By Ashley Dillard
Welcome back to another Faculty Spotlight, with some exciting news about one of my favorite people in our department, Elizabeth Shea. Liz (as she’s known around the building) is Director of Contemporary Dance and the woman never stops moving. Every time I see her, she tells me about a new project she has in the works. Recently I sat down with Liz to catch up on a thrilling trip she took to London and found out, unsurprisingly, that she has many more projects in the pipeline!
“Last summer, I went to a conference in Montreal. It was the Body Mind Centering Association 2016 International Conference. I met a woman named Ashleigh Ritchie at this conference and we bonded over our analytical/science based approach to somatic movement. We kept in touch after the conference and I pulled together some resources to go over to London and spend some time at the school she teaches at, the Royal Academy of Dance. It is a very strict ballet syllabus teaching certification organization, but she’s doing a lot of somatic work with her students.”
Liz observed Ashleigh’s teaching and then she lead workshops with the students as well. “I did something a little different with them. When I do a somatic workshop, there are two things that I work with. One is a straight somatic session which is meant to facilitate the nervous system. Then there is somatic-based dance which is what I teach here at IU. And then there is a hybrid of the two and that is what I did with the students there. They were so responsive!”
Liz also immersed herself in the dance scene in London, catching performances at The Place, UK’s premier center for contemporary dance. “European modern dance is very different from what we’re doing in the States.”
Now back from her trip, she is working nonstop! She will be participating in the Art @IU symposium coming up in April, showing some of her work and leading a discussion on social action in dance. “That’s part of the heritage of our field. That’s how it started—a revolt against the class system of ballet.”
Liz is also expanding a piece that she choreographed for a dance concert entitled The Rise of Otherness. “It’s about sameness. It’s a duet for two women and I’m calling them my Super Cool Angels because they just sort of move and breath together and it’s really groovy.” She will be presenting this piece on April 1st in the Studio Theatre (yours truly will also be participating in this concert—as an actor, not a dancer!) This concert will also be presented again next semester as part of the College of Arts and Sciences 2017 Themester, which is focusing on ‘Diversity, Difference, Otherness.’
This summer she will be doing a mini-tour of the East Coast with her professional Group, Elizabeth Shea Dance. She will be showing her concert The Rise of Otherness at Sharp Dance Company in Philadelphia as part of Act One-Act Two. Her company was also selected to perform at the Footprints Performance Festival in New York City taking place in early summer. And finally one of her other works Hunger Moon was selected for the 5th Annual Somatic Conference & Performance Festival at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York in July.
And as if that was not enough on her plate, this summer Liz and IU faculty member Allen Hahn will be making a dance film together thanks to a generous New Frontiers in Arts and Humanities grant they received through IU. “Dance for film is a new genre. Most dance for film is site specific and so this one is going to be made at the Old Woolery Stone Mill on Tapp Road. I’m really interested in what happens to an economy or a group of people when the life they know is taken away—like manufacturing or the coal industry. So a lot of ethnological research is being done and will influence the choreography.”
As you can see, Liz is an in-demand teacher and choreographer. We are so glad to have her here at Indiana University!
Ashley Dillard is a 3rd year MFA actor at Indiana University. She has been seen most recently as Kate in Dancing at Lughnasa at IU, Katherine in Home at the BPP, Marianne in Sense and Sensibility and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream both for IU Summer Theater. Though she calls beautiful Bloomington home now, she originally hails from Highland, IN.