Research

Gretchen Alterowitz

A member of AGA Collaborative with Alison Bory, Davidson College Dance Department, and Amanda Hamp, University of New Mexico, Theatre and Dance Department

AGA Collaborative is a trio of artist-scholars who work across geographical distance, rigorously exploring the possibilities of co-creating. Our choreographic collaboration emphasizes the processes of dancemaking and the possibilities of de-centering creative authorship. We approach choreography as practice-based research — investigations into the experience of being, what the language of the body can communicate, and how bodies on stage can speak to the world. 

Each of our projects respond to thematic concerns or areas of interest. Current research questions we are considering include:

  • How do ideas of accomplishment and productivity structure our lives?
  • What does it mean to win?
  • How do cooperation and competition co-exist?
  • How do we understand ourselves within hierarchical structures?

Recent projects have included a series of performances of our 2016 work win. place. show. at Gibney Dance (New York, NY), Dance and Somatic Practices conference (Coventry, UK), and World Dance Alliance conference (St. John’s, Newfoundland), and a week-long residency in the Department of Dance at UNC Charlotte. During the residency, we collaborated with dance majors to create a new work, Anthem for a Porcelain Generation, which the students performed on the spring dance concert.

Through each of our projects, we are committed to considering:

  • How do intimacy and connection respond to and work with technological mediation?
  • How are collaboration and shared practices useful and meaningful in today's world?

AGA CollaborativeIn our choreography, we are dedicated to investigating different ways of thinking about and viewing dancing bodies on stage. Prioritizing intimacy and connection over experiences of diversion or spectacle, we aim to create compositions that allow for audience reflection and reflexivity. We approach the stage as a multidimensional space and a site for community building — amongst ourselves and with everyone in the room. 

To learn more about our work and view videos and images, please visit our website: www.agacollaborative.org.

 

 

E.E. Balcos  E.E. Balcos research photo

Balcos actively pursues investigations in somatic movement education as it applies to all areas of movement exploration, expression, and holistic living. Somatic movement education focuses on the active awareness of human life processes, the intelligence of the body, and its ability to learn, and re-pattern compensations and mis-alignments. This promotes efficient moving both in dance and with day-to-day functional movement and holisitic embodied living and being. With dance, exploration will begin with awareness of breath, proprioception and kinesthesia.  Along with this research, Balcos is active in exploring continued investigations in choreography and dance performance. His collaborations with composers and musicians create interdisciplinary performances including new choreography, improvisation, and contact improvisation. 

 

Karen Hubbard

Karen Hubbard Research photo

Hubbard’s scholarly investigation, Four Uncle Toms and The Small House:  Searching for Uncle Tom, attempts to answer the questions:  How did a dance interpretation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1862) appear in The King and I? the 1951 Broadway musical set in Siam during 1862.   This research brings to light important, yet often missed and sometimes even ignored, connections between major artists in dance, literature, music, art and theatre. 

Hubbard has evolved a unique approach to teaching jazz through her research in US vernacular dance from the first half of the 20th century, also known as authentic jazz dance.  This curriculum deals with the physical, cultural, historical and aesthetic aspects of jazz dance.

 

Kim Jones

During 2016-17, Associate Professor Kim Jones and the UNC Charlotte Department of Dance investigated the work of celebrated choreographer Paul Taylor. 

Tracer photoRenowned modern dance choreographer Paul Taylor gave Jones the unique opportunity to reconstruct a seminal early work not performed or seen in more than 50 years. Tracer, choreographed by Taylor in 1962 with set and costumes by the artist Robert Rauschenberg, does not benefit from the existence of video or audio rehearsal or performance records. Jones completed her scholarly reconstruction in September 2016 during a three-week residency at UNC Charlotte with the Taylor 2 Dance Company. During the residency, Jones, in close consultation with former Taylor dancers Liz Walton, Tom Patrick and Ruth Andrien (Taylor 2 Rehearsal Director), set Tracer on the Taylor 2 dancers, working also with UNC Charlotte dance students, who learned the work for performance demonstrations. The Taylor 2 Dance Company premiered the reconstructed Tracer, with a new Rauschenberg inspired sculpture by artist Jeff Crawford, in a performance at UNC Charlotte on September 30, 2016.

UNC Charlotte Dance received a 2016 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support this work. The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields. UNC Charlotte was one of 12 grant recipients in North Carolina and the state's only grant recipient in the "dance" category.

“The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Supporting projects like the one from UNC Charlotte Department of Dance offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

The New York Times Review of Kim Jones reconstruction work.        

 

Tamara Williams

Ring Shout photo  Tamara Williams’ research center around the systematic investigation and analysis of spiritual dances of the African Diaspora. Her current work focuses on the history, movements/gestures/dances, songs, rhythms, context, environment and development of the African-based Ring Shout traditions created by the enslaved people in the Carolinas and Georgia. In an effort to preserve the original movement and gestures of the tradition, Williams is reconstructing the earliest recorded dances of the Ring Shout. She is creating a formulated dance technique that highlights authentic movements of Ring Shout stemming from the Yoruba, Angola and Akan cultures of West Africa. The movements brought to the United States by these West African cultures were infused together by the enslaved African Americans; a new culture of people. Through this process, Williams analyzes the similarities in the West African ancestral dances and compare them to the movements performed in the Ring Shout by African Americans of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 2017, Williams developed a course entitled, Reconstructing Ring Shout Traditions in which UNCC dance majors are able to learn Ring Shout movement vocabulary and its influence in American social and popular dances. Students also travel to Charleston, SC to study Ring Shout and Gullah culture and history.