'Breath' in the cold air

Dance company celebrates nature with outside performance

Dance company celebrates nature with outside performance

January 15, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Goose Route Arts Collaborative's latest piece, "Breath," hopes to debunk the myth that introspection is better done indoors.

So the modern dance company's artists have created a piece that takes the audience outdoors in January.

"We were interested in getting people to connect with the environment at a time when they'd rather be inside," said Kitty Clark, Goose Route's artistic director.

The modern dance company will do three performances of "Breath" on Saturday on the National Conservation Training Center grounds. Parts of the dance take place inside the Commons building, and a portion of the dance is outdoors in a ravine. The audience will be asked to watch the outdoors segment from a bridge over the ravine.

"Breath" is about introspection, growth and rebirth. You could think of it as finding beauty in the starkness of winter, hence the contrast of bold blue costumes against the backdrop of dull browns and grays outside.


Clark said that the piece is also about combining three art forms - dance, music and visual arts - and giving them equal weight. The costume doesn't simply accessorize the dancer's body. The music isn't just the accompaniment.

"I think when you combine those three things, you end up with a piece that's richer and has a lot more texture to it," said Clark, who choreographed the piece.

Shepherdstown-area musician Cam Millar, Clark's husband, was the composer and musical director. For musical inspiration, Millar said he drew on his own memories growing up in Canada.

"Winter grows on you," Millar said. "You associate different sounds and colors growing up. Different moods of the season."

Visual artist Colleen Tracey created the indoor and outdoor costumes along with the sculptures and clay tiles used in the piece.

"The costumes were born out of trying to create a luminous contrast in the gray woods and I felt like blue and breath sort of embodied winter," Tracey said.

The outdoor costumes are billowy robes with long sleeves. "Something that would undulate and move when we did," said Tracey, who also dances in the piece.

"It's not a traveling dance, so the gestures are bold. But there's a stillness to them, like the trees," she said.

If you go ...

WHAT: "Breath," an indoor-outdoor performance presented by Goose Route Arts Collaborative

WHERE: National Conservation Training Center (NCTC), Commons building and surrounding area. NCTC is off Shepherd Grade Road, just north of Shepherdstown, W.Va.

WHEN: 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17

COST: Free

MORE: Learn more about Goose Route Arts Collaborative online,

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