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DITA continues pushing education, performance boundaries

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This summer, through new dance-on-camera pieces and extensive master classes, DITA (Dance in the Annex) continues to celebrate its mission: securing, promoting and enhancing contemporary dance in Grand Rapids by fostering an appreciation of dance through education and performance opportunities.
Underwriting support from:

Credits: "These Four Walls"

Music by:
Kent County String Band

Concept by:
Erin Wilson

Movement Score:
Amy Wilson

Amy Wilson
Rachel Finan
Marci Stembol
Sarah Powell
Seth Thompson

Mike Cook

Set design:
Seth Thompson

Seth Thompson
Michael Cook

Seth Thompson
Michael Cook

Michael Cook

/Luisa Silva

DITA (Dance in the Annex) proudly debuts its new dance-on-camera piece, These Four Walls,  with footage shot June 15, 2012 during SiTE:LAB at Blandford Nature Center. The piece explores the idea of confined space, imposed by external forces. Four dancers in formal attire find themselves at odds with a frantic man in a bunny suit. Boxed in, the dancers struggle for their freedom.

DITA took its name from the Wealthy Theatre Annex (1110 Wealthy Street) the community dance studio space where its master classes take place. In addition to regular performances at Community Media Center's Wealthy Theatre, DITA does site-specific work at locations throughout the city, and produces videos in a variety of settings.

"Collaborations have become so predominant in these productions that it's almost unfair to call them DITA performances, anymore," says DITA Artistic Director Amy Wilson.

Wilson said dance is inherently collaborative, involving relationships with the audience, costumers, musicians, technical crew, photographers, writers, choreographers, and many more.

"The artists I consider peers are looking beyond conventional collaborations, considering all partnerships on the table, instead of defaulting to traditional ones," Wilson says. "There's no reason not to imagine a string band, out in the woods, playing in a giant bird's nest, with a bunny, while you dance about in a formal gown.

"Unconventional collaborations afford much more interesting possibilities - and why not?"

Full circle: performance and education

Wilson says DITA dancers and choreographers are at the beginning of a journey, and the goal is growth.

"Every year, we should be doing pieces that challenge ourselves and our audiences, we have to keep pushing ourselves as a dance community," she says. "We are desperately pushing the idea that dance is an art form to be taken seriously, in Grand Rapids."

To provide opportunities for growth, Wilson arranges master classes on a regular basis, open to all intermediate and advance dancers - bringing some of the nation's most important master instructors to Grand Rapids.

"We're all students, and these classes translate to better performances," Wilson says, "and vice versa."

  • July 26, DITA presents a contemporary technical class with Francis Lawrence, 7 p.m. at Wealthy Theatre Annex.
  • July 31, Aug. 1 and Aug. 2, DITA presents a three-day workshop with nationally recognized artist educator Sherrie Barr - exploring the physical practice of dance through technique and improvisation. Click here for more details about this extraordinary opportunity.
  • Aug. 15, DITA presents Megan Pitcher teaching a post-modern technique class, 7 p.m. at the Annex.
  • Aug. 27-30, DITA presents "The Evolution of Flight," a four-day workshop with legendary master instructor Daelik. Click here for information about this class.

Wilson said the best is yet to come.

"We're exploring wider regional collaborations, we've collected all our dance-on-camera pieces in one place, we're pre-producing a video piece to be shot in a scorched field in the middle of nowhere, readying the fourth annual Salmagundi event (Nov. 9 at Wealthy Theatre) and we just locked in May 11, 2013 for the next Trip The Light.

"This thing has taken on a life of its own, and it's possible because Grand Rapids has embraced it, and for that we are very grateful."

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