Indiana University Contemporary Dance professor Selene Carter experiments with sights and sounds in her latest work at the 2016 Winter Dance Concert.
Like author Elmore Leonard, who famously said, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it,” Varone strives to strip away the standard lyrical movements of modern dance in search of a more honest form of expression.
“He was so funny. He would just be like, ‘Cut that out! That inverted handstand looks like boring modern dance,” explains Carter. “He really trained my eye to notice when it feels like you’re watching a dance class, rather than the piece of art.”
Even before meeting Varone, as a choreographer Carter has always strayed away from “Dance with a capital D,” as she calls it. Before coming to IU, she was co-director of Links Hall, at the epicenter of experimental dance in Chicago.
“I don’t like to see people point their toes,” she says with a laugh. “That’s just my personal aesthetic. I always have a deeper, more powerful response to movements that are more humble and human, rather than, ‘look how gorgeous I am, and how correctly I’m moving.”
Her latest piece, Overtones – featured in the upcoming 2016 Winter Dance Concert – was inspired by artist Joseph Albers’s influential writings on color: Our perception of color exists in our mind, rather than a concrete surface we can grab hold of. Working with MFA lighting designer, Carrie Barton, Carter’s eight dancers will travel through fields of light, rearranging the color the audience perceives with their movements and relationships.
“For a while now, I’ve wondered why, in dance, we separate the movement from the other sensory experiences,” explains Carter. “So I wanted to create a piece that focused on the allied senses – really pointed them out – and connected them to the movement.”
In that spirit, Carter brought in local choral ensemble, Voces Novae, to create a soundscape for the piece that she hopes will give the audience a truly unique experience.
“I want the choir to be in the audience; I want their voices to resonate kinesthetically through the spectators,” she says.
“I have to say I’m not necessarily excited by dance on the proscenium stage. Since the Winter Dance Concert is typically in the proscenium, each year I try show a different view. As a choreographer, I’m always to trying to poke at whatever convention I’m working in.”