Encore Winter 2015

Contemporary Dance Theatre

First Encounters with Europe

Colin Holbrook acts as a guardian angel to Heidi Jorgensen in “Psalom,” supporting and carrying her unseen throughout the dance. The Contemporary Dance Theatre show Encounters invites all to be transformed by connections and exchanges.

It is a season of firsts for Contemporary Dance Theatre. This summer the team will take its first tour of Europe and participate in its first contemporary dance festival. It is a chance for new sights, new friends, and new levels of learning, especially at the New Prague Dance Festival.Dance festivals are different from performing tours, which the team has done since 1976. Performing tours are a chance to showcase the team’s skills; festivals provide additional learning opportunities from master class teachers and fellow participants. According to artistic director Nathan Balser, the preparation is different as well. “Often they ask for only one or two of our best numbers, or sometimes they do ask for an entire show with a theme,” he says. “So we have to prepare according to different

Performed here by Contemporary Dance Theatre member Demi Eastman, Ihsan Rustem’s “I Was Here” is as athletic and technical as it is meaningful, using precision and skill to show the influence of one life.

criteria.”According to its website, the New Prague Dance Festival was created in 1997 with the purpose to “join all the people who love the art of dance.” The festival is hosted at the New Stage of the National Theatre of Prague, in the heart of the old city, and includes workshop master classes in addition to gala, competition, and finale performances.Contemporary dance is about new and evolving dance. “This is a chance for Contemporary Dance Theatre to learn as much as possible and also share our art with others,” says team president Cayel Tregeagle.According to dancer Demi Eastman, festivals serve to show the group its potential. “This is a chance to show us how others are pushing boundaries that every contemporary dancer faces,” she says. “We see what other people bring and watch the newest movements as they are being created.”After the festival, Contemporary Dance Theatre will tour in Hungary, Austria, and Germany. Whether at a festival or at a scheduled venue, the purpose is the same for the dancers, says Balser: “We perform for the sake of art.”Contemporary Dance Theatre’s show Encounters tells how we may be unexpectedly captivated by people, places, and ideas in our lives. Often these encounters change us forever. The program includes many fresh, innovative dances that explore relationships in their many forms.One team favorite is “Heartlines,” by European choreographer Ihsan Rustem. It follows the experience of young people as they encounter light, beauty, and truth and are influenced by one another. “It is the story of how people meet, have an impact in another’s life, and leave,” Tregeagle says. “It feels so fitting, since that is what we do on these tours.” It is a small moment of time, yet the experience resonates with the dancers and those they meet.“I Was Here,” also by Rustem, is a commentary on the force of friendship. It expresses people’s desire to leave their personal mark on the world and leaves the audience to ponder the question “What is my legacy?”Loni Landon’s “The Thought of You Is Fading” explores how as time goes by, people go their separate ways. But even as the memories fade, the influence they had never will. For Heidi Jorgensen, the dance became especially personal when she performed her final duet with a graduating teammate. “It helps you remember people in your past,” she says. “Although you move on, you never forget how they have shaped you.”For Eastman those relationships, new and old, in rehearsal or on tour, make every dance a new experience. “Being able to dance with the people I love most,” she says, “I think that is why I enjoy it so much.”