Dancing in the air

Fine art inspires choreography for trapeze dance

Posted: Thursday, May 18, 2000

Since Becky Engstrom had knee surgery last year, the dancer and choreographer has taken to the air with her work.

``Since my knee surgery, floor work is a lot harder for me. Trapeze allows me to dance without the weight on my legs, but it still uses grace and fluidity,'' said Engstrom, a trapeze artist since her college days.

Engstrom's trapeze dance will be one of nine dances featured this weekend in ``Visions,'' a performance piece of original dance inspired by visual art created by local artists Rie Munoz, Dale DeArmond and Jim Fowler.

``Each (dance) piece builds out of the visual art that inspired that segment,'' Engstrom said. ``But each choreographer incorporated the visual aspect into their work in a different way.''

The art responsible for the creation of each dance was photographed, enlarged and will be prominently displayed during the performance it inspired.

``When Becky suggested it to me, I was so amazed,'' said Rie Munoz, whose work was the basis of four of the nine segments that will be performed in ``Visions.'' ``It's such a creative idea.''

Besides receiving permission from local artists to use their work, Engstrom recruited the help of choreographers Anthony T. Manuel of Seattle and local ballet teachers Rio Mitani and Christian Martinu.

The three choreographers will perform their work along with local dancers and Manuel's dance troupe, Fusion Dance Company, from Seattle.

``This company is a fusion of dance styles that leaves you wondering where they find the time to be skilled in so many areas,'' Engstrom said.

``Visions'' not only incorporates visual art and dance, it also blends dance styles.

``Anthony specializes in fusion jazz. Christian and Rio are highly trained in traditional ballet who have broken out into modern ballet, and I love modern dance,'' Engstrom said.

Accompanying the various dance pieces, the music will range from classical music to Michael Jackson songs, used in one of Manuel's hip hop pieces, said Engstrom.

For the dance inspired by Jim Fowler's acrylic paintings of the Mendenhall Glacier, Engstrom turned to her composer husband to create the music to match the dance.

``The piece itself is in three movements, as is the dance,'' said Andy Engstrom, who is also a drummer. ``I took the glacial theme along with the images of Jim Fowler's paintings and put them all together using orchestral music, actual calving sounds, piano and drums.''

``Visions'' will be performed at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Juneau-Douglas High School Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for students 18 or younger, $15 in advance and $17 at the door. Tickets are available at Hearthside and Rainy Day books and the Rie Munoz Gallery.

Manuel, a frequent guest artist with Juneau Dance Unlimited, will also offer classes over the weekend. A hip hop dance class will be held from 1 to 2 p.m., and a jazz dance class will take place from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Both classes will be held at the JDHS studio located behind the auditorium stage. The cost per class is $10 or $15 for both. Call 463-5639 to reserve a space.

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