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Elledanceworks Celebrates 15 Years of Dance

by Danielle Georgiou 13 Jun 2012 11:00 AM

Guest blogger Danielle Georgiou talks to Elledanceworks co-directors Ronelle Eddings and Michele Hanlon about the secrets of keeping the company vibrant after 15 years.



Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is the artistic director and choreographer of DGDG: Danielle Georgiou Dance Group. She also serves as the Assistant Director of the UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble. And she’s a member of Muscle Nation.

Elledanceworks Dance Company is celebrating the end of its 15th season—that’s right, 15 years of dance—this weekend at the Bath House Cultural Center.

Elledanceworks 15 will feature work from guest choreographers Birgitt Bodingbauer and Simone Grindel (of Berlin’s A Nightmare Before Valentine). “A Shot in the Dark” is a powerful duet that won first place in the 5th International Internet Dance Festival and was set on Elle dancers in the fall of 2011 while Bodingbauer and Grindel were completing a residency at UT Dallas and CentralTrak (yours truly had the opportunity to train and dance for them, and the experience is one to watch come to fruition on stage).

Other works on the program include “Will You Know Me” by co-director Ronelle Eddings and “In My Way” by co-director Michele Hanlon. Company members Tiffanee Arnold, Delanie Bitler and Melissa Bjork also choreographed, and works created for the Dallas Museum of Art’s recent exhibitYouth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties” will be performed. The Amy Seltzer Quartet, featuring Elledanceworks’ resident composer Amy Seltzer, will provided live and recorded music for the performance every evening.

I spoke briefly with both directors as one choreographer to another, and as one artistic director to another, to find out how Eddings and Hanlon have managed to keep Elledanceworks running for 15 years, and where their continued inspiration comes from.

Danielle Georgiou: 15 years! That’s quite the anniversary to be celebrating. DGDG is just in the middle of our second season, and I’m still pinching myself to make sure it’s all real. But in your 15 years, you’ve kept an audience of dedicated followers and continuously create new work. Also, the company has maintained its membership. What’s your secret?

Ronelle Eddings: The company has grown and changed over the past 15 years in ways that we’ve never expected. We’ve seen marriage and divorce, new life and loss, and pretty much experienced life in all aspects.  Elledanceworks has never been a pick-up company. We’ve always been a family. As you watch the company dance, you can see it – that strong connection. That is a miracle on so many levels, and why the company still exists today. It’s always been more than a company.

Michele Hanlon: A great thing about having a company with a stable membership is getting to know over time dancers’ strengths and hidden talents. We are fortunate to have talented choreographers within our company, and it’s rewarding to be able to present works by these members of our community.

It’s also about community. It’s a strong part of who we are and what we do. We value the relationships that we have built with each other and with our audience over the past 15 years. I see this reflected in our work, as so many of our dances delve into and seek to make sense of basic human experiences.

D.G.: And this idea is definitely reflected in your work. I’ve seen it in past performances, on a variety of levels, from large ensemble pieces to themes that deal with coming home, family and love.

M.H.: Yes. And it comes back this season. My work, “In My Way,” uses a blending of text, audience interaction and movement to explore ways in which we deal with obstacles – the kind that we cannot control and those that are self-imposed.

RE: And my work, “Will You Know Me,” explores finding someone you love after they’ve passed on to the afterlife before you. I believe that we will see our loved ones in heaven again — it’s part of my faith. But if they are young when they leave this world, as in a baby, there is a painful hole in your heart that never gets filled. And you wonder how they will see you and you them—what version is up there waiting for you? Young? Grown? And will they know you after all, regardless of how much time has passed?

D.G.: You will also be performing work that was created for a site-specific installation at the Dallas Museum of Art during “Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties.” Can you talk a little bit about those pieces, as they deviate from your usual work. They were created for an outside organization and for work originally chosen by you for inspiration.

R.E.: The excerpts we will be performing were inspired by various works of art in the exhibit. They are all very different from each other, as different as the works of art are. Yet, they all feel tied together by the human thread shared by people across time. We understand and experience the same things just within a different context — flirtation, fear, vulnerability and love. The artwork inspired the pieces, and the human connection was also an inspiration to each dance work.

D.G.: So even though you didn’t chose the artwork as an original source of inspiration, you were still able to find your voice in them. I think that’s great, and something all choreographers can learn from.

Elledanceworks will perform at the Bath House Cultural Center Thursday to Saturday. All shows are at 8 p.m. Call 214.366.0630 for tickets and more information.