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U-M’s Daring Dances launches public programming in Southeast Michigan

Daring Dances, a curatorial program created by Clare Croft, an associate professor of dance and American culture at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, announces its first public events: three upcoming performances in Detroit and Ann Arbor.

According to Croft, Daring Dances offers a platform to present dance work and provide live encounters through community engagement, using bodies to stage dissent and invite difficult, but necessary conversations.

“I think dance offers us languages and strategies for trying to understand really complex problems, and the opportunity to try to understand them from where we live,” said Croft. “These aren’t just problem that are out in the world—they are affecting lives in Southeast Michigan, too.”

From February 27 to March 5, 10 artists from New York-based Skeleton Architecture – a Bessie Award-winning collective of black womyn and gender nonconforming artists rooted in the rigor of improvisation – will be in residence in Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Skeleton Architecture performing at Movement Research at St. Mark’s Church in NYC (Photographer: Ian Douglas)

Performances begin on Sunday, March 3 at 3pm, when Skeleton Architecture joins U-M alumna Jennifer Harge (BFA ’08, dance) and her Detroit-based company Harge Dance Stories for a first public sharing at Light Box, a performance venue in Detroit. The improvisatory performance is centered around the discussion of “Choreographing Black Space.” Light Box is located in Detroit’s historic LaSalle Gardens neighborhood, at 8641 Linwood Street. Tickets are a suggested donation of $10 and available at the door.

There will also be a free public workshop led by Skeleton Architecture in Ann Arbor, “Listening on the Pleasure Boundary,” scheduled for Wednesday, February 27 from 5:30-7pm, open to all students and dealing with the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in dance. The events will be held at Alice Lloyd Studio in Alice Lloyd Hall on the U-M campus, located at 100 Observatory Street, Ann Arbor.

Anna Martine Whitehead performing Memory Loser at University of Michigan (Photographer: Sarah Nesbitt)

As the 2018-2019 Daring Dances artist-in-residence, Chicago-based performance artist Anna Martine Whitehead and visual artist/musician Damon Lock premiere their new work Notes on Territory on March 15 and 16 at Detroit’s Jam Handy, located at 2900 E. Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $12 and available at notesonterritory.brownpapertickets.com.

Notes on Territory was developed through a creative residency at the U-M Department of Dance studios, and is a performance-lecture on the history of containment architecture and freedom practices. The work uses the prison as prism to consider architecture, surveillance, and freedom. A free workshop, led by Whitehead and Locks in collaboration with the Detroit Justice Center, will be held at Jam Handy at 12 pm on Saturday, March 16, focused on the question “How can dance help imagine a just city?”

To provide further opportunities for U-M students, the program also developed a Daring Dances Student Fellowship, designed to offer financial support and mentorship for performance-based projects and professional development centered on dance and social justice. Three student groups will perform work developed through the semester-long program on Sunday, April 15 at 7pm at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, located at 525 S. State Street, Ann Arbor.

Croft developed Daring Dances following her curatorial work on “EXPLODE! queer dance festival,” which began in Ann Arbor, toured to New York, and will tour nationally in 2019. A dance scholar with a focus on 20th and 21st century American dance, Croft wanted dance students to connect with, understand, and be more involved in the Southeast Michigan community and its arts landscape.

“Our students are often on the frontlines of gentrification in the communities in which they settle after graduation,” said Croft. “I want them to truly consider the places where they live—who’s making art there now, who has lived there before? How does knowing where you live help you to be a more ethical neighbor? We need to introduce these ideas to students while they are in school so they will practice them when they move on.”

Visit daringdances.org for more information.