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Zhen Ren Chuan 2021
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AFD Theatre: Angel Street
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Town artist sets kinetic stage for dance exploring women's shame

Part of Adria Arch set for Luminarian Dance Contradictions. / Adria Arch photoPart of Adria Arch set.UPDATED, Oct. 20: Remember the dancers who lit up the Park Avenue water tower in 2014? If not, see the text here and photos here >> 

Luminarium Dance is teaming up with Arlington artist Adria Arch in helping to present “CONTRADICTIONS + Casual Self Loathing,” shedding light on the universal stories women share. Three years in the making, the show opens Nov. 5 in Dedham.

Arch, a signature force behind establishing and supporting public art in Arlington, created the set – a kinetic installation, which choreographer Kimberleigh Holman says “looks like an exploding notebook” that will activate the space above the audience.

Asked to comment, Arch noted: “My aim is to support Kim’s vision and choreography while enhancing and playing with the concept of 'middle school dance awkwardness and aspirations.'”

Adria Arch
Adria Arch
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She has exhibited her work widely and is included in many private and public collections including the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Fidelity Corporation, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. In 2019 her work was featured at the Fitchburg Art Museum, and in 2020 at the Cahoon Museum of American Art on Cape Cod, MA. Two of Arch’s installations are concurrently featured at Brattleboro Museum in Vermont and Danforth Art Museum in Framingham. 

Lifelong artist, town resident

Arch, a lifelong artist, has been an Arlington resident since the mid-1980s. Her studio is in an industrial building in Newton. Her work has recently been exhibited at Brattleboro Art Museum, Cahoon Museum of Art and the Boston Sculptors Gallery. Upcoming shows include the Nearby Gallery in Newton this spring and the Evanston Art Center near Chicago in winter 2023.

In a news release, Holman said she found the perfect location for her new dance performance “Contradictions” -- a former school gymnasium. That’s because many of the more than 50 women she interviewed about shame, awkward encounters and guilt while developing the piece told her stories centered on gym classes and school dances. 

Luminarium will present “Contradictions” for two performances, Nov. 5 and 6, both at 8 p.m., at the Motherbrook Arts Center, 123 High developing the piece told her stories centered on gym classes and school dances. St., Dedham.

Background of dance

Holman began working on the piece three years ago during a residency at Endicott College. In hearing her dance students talk about their experiences, Holman decided to explore how women share stories across generations and demographics, and began having deep conversations with a wide range of women.

Despite mining some somber and difficult topics, Holman says her conversations uncovered common intergenerational experiences that became the basis for an evening-length work with humor, levity and physical comedy inspired by the  familiar and often funny reflections that came from examining painful topics.  

“Everyone’s got baggage — those minor mortifications that haunt us forever — like regrettable haircuts or those awkward hugs that were intended to be handshakes, but many of us also have childhood or relationship traumas that stay with us for a lifetime,” Holman says. “We made a dance that uses humor to celebrate discomfort and awkwardness, looks at why we carry shame for unimportant things, and inspires us to work our way out from under these issues.”

During early rehearsals for “Contradictions,” Holman says dancers told personal stories, many around awkward boyfriend moments, and some of which are reflected in the show. “We joked about how the discussions had ‘conjured’ people back into our lives,” Holman says. “So now there’s a running thread through the piece about conjuring up boys from middle school.” 

Vintage school equipment

To heighten the experience for audiences, the Luminarium artistic team – whose set Arch guides – incorporates vintage school equipment, such as overhead projectors, to light the stage and interact with the performers.

Much of Luminarium Dance’s work, as residents may recall at the water tower in 2014, is built on exploring intersections of lighting and contemporary movement.

A participatory preshow “warm-up” will encourage attendees to share their own awkward stories and play improv games that Holman says will underscore the commonality of personal experiences.

Holman lives in Dedham. Dancers in “Contradictions” include Jessica Chang and Katie McGrail of Brookline, Melenie Diarbekirian of Somerville and Amy Mastrangelo of Medford.

General-admission tickets are $25, $20 for students, seniors, Dedham residents and Boston Dance Alliance members. Tickets are available here >> 

Covid safety

Attendees will be asked to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test at the door. Current local guidelines require audiences to wear a mask throughout the performance. 

Supporting “Contradictions” are the Boston Foundation LAB Fund and the New England Foundation for the Arts New England Dance Fund.


Oct. 1, 2021: 'All Night' Strut' to open at AFD Thursday
 
Jan. 7, 2015: Widescreen dance at water tower wins state award

 


This news announcement was published Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, and updated Oct. 20, to add photo showing part of Arch's set.

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