Tom Strini

NomadicLIMBS dance collective to flex this week

Thom Dancy, formerly of Milwaukee Ballet II, reassembles his company for a second summer, with performances at Next Act Theatre this weekend.

By - Jul 24th, 2013 04:00 am

Thom Dancy, founder of Nomadic Limbs Dance Collective

Thom Dancy has moved on after dancing the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons with Milwaukee Ballet II. But he hasn’t quite left Milwaukee behind. Dancy is spending the summer here, between a stint with the Grand Rapids Ballet in 2012-13 and a coming season with the Big Muddy Dance Company in St. Louis.

Dancy came back to direct the second season of the aptly named NomadicLIMBS company, comprising dancers from Milwaukee and all over. They will perform Thursday through Sunday (July 25-28) at Next Act Theatre.

“I wanted to keep Nomadic going as a summer company,” Dancy said, between rehearsals in steam-room conditions at Bucketworks. “I haven’t lost my commitment to Milwaukee. I’ve been back almost every month. I think NomadicLIMBS will be here for a while.”

Dancy, Isaac Sharratt, Justin Leaf and Cheyla Clawson contributed dances to the upcoming program. Dancy’s piece will involve a rolling piano, with Stephern Ayers playing Chopin on wheels. Even with recorded music and an invisible piano, the dance showed winning charm at rehearsal. Sharratt, whom we know as a strong and very interesting Milwaukee Ballet dancer, supplied 2 a.m. Trickle, an amusing, antic work set to antique jazz. Nomadic will revive Justin Leaf’s White Jacket Only, from 2010. Leaf, based in Minneapolis, made a musically eclectic, rather surrealistic dance. It posits the ensemble as a tight-knit bunch of school kids, with the Milwaukee Ballet’s Nicole Teague as odd girl out.

Nicole Teague, part of NomadicLIMBS. Photo by Jenn Mazza.

Nicole Teague is the “odd girl out” in Justin Leaf’s “White Jacket Only,” one of four pieces to be performed at Nomadic Limbs’ summer show. Photo credit Jenn Mazza.

The dances all lean toward athletic fun. Though all the dancers are ballet trained, this is modern dance.

“A hybrid aesthetic is our aesthetic,” Dancy said. “We appreciate the leg work of ballet and the expressive torso of modern dance. We’re staying away from pointe shoes for now.”

In his entrepreneurial spirit, at least, Dancy leans toward modern dance. Ballet students look for jobs; modern dance grads figure out how to make their own jobs.

“Our whole budget is under $10,000,” he said. “We have donors and get some grants. I campaign day and night. I’m broke. But there’s satisfaction in it.”

Dancy might or might not be able to pay himself a little something after the summer’s final accounting, but he will pay his dancers for sure. And he’s scheming to get them more paid work, by running “Nomadic Intensives” at private dance studios around the country. It’s getting some traction.

“I thought about what we can do to make money,” he said. “We can dance and we can teach. We have intensives coming up at Auburn, Alabama, and another near Cedar Rapids.”

Dancy, 26, started NomadicLIMBS after his first season with MBC II. He had started choreographing for dancers in that company and saw opportunity to pursue it in the summer.

“I thought, ‘Why wait until I’m 35?'” he said.

Dancy’s background might have something to do with his adventurous spirit. The North Carolina native thought he would be an opera singer and started school at the New England Conservatory of Music.

“I was just a bad student,” he said. “They kept telling me to go into musical theater.”

So he moved to New York, worked all sorts of minimal jobs, and auditioned relentlessly.

“I always got cut for dancing badly,” Dancy said. “I got mad because I wasn’t good at it, so I started taking classes. Then it became a passion.”

The University of Oklahoma dance program held auditions in New York, Dancy showed up and before he knew it was a dancing Sooner. The school made him choose between ballet and modern, and he chose ballet. While in school there, he took summer intensives at the Joffrey Ballet and the Milwaukee Ballet. The latter led to his stint in MBC II, where Rolando Yanes, Mireille Favarel and Karl von Rabinau became cherished mentors.

“It took me five years and MBC II to finally figure it out,” Dancy said. “I owe a lot to Rolando, Mireille and Karl. During a bout of insanity, I started choreographing for MBC II. I liked it. I’m starting to find my voice.”

Cast: Tara Gragg, Caitlin Sullivan, Nicole Teague, Kayla Schroepfer, Braeden Barnes, Connor Frain, Tyler Schnese, Garrett Glassman, Thom Dancy, with a guest appearance by Justin Leaf.

The Next Act Theatre box office is handling tickets; $15, $12 for students with ID. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Categories: Dance

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