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Thanks to gloATL’s artist leader Lauri Stallings, Atlantans are finally getting to see more dance. In the past, dance was an art form that was removed from most tiers of society. Unlike music, which a person can experience anywhere, dance performances were typically produced in a theatre, on a proscenium stage, attended by the upper echelons of society, and excluded most people. The content of performances, mainly reflective of ballet companies, included an obsession with the supernatural, the unattainable, the otherworldly. Audience and performer were separated by the stage. Thankfully, things are shifting in the world of dance, specifically here in Atlanta.

Sidra Bell dancers at the beginning of Nudity Photo credit: Shawn Robert Cuni

As curator of the performance series, Tanz Farm: A Performance Anthology, resident choreographer Lauri Stallings hopes to expose Atlantans to the latest trends and tendencies in the international/national contemporary performance world. The Tanz Farm season consists of a four part performance series, the second of which took place December 14-16th in the Goodson Yard Performance Hall at the Goat Farm Arts Center in West Midtown, Atlanta. I had the pleasure of attending the Saturday evening performance.

Upon first entering the performance space, onlookers were given a moment to digest, No one to witness and adjust study #3: for forgetting, an installation by artist zoe | juniper. The audience surrounded the rectangular area on which the artists stood, lay, and sat like statues, with parts or all of their bodies submersed in sand. After a few minutes, the dancers began to stir slowly, and then shift more quickly into a cohesive phrase of movement under immobile, plastered suspensions hanging from the ceiling. The juxtaposition between the idle plastered suspensions and the pulsing dancers created an altered experience of time, and for a moment I found myself caught in a world in which motion is the pendulum keeping track of the passage of time.

Jimmy Joyner, alertly poised, in new work by Zoe | Juniper

Crevasse, the second piece in the program, explored the idea of two forces of equal strength acting upon one another. Dancers rebounded and released as they danced phrases of movement made by choreographer George Staib. The transference in the sound often reflected a kind of transference in the movement itself. Dancers often displaced each other in the performance space or allowed an arm to displace a leg as they moved on and off the elevated performance area. The piece ended in a blackout, and as the lights came on once again, five dancers in black congregated in a corner of the performance space.

Sidra Bell’s new work, Nudity, explored ideas of order and regulation in rigid social structures as well as in the art of classical ballet, and how these pressures can be manifested in the body. Each of the five dancers, all classically trained and powerful movers, moved in and out of gestures, classical ballet positions, and pedestrian postures to a driving beat. Bell’s choreography reflected physical research regarding the architecture of the body, as well as certain female and male archetypes. Bell was able to incorporate the audience into the piece intellectually, with regards to the concepts she addressed, as well as physically, with the sheer proximity of her dancers to the edges of the performance space.

To complete the performance, Klimchak, a solo musician, offered a composition of sounds as the audience exited the performance space. Overall, the performance possessed an organic flow from one piece to the next. The ideas presented worked in the space and the artists performing were fully present. The fact that performances such as Tanz Farm exist in Atlanta is encouraging to the Atlanta contemporary art scene as well as to the national/international art scene in general. I am proud to live in this city and to be surrounded by such talented artists.

Written by Christen Sewell Weimer

Christen Sewell Weimer

An Atlanta native, Christen Sewell Weimer embodied a passion for movement at a young age. Before fully actualizing her love of dance, Christen competed both nationally and internationally as a rhythmic gymnast. Transitioning to the art of dance came somewhat organically for her when she enrolled in the school at Atlanta Ballet in 2000. Christen’s pursuit of movement propelled her first to Indiana University’s Ballet program and then to New York, where she studied, choreographed and performed at Barnard College, Columbia University. Christen graduated magna cum laude from Barnard in 2006 with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Dance. Christen has performed professionally with Brooks and Company Dance, as well as with Bodiography Contemporary Ballet. She also occasionally dabbles in commercial work, and in 2001 Christen was featured as a rhythmic gymnast in Outkast’s music video, “Trans DF Express.” Christen furthered her studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, from where she received an MFA in Dance Performance in 2011. Christen was certified through the Mind Body Dancer® 200 Yoga Teacher Training with TaraMarie Perri. Through this comprehensive yoga teacher training, she was certified at the 200-hour level to teach alignment-based, breath-focused, mindful Vinyasa. (www.mindbodydancer.com). Currently, Christen serves on faculty in the Drama and Dance department at Spelman College, creates and teaches movement to avid dancers and periodically reviews the Atlanta dance scene for DIY Dancer. Christen would like to thank her family, friends, mentors and students, who continually inspire her.