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Choreographers use dance to tell stories about ‘Things That Matter’ in Danceworks 2020

Female athletes, a coming out experience and a celebration of womanhood are among the themes explored in the choreographed works featured in Danceworks 2020. The School of Communication’s annual contemporary dance showcase features guest choreographers Miguel Angel Gamero Ortega and Nicole Clarke-Springer and Northwestern University dance faculty members Jeffery Hancock and Joel Valentín-Martinez.

“We’re thrilled to have such powerful stories conveyed through the movements of our incredible dancers,” said Valentín-Martinez, who also serves as the series’ artistic director. “I’m eager to share these works, which have been carefully curated by our talented and experienced choreographers, with our audience.”

The Wirtz Center will present Danceworks 2020 “Things That Matter,” March 4 to 8 at the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, in Evanston.

Inspired by the women in his family circle and beyond, guest choreographer Gamero Ortega uses the “sports field-arena” as a metaphor to reflect on the physical and psychological challenges women face on a daily basis. Throughout this piece, he questions “how does one overcome hard-hitting rock-bottom moments in life?”

Clark-Springer, artistic director of Chicago’s Deeply Rooted, creates a new piece inspired by a Coleb John poem. “Forged in Fire” incorporates words from the poem of the same title, “molded, hammered, shaped, bent and broken and forged in fire,” to  create a composition that celebrates the resilience of women.

 Hancock’s work questions how our experience of time, and the perception of it as lacking or in abundance affects our relationships and our capacity for empathy. Using the metaphor of a spinning plate, Hancock and the dancers illuminate urgency, tenderness and humanity in a dynamic play with space and time.

Valentin-Martinez’s contribution delivers a highly personal account inspired by the New Wave pop music scene of the 80s. Using the music of Culture Club (Boy George), Annie Lennox and Grace Jones as his soundtrack, Valentín-Martinez creates a fun and colorful “coming of age/coming out” narrative dance piece, looking at pop music as a way of finding refuge during homophobic trying times.

“We’ve assembled artistry that moves physically and emotionally. I can’t wait for audiences to experience it,” -- Valentín-Martinez said.

Tickets and more information are available on the Wirtz Center website.

The Wirtz Center is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.