Join trumpeter and composer Mark Rapp and choreographer Stephanie Wilkins at the Harbison Theater for a night of the weaving of two art forms. With live jazz music and varied styles of contemporary dance, Woven: Life in Notes and Steps “alludes to how everyone is connected in the giant web of life, like threads strung together,” says Rapp. The show is comprised of eleven live, original musical movements alongside contemporary ballet and swing dancing. “Each piece, each melody is choreographed while the solos are improvised by both dancers and instrumentalists—inspiring one another—creating an exciting, organic and unique artistic presentation each time.”
Rapp and Wilkins did not meet before this project, but found they had much in common during their collaboration. Both artists are originally from South Carolina and found great success living and performing in New York after completing their MFAs in their respective arts disciplines. The pieces now known as Woven were born in New Orleans in the 1990s as part of Rapp’s master’s thesis. He knew he wanted to incorporate dance, but it wasn’t until he linked up with Harbison Theater at Midlands Tech’s executive director, Katie Fox. After viewing some DVDs of local choreographers’ work, Rapp felt a connection with Wilkins’s choreography. For the first few months of rehearsal, Wilkins and her six dancers had to perform to recorded music. “The first time we worked with the musicians, it was glorious. It was amazing. It was so different. It brought the dance to life so much more,” Wilkins says. The different movements in Woven, some traditional jazz, some contemporary jazz or swing, inspired a knitting of different dance styles that changes with the music. The very nature of jazz, its aliveness and undulation, allows for the dancers to improvise at times.
Woven will be the third performance to come out of the Harbison Theater at Midlands Tech Performance Incubator. The project aims to promote sustainable local employment, especially for artists. “It reflects the college’s overall mission of connecting capable people with sustainable rewarding careers,” Fox says. “We want performing artists to live in our community.” Fox hopes that the show will travel to other stages and believes it will enrich the lives of the Midlands community. -Kirby Knowlton
Woven: Life in Notes and Steps Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College 7300 College St., Irmo Saturday, January 17th at 7:30 p.m. $22 harbisontheatre.org / 803-407-5011