Professor of Dance Cynthia Williams is among select faculty from colleges and universities across Western New York who were invited to perform a duet with a partner of their choice as part of “The Duets Project” of the New York State DanceForce. Seven distinguished, internationally recognized choreographers created or reconstructed works for the project and Williams will perform a piece with her daughter, Kat McCorkle, which was created for them by renowned New York choreographer Jane Comfort.
The piece explores the mother-daughter relationship from multiple images and perspectives: how do mothers (both animal and human) teach their offspring the right behaviors and social codes? How do mothers simultaneously create safe boundaries for curious youngsters and also provide the support necessary for independence and discovery? In the creation and rehearsal process, Comfort gave Williams and McCorkle specific images, movement material and a structure to follow, and then gave them the freedom to develop the work together in collaboration with her.
“The process of working with Jane Comfort on this duet has been challenging and rewarding in equal parts,” says Williams, who first hosted Comfort and her company as guest artists at HWS several years ago for a teaching and performing residency, and has written about her and presented papers on her work in academic conferences.
She explains Comfort was in Geneva for a 24-hour period in July, at which time she gave Williams and McCorkle the structure for the Duets piece and some movement ideas which she had begun exploring with two company members in preparation for the July session. Since then, mother and daughter have collaboratively built the piece as it exists now, working with Comfort long-distance via videos and email as they hone the dance in the studio.
“I love being able to work collaboratively with my daughter as an artistic equal and to create further bonds in our relationship through this process. I am so honored to have a piece created for us by such a fantastic artist/choreographer and person,” says Williams.
McCorkle, who is a junior at the University of Rochester majoring in international relations and theatre, with a minor in Arabic, agrees it has been an incredible experience. “Working with such an esteemed artist as Ms. Comfort is an amazing opportunity, and I’ve really enjoyed collaborating with her and my mother on this piece. Working so closely with my mother has also given me a unique perspective on her career and her passion for dance, and I’m so impressed by her talent as an artist.”
She graduated from Geneva High School in 2012 and has been active in Geneva Youth Theatre, the Nancy Curvin Playground Players, and Geneva Theatre Guild. This summer she was a co-director with Pat Collins on the GTGYT production of “Honk.”
The Duets Project is a NY State DanceForce project created by Professor Emerita at the College at Brockport Jacqueline Davis. The concerts take place Thursday, Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m., and on Friday, Sept. 5, at 4 and 7:30 p.m. in the Hartwell Dance Theater, Kenyon Street, on the Brockport campus. Tickets are $16/general, $11/seniors, and $8.50/students. They are available online at fineartstix.brockport.edu, by phone at (585) 395-2787, or at the Tower Fine Arts Center Box Office, 180 Holley Street, Brockport.