Tom Strini

Simone Ferro’s Danceworks show

By - Oct 28th, 2009 11:08 pm
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Simone Ferro

Simone Ferro

Two years ago, Simone Ferro staged an evening of dances largely based on folk and street dances she saw in Brazil. The concerts took place at Danceworks, and they involved local dancers and video.

That was Simone Ferro and Friends 1. The above paragraph also precisely describes Simone Ferro and Friends 2, which opens Friday at Danceworks.

What’s the difference?

“I’m in a different place in my history,” Ferro said, over coffee late Tuesday afternoon.

“And Danceworks has undergone a transformation in the last two years, since Sarah [Wilbur, Danceworks’ long-time artistic director] left. The change in the group has brought a new kind of energy. New faces change my works.”

Ferro explained that her process is collaborative with the dancers. Their bodies and ideas help to shape her works. The turnover of leadership and some personnel at Danceworks naturally changes her approach. So does natural student turnover at the  University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where Ferro teaches dance. Her most accomplished students appear in her off-campus shows; two years at a university is generational change.

The Brazilian influence, however, remains a constant. Ferro is from Brazil, and she has been back and forth several times to research folk dance and popular music. Video of street carnival dancing was prominent in Ferro and Friends 1, and several numbers in Ferro 2 are based on specific steps or the general idiom and rhythm of Brazilian dance.

“It’s very sinuous,” she said. “Everything in Brazil has a significant African influence.”

New elements, at least in their explicitness, in Ferro 2 are jazz and ballet. Music by jazz bassist and composer Charlie Haden and guitarist Pat Metheny. In “Fingerprint,” with music by Nacao Zumbi, Mary-Elizabeth Fenn will get up on ballet point in a highly physical duet with Ben Follensbee.

Video of Fenn and Follensbee in Rehearsal:

Also new is violinist Bernard Zinck, of the UWM music department. Ferro — who appeared via video but not live in Ferro 1 — will dance and interact with Zinck while he plays works by Ysaye, Burt Levy and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson.

Kelly Bierter, of Danceworks Performance Company, in rehearsal for Ferro and Friends 2.

Karly Bierzter, of Danceworks Performance Company, in rehearsal for Ferro and Friends 2.

On paper, Ferro 2 looks intense, with six numbers crammed into just over an hour, with no intermission. Two duets, a quartet, a solo, all for past or present UWM dancers, and two numbers for the six women and two men of the Danceworks Performance Company are on the bill. Sixteen performers are involved, and all of them brought their minds as well as their bodies to bear on the dances.

“Some are more aggressive and presentational,” Ferro said. “Some are more introspective. You learn something about them by how they design their movement. It makes a difference who they are, as people and as dancers.”

What: Simone Ferro and Friends 2

Where: Danceworks, 1661 N. Water St.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30; 4 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, and Saturday, Nov. 7, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8.

How Much: $25 reserved, $20 general, $15 student/senior, at the Danceworks website and by phone at 414 277-8480.

Cast and Credits

Simone Ferro, Bernard Zinck (violinist), Dylan Baker, SimonAndreas Eichinger, Holly Kesky, Abby Server, Mary Madsen, Mary-Elizabeth Fenn, Ben Follensbee, and the Danceworks Performance Company, Dani Kuepper, artistic director: Kelly Anderson, Karly Biertzer, Holly Keskey, Dani Kuepper, Steven Moses, Sarah Nesler, Christal Wagner. Lights, Technical, Video: Iain Court. Set: Anthony Lyons. Stage Manager: Katie Whitaker. Choreography: Simone Ferro in collaboration with the performers.

Categories: Culture Desk, Dance, Preview

0 thoughts on “Preview: Simone Ferro’s Danceworks show”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks to Chris Biertzer for pointing out the error in the photo caption above. I fixed it. — Tom Strini

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