Wild Space Dance Company
Artistic Director Deb Loewen shares her thoughts on the upcoming season, including this weekend's season opener, taking place in Menomonee Valley's new Three Bridges Park.
Wild Space Dance Company will kick off its 2013-14 season in its typical innovative fashion, using the brand-new Three Bridges Park in the Menomonee Valley as the venue for Acts of Wilderness.
Walking through Three Bridges Park, you get the sense of having stumbled upon a secret. Miller Park lies just to the west and the familiar Milwaukee skyline looms in the east, but your feet carry you through old railroad yards and around small hills and ridges. The park opened this summer — burlap stills covers the budding grass and it will take time for the trees to grow large. But the Menomonee River lies just north of the park path, creating a naturally wooded border. Nearby factories provide an industrial backdrop and soundtrack.
Artistic director Deb Loewen was invited to create a piece in the new space, after a successful production in nearby Chimney Park years ago.
“It’s exciting to be on the cusp of something,” said Loewen, “to bring public awareness to the park by doing something ‘artsy.’ It’s really interesting the way they took this land that was nothing and made it so you can actually walk through it. It’s really lovely.”
Acts of Wilderness uses 14 dancers, seen in various combinations as audience members progress along the path. Start time is 7:30 p.m. each night, and so any remaining ambient light will disappear quickly. A lighting designer will provide sparse illumination during the performances.
“I always start with a lot of ideas,” said Loewen, “but I can’t fall in love with anything. I have to take the time with my crew to see what works. How do we make use of that ridge, or this horizontal? How does the body move in dirt? We’ve had to make different connections.
“There’s a beautiful moment when they come up over a ridge,” said Loewen. “I’ve never been able to have dancers sort of rise up; come up from the ground and out. It’s beautiful in the silhouette light.”
Expect more striking visual moments from the choreography. A sneak peek of rehearsal unveiled a slow and deliberate duet on the side of a hill near the river. Down the path, dancers gathered one by one around a retention pond while a single spotlight carried over their prayerful movements. Three Bridges Park supports the choreography with a perfect mix of nature and industry.
Read on for details of Wild Space’s full season. Acts of Wilderness premieres at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, with performances at the same time Friday and Saturday. **NOTE: A RAIN-OUT DATE HAS BEEN ADDED, 7:30 p.m. SUNDAY SEPT. 22. Ticket holders from Thursday night’s performance may use those tickets for any remaining show.
Menomonee Valley’s Three Bridges Park is accessible from the Mitchell Domes Parking Lot, just a short jog from the park entrance, 524 S. Layton Blvd.
Dates: January 30 through February 1 at 7 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., Inova, UWM Kenilworth building
Premise: Wild Space will blur the line between audience and performer, bending the traditional context of exploring a gallery space. A collaborative project with UWM.
Deb’s Thoughts: “This is an opportunity to do something outside of what I usually do. I want it to be a visual feast—there will be video projections in the large white space available. I’m interested in playing with the corners and hallways, and confusing the breakdown of who is performing. What if you changed the behavior of people in a gallery space? What interactions could occur?”
All About Life
Date: May 1 through May 3 at 8 p.m., The Milwaukee Rep’s Stiemke Studio
Premise: Inspired by the photojournalism of Life magazine covers.
Deb’s Thoughts: I have a lot of ideas for this one. Life magazine was so critical, pre-internet. That was the world walking into your living room. I don’t want this performance to be an essay. It will go a lot of places. I want to use voices; it’s a good space for that.