Renowned choreographer, performer and dance educator William “Bill” Evans returns to Hobart and William Smith Colleges for six days of classes for dance teachers and pre-professional dancers in the Bill Evans Teachers Institute and the concurrent Bill Evans Dancers Institute, followed by the 6th Annual Somatic Dance Conference, July 10-14.
A distinguished professor emeritus from the University of New Mexico and professor emeritus from the College at Brockport, SUNY, Evans has taught at Dean College and Providence College as a guest faculty member, and conducted teaching and performing residencies at several colleges and universities, including HWS in 2017 when he created Looming, a new choreographic work for the Dance Department faculty. In addition, Evans is the creative force behind the Bill Evans Dance Company, which has appeared in all 50 states, throughout Mexico and Canada, and has taken Evans to 24 other countries. Evans was the artistic director of Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers and has served as a permanent guest artist in Winnipeg’s Professional Program of the School for Contemporary Dancers for the past 25 years.
Creator of the Evans Modern Dance Technique, Evans began offering Summer Institutes of Dance in 1977 and has held the Bill Evans Teachers Institute annually since 1999 in locations across the United States as well as in Mexico, Scotland, and Canada. Joining Evans in the Teachers Institute is longtime partner and co-founder of the Teachers Institute Don Halquist, professor of elementary education at Rhode Island College. Others attending include former Bill Evans Dance Company members Heather Acomb, Kathy Diehl, Debra Knapp and Suzie Lundgren, as well as authors Allegra Romita and Nancy Romita (Functional Awareness Anatomy in Action for Dancers), HWS Professor of Dance Cadence Whittier (Creative Ballet Teaching: Technique and Artistry for the 21st Century Ballet Dancer) and William Smith graduate Colleen Wahl Culley ’06.
The Teachers Institute provides dance educators the opportunity to deepen their skills while being immersed in a supportive environment of their peers. The Dancers Institute, which runs concurrently, gives undergraduate dance majors and younger professional and pre-professional dancers the opportunity to study forms and approaches they may not have been previously exposed to. In addition to ballet, tap, improvisation, classes for both institutes include Evans Modern Dance Technique, Bartenieff Fundamentals, Yoga for Dancers, Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement, Jazz through a Somatic Lens, Dance Pedagogy and Somatic Anatomy labs. Participants may elect to dance in a “Creation and Performance Workshop” with Evans or Halquist on Tuesday, July 10 during the Welcome Concert of the Somatic Dance Conference.
Now in its sixth year, the Somatic Dance Conference, “Making Your Corner of the World a Better Place: Somatics, Science, Pedagogy and Performance” returns to the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts under the co-direction of Evans and HWS Professor of Dance and Dance Department Chair, Cynthia Williams. This year’s conference features keynote presenters and performers Clarence Brooks, Evans, Eric Franklin, Halquist, Debra Knapp, Allegra Romita, Nancy Romita and Edisa Weeks along with more than 75 presenters and 50 dance artists.
Conference participants include dance faculty from colleges and universities across the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, and somatic practitioners who are experts in various somatic modalities including Alexander Technique, BodyMind Centering, Feldenkrais, Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis, Pilates, Shin Somatics, Skinner Release Technique and Yoga. Sessions focus on a variety of somatic and/or pedagogical applications, ranging from teaching dance forms through a somatic lens to encouraging creativity through physics, Tarot, cross-cultural choreographic collaboration and technology. Plenary sessions with keynote speakers include “Dancer Wellness and Self-care to Empower a Growth Mindset,” “Play, Process and Performance: Delving into Personal Stories to Create Devised Works,” “Pondering the Art and Craft of Dance Pedagogy in 2018” and “Dynamic Neurocognitive Imagery.”
The conference features presentations by HWS faculty members Associate Professor of Dance Michelle Iklé “Shin Somatics Intuitive Dance,” Assistant Professor of Dance Kelly Johnson “Choreographic Choices Matter” and Professor of Dance Cadence Whittier “Bridging Kinesiological and Somatic Approaches in Ballet Technique,” as well as William Smith graduate Erin Law ’03 “Relationships Embodied.” Former adjunct faculty members Kathy Diehl, Heather Roffe and Courtney World will also present and perform.
The Somatic Dance Conference features four evening performances, open to the public, July 10-13. Each concert showcases a program of solos, duets, trios and ensemble works by acclaimed choreographers and dance artists. Tuesday’s concert features newly created work performed by Evans’ students; a tap solo performed by Evans to the music of George Gershwin; a solo performed by University of North Carolina Associate Professor of Dance E.E. Balcos with slide projection design and live music by artist Erik Watterkotte; two solos by Florida Atlantic Professor of Dance Clarence Brooks; and “It’s a Horserace” by dance theatre artist Claire Porter. In 2017, Porter created the solo piece “Overruled” for Professor of Dance and Chair of the Dance Department Cynthia Williams. Other pieces in the Tuesday concert are Kenyon College Professor of Dance Kora Radella’s duet “Reckoning,” a solo from New England-based dance artist Ali Kenner Brodsky, and a group piece from Nazareth College Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Heather Roffe.
The concerts on Wednesday and Thursday feature choreography by 16 other artists who bring their work from Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia and Connecticut to perform in Deming Theatre. Dance forms presented over these two nights feature contemporary modern dance styles including Irish dance, aerial dance and improvisation.
The final concert is on Friday, July 13, featuring Montreal’s Mariko Tanabe, internationally-based Christine Germain, former BEDCO artists Diehl and World, Philadelphia’s Theresa Schweingruber and conference keynoters Evans and Halquist in Porter’s duet, “In Gloves.”
Current and recent HWS graduates are returning for the BEDI and the conference, including Eleanor “Ellie” Cherry ’18, Sarah Kloos ’18, Molly Powers ’21, Andrew Scammell ’18.
All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. in Deming Theatre of the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Tickets are $5 general admission and are available at the Gearan Center box office, starting at 6:30 p.m. each night. For more information about the Bill Evans Intensives, the Somatic Dance Conference or the concerts, please contact Cynthia Williams, (315) 781-3495 Williams@hws.edu