”

Shea added that it’s important for the dancers to work together as a team during the rehearsal process to make the choreography as successful as possible.

“I believe people really responded to this work because the dancers gave such an honest and heartfelt performance,” she said. “And that is the treasure of modern and contemporary dance styles—the choreography does not come from a codified vocabulary, like in classical dance forms, so each choreographer has an opportunity to create something fresh from their heart and mind. It never gets old or stale.”

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