University of Calgary dance professors Michèle Moss and Melanie Kloetzel are exploring contemporary and jazz dance in the performance Split Screen, part of the School of Creative and Performing Arts Professional Series.
Moss examines ways of depicting past, present and future through movement in her piece Falling Into Spirit, which draws from Moss’s Jamaican heritage and the tradition of possession or healing dances. Kloetzel delves into an exploration of female strength and sexuality in TESTament, which investigates Pussy Riot and the representations of Mary.
In a second performance, Kloetzel re-enacts parts of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in dance duets between different characters.
For Moss, the project was about changing gears following a health crises that threatened her ability to dance.
“My work is often highly rhythmical, highly energetic and very fast,” Moss says. “So there is some space in it. There are some meditative pauses and moments to think.”
For her, it was about considering the human condition, about looking backward and forward through life and wondering what it all means.
The three dancers in Moss’s piece, Deanne Walsh, Natasha Korney and Margarita Kozhevnikova, represent aspects of the past, present and future.
“My research is focusing a lot lately on reflexivity and what it means to contemplate what yesterday was and what tomorrow will be,” Moss says. “When you’re in full flight, at your highest potential in terms of physicality, it’s youth. Your experience and your understanding of the human condition comes with age.”
Kloetzel and Walsh developed the TESTament performance when they both became fascinated by the Pussy Riot controversy, which was when three members of the Russian feminist punk rock band were imprisoned for hooliganism.
“[Pussy Riot] were interested in the strength of women and the strength coming through beauty and sexuality. They try to combine them,” Kloetzel says. “They’re not trying to deny beauty or sexuality. They are using those as parts of their strength.”
From the Pussy Riot’s church protest to the Hail Mary prayer, nursery rhymes and a talk show host and dancer, the performance plays with different representations of women and draws from the idea of women as power and the representations of Mary.
Split Screen runs Jan. 23–25 at the University Theatre. Tickets are $10 for students.
For tickets visit the Ucalgary website.