George Pinney: Once an activist, always an activist

Head of Musical Theatre Program at Indiana University choreographs for the 2016 Winter Dance Concert with an intent to provoke thought and stimulate a call to action in a beautifully woven piece, VIRUS.

Pinney.georgeInspired by the World AIDS crisis, Pinney’s vision is to bring this idea of a virus into a more meta/global point of view, with a particular look into how all aspects of humanity’s non-literal viruses can infect our human experience and condition.

While Musical Theatre is what he’s known for at IU, concert dance has always been an important part of Professor Pinney’s life and professional journey. In musical theatre the structure is given to the choreographer by the book and music writers, but in concert dance, the choreographer creates all. “It’s enormously refreshing… In musical theatre you’re going into a house that’s built with a script and score, but in concert dance you’re going into it with an idea and that’s it. So the freedom in that is enormous and it’s just the furthest limits of your imagination”. It’s a true organic collaboration that begins with the first day of rehearsal (whereas in musical theatre, most everything is choreographed prior to the first day of rehearsal).


VIRUS dancers in dress rehearsal

Forever inspired by Martha Graham and Agnes De Mille due to their ability to convey the human condition through dance, he studied the art and discipline of dance during his undergraduate years at Illinois State University. He was heavily involved with student dance projects or “guerrilla” productions, during the Vietnam War, with hopes to inspire and comment on the political landscape at the time.

From the days of undergraduate years, the art of Concert Dance became more formalized as a serious aesthetic while acting as head of performance studies at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He both danced and choreographed in Concert Dance during these years. Once on the scene he continued his work in Concert Dance form along with Musical Theatre.

With what Professor Pinney refers to as his own “moxy”, his artistic inspiration continues to compel him to express the human condition, relentlessly, deeply and with great passion, just as his role models, Martha Graham and Agnes De Mille once did.

About IU Theatre Department

Welcome to the 7th & Jordan blog. This blog is a peek behind the curtain at the productions and people at Indiana University's Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance.
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