"Bodies of Light," the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance’s Winter Dance Concert, will present works from guests and faculty this weekend at the Ruth N. Halls Theatre.
The performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 to 11 and 2 p.m. Feb. 10 and 11. Tickets can be purchased online.
Elizabeth Shea, associate professor of contemporary dance, said many of the works shine light on pressing social issues.
“The history of modern dance really started as making a social statement,” said Shea, whose new piece “Hot Dust (obscured galaxies)” closes the concert.
She said contemporary dance legend Bill T. Jones' 1989 work “D-Man in Waters,” will be a highlight of the concert. She said Jones' work is inspired by the AIDS crisis.
Assistant professor Nyama McCarthy-Brown said her new piece, “Healing at the Source” draws on themes in African Diaspora and the Ifa spiritual system, which originated from Yoruba culture in Nigeria, New Orleans, Brazil and Cuba.
The piece also follows dancers as they discover their water was poisoned and seek out Orisha spiritual guides for help.
McCarthy-Brown said the piece was inspired by recent water pollution issues surrounding the Keystone Pipeline; Hurricane Maria; Flint, Michigan; and Cape Town, South Africa.
McCarthy-Brown said she often focuses on themes of the African diaspora. Her new work is designed to expose dancers to how culture moves through time and space, she said.
Assistant professor Selene Carter said she will work with guest artists to present an improvisational piece exploring the influences of human movement.
She said she hopes to explore personal experience, background and race in the dance, weaving the dancers' personal voices into the creative process.
Carter said her piece is based on Emily Dickinson’s creative method of writing poetry on small spaces on an envelope.
The dances also revolves around themes of light, Shea said.
Shea said her new work “Hot Dust (obscured galaxies)” was inspired by her love for astronomy. She said "hot dust galaxies" are among the most luminous galaxies in the universe, but dense dust obscures them from human perception.
Shea said the dance took on a deeper meaning when she found out her former student Ricardo Alverez, an IU alumnus and choreographer, had died.
She said she began to see the piece as an exploration of birth, life and death. She dedicated the piece to her former student as a tribute.
The concert also features choreographer Stephanie Nugent’s new work “A Shadow Passes,” which plays with concepts of light and dark.
Shea said she believes audiences will find the concert uplifting.
“In times of deep trauma and feeling darkness in our lives and perhaps around the world, dance is one thing that can really lift us up,” she said.
A previous version of this article had grammar errors and had claimed that much of Bill T. Jones's work was inspired by the AIDS crisis. Only "D-Man in Waters" was. The IDS regrets these errors.