STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON/For Digital First Media
It’s cold. It could be snowing. But the lights are on and the stage is lit for the next event in the Bryn Mawr Performing Arts Series. Warm up inside while viewing theater, dance and music – and get out on the dance floor, too – at “Wintry Mix,” Jan. 30 and 31 at 8 p.m. Each night features a different headliner joined by an array of performers and concludes with an audience participation dance party. Most sets will last twelve minutes.
“’Wintry Mix’ is a chance to sample a menu of different tastes and experience what is fresh and different in contemporary performing arts,” said series curator Lisa Kraus.
Multimedia artist Cynthia Hopkins headlines the show on Jan. 30, presenting an original, intimate musical experience that explores the connections between the personal and universal. The first night also includes filmmaker Judy Dennis showing selections from “The Dancer Films,” which bring to life the cartoons of Jules Feiffer; comedian Chris Davis; audiovisual artist Rucyl presenting an experimental work featuring electronic instruments of her own design; and performance artist Annie Wilson and her work that explodes feminist stereotypes. Following the show, New York performer Miguel Gutierrez will lead the audience through “Deep Aerobics.”
The Jan. 31 performance offers headliner Martha Graham Cracker, portrayed by Dito van Reigersberg; modern dance duo Chelsea & Magda; filmmaker Peter Rose offering selections of his experimental films exploring time through landscapes; hip-hop/spoken word artist Raphael Xavier; and dancer Christina Zani exploring 100 years of dance styles in ten minutes. New York City-based DJ Rekha will end the evening with a dance party merging South Asian and Bollywood music with traditional dance songs.
Camilla Dely presents an original ensemble dance theater piece based on the work of Anton Chekhov during the Jan.30 event. The piece was inspired by his short story, “Anyuta,” about a medical student and his female roommate.
“It’s a slice of their relationship,” Dely said.
Unlike the story, the dance doesn’t have a specific narrative arc.
“It’s a meditation, an exploration on a couple of images and ideas present in the story,” Dely said.
In the story, the medical student tries to learn where the ribs are in relation to the organs in the body. He asks his roommate to let him study her body, instead of his book. He uses charcoal to draw where her ribs are. He’s so engrossed in what he’s doing, he doesn’t notice her lips and hands turn blue because she’s cold, Dely said.
The color blue, then, becomes important in the dance. Also, the idea of being non-responsive or not seeing is demonstrated, Dely said.
The piece features six performers and, for the first time, Dely isn’t one of them. She’s directing. The work, though, was created in collaboration. She had an idea and a proposed structure, but the group worked together to create the piece from that point on.
“Working in collaboration lets you off the hook of having all of the ideas,” she said. “You’re using what you see come out of their bodies and that makes it more pleasurable for them, too. The performer gets ownership over the piece. And people move their bodies in different ways. It looks better if they do what they do well and what they enjoy.”
What the piece says overall, though, is up to the audience.
“I hope that an element of tenderness is communicated somewhere in the piece. I hope that people don’t think it’s only about gender. I’d rather not have people think it’s about a specific issue or theme,” she said. “I don’t have anything I want them to come away from it thinking. It’s not about one thing in particular. I’d rather they just experience it in its totality. Whatever reaction they have is valid.”
IF YOU GO
What: Wintry Mix
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 30 and 31
Where: Bryn Mawr College, Hepburn Teaching Theater in Goodhart Hall, 101 North Merion Ave., Bryn Mawr, Pa.
Tickets: $20; $18 for seniors; $10 for students; $5 for children younger than 12.
Info.: Call 610-526-5210 or visit www.brynmawr.edu/arts/series.html.