GroundWorks DanceTheater performs to live music in June

Dancers Felice Bagley and Damien Highfield of GroundWorks DanceTheater in "Hindsight" by Lynn Taylor Corbett. (Photo by Dale Dong.)

Collaboration between dancers and musicians is a special experience for the artists and the audience. That’s why David Shimotakahara is excited about the upcoming June performances of his company, GroundWorks DanceTheater, at Cain Park and at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM).

“We will perform with live music at both venues, which is a rare treat,” Shimotakahara said. “Dancers respond to working with musicians in a different way than dancing to a recording. The performance is much more alive—it lives and breathes as both the dancers and the audience respond to musicians. It’s really a wonderful exchange of energy.”

GroundWorks is slated for its 12th-annual performance series at Cain Park June 12–14 at 7 p.m. and at CIM’s Kulas Hall on June 28 at 8 p.m., with collaborating partner ChamberFest Cleveland.

At Cain Park, GroundWorks will premiere a new work by Shimotakahara set to “Rhythm Song” by Paul Smadbeck. Luke Rinderknecht  will be the solo musician on marimba. The percussionist, a Shaker Heights High School graduate who went on to study at the prestigious Juilliard School, recently moved back to Cleveland with his wife Annika Sheaff, a GroundWorks dancer.

 “Luke is such a highly accomplished musician and it’s wonderful to have connected with him through Annika,” Shimotakahara said. “I had the sound of the marimba in my ear when I was selecting music for this new work, and ‘Rhythm Song’ captured my imagination.”

Rinderknecht is no newcomer to “Rhythm Song” or to working with dance. He said it was the first piece he learned in high school and that he used it for his successful Juilliard audition. After graduating from the school, he worked for five years as manager of its chamber music program, and has worked with various dance groups including Dance Heginbotham; with the band Alarm Will Sound at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and with Elliot Feld for a dance with the Juilliard Dance Ensemble. Rinderknecht has appeared on stages around the world.

Other dances on the Cain Park program, which will be performed to recorded music, include “All I Do” by David Parker, set to music from “Singin’ in the Rain”; and Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s “Hindsight,” set to music by Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders.

The CIM performance with ChamberFest is set to composer Tan Dun’s “Ghost Opera,” which was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet and premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1995. In this groundbreaking presentation, Shimotakahara and his dancers choreograph the work for the first time. Preceding the dance premiere, ChamberFest will perform “Three Short Works for Three Percussionists” and “Trio for Piano and Strings in E minor No. 2, Op. 67” by Shostakovich.

Shimotakahara said that performing to live music often seems a luxury because of the expense involved, but he was awarded the Creative Workforce Fellowship by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, which enables him to explore more live music in performance. “I wanted to use the grant to advance my work in a direct way,” he said, “and being able to collaborate with musicians this year is making use of the funds in one of the best ways possible.”

Pam Barr

Pam Barr is a 30-year Cleveland Heights resident and a principal of Barr Communications, a boutique marketing and public relations consulting firm based in Cleveland Heights. GroundWorks is a client.

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Volume 7, Issue 6, Posted 12:46 PM, 06.02.2014