Risa Jaroslow

Basically Dance

Nov 16, 2005 at 2:06 pm
Risa Jaroslow's dancers are answering the question: What makes you feel whole?

Modern dance pioneer Martha Graham proclaimed, "Movement never lies." New York-based choreographer/dancer RISA JAROSLOW finds truth in this claim. Community involvement isn't just something she and her company do for publicity or to "give back" — it's become a fundamental element within her work. With her contemporary evening-length piece, Whole Sky (presented this weekend at the Jarson-Kaplan Theater by Contemporary Dance Theater), Jaroslow taps into the inherent power and truth of expressive movement. Seeds of inspiration followed her father's death and the events of 9/11. She was thinking about loss and how people counter it. She wanted to explore how people find wholeness when they feel fragmented and pulled apart, so she began asking herself, her dancers and people in many communities a simple question: What makes you feel whole? A large-scale series of workshops, The Becoming Whole Project, culminated in her company's highly personal and collaborative multimedia work. Jaroslow and her dancers taught workshops in diverse communities — of young and old, dancers and non-dancers — to expand everyone's ideas of dance. Although her work has always been rooted in human relationships, she wanted to broaden her company's range and help people connect through movement. "No matter how brilliant a person may be," she says,"you are limited by the boundaries of your particular imagination, your physicality ... as you open it up and bring more people into the process of developing the work, the more exciting it becomes." How does she handle possible skepticism in the non-dance community workshops? When she feels nervous, she reminds herself of the power of movement. She notes, "People may think they can't do it. The task is to create an environment that feels safe, in which people feel they can try things ... if you give people a handle, a way in, they're there." Tickets: 513-621-2787. ... Indianapolis' 32-year-old company BALLET INTERNATIONALE folded suddenly and unexpectedly on Nov.9, sending shockwaves through the larger dance community. Cincinnati Ballet Artistic Director Victoria Morgan reports that the Indianapolis company approached her company at the 11th hour seeking a possible merger — primarily in the way of sponsorship.

CONTACT JULIE MULLINS: jmullins(at)citybeat.com