Transmission, an evening of new choreography by
Sarah Simon and AJ Brannum
The Lewis Center for the Arts' Program in Dance presents Transmission, an evening of original choreography created by Sarah Simon and AJ Brannum, seniors in the program, on March 29 and 30 at 8:00 p.m. in the Patricia and Ward Hagan '48 Dance Studio at 185 Nassau Street. The performances are free and open to the public.
Simon is a Comparative Literature major who, in addition to pursuing a certificate in Dance, is also earning a certificate in the Program in Creative Writing at the Lewis Center. As a result of her studies in dance, creative writing, and literature, Simon has explored the relationship of form to meaning and how this relationship can be expressed across those different disciplines. “It is often difficult to articulate what motivates my choice of form for various projects,” notes Simon, “however in the process of choreographing and writing, I have also been inspired by the different possibilities of each artistic medium.”
In her piece, Simon experiments with the limits of expressing ideas through movement and ways of creating narrative in dance. The interplay of dance and music is another point of interest for Simon, who seeks to discover ways to bring musicians into the dance and dancers inside the music. “In making this work, we have experimented with elevating the importance of form in communication, playing with how we interpret meaning from movement, sound, language and shape,” she explains. A number of other student dancers form her cast, in addition to student musicians who will be providing live music during the performance. Dancers are Emily Hogan ’15, Sarah Howells ’16, and Asawari Sodhi ’15. Musicians, who will perform live on saxophone, violin, guitar, ukulele, and piano, are Molly Bolten ’14, Divya Farias ’15, and Alejandro Van Zandt-Escobar ’14.
Brannum, an English major, is writing his senior thesis on Sir John Davies' famous poetic work entitled Orchestra, or a Poem of Dancing, in which the author contemplates the merits of dance and how dance relates to other activities.
For his dance thesis, however, Brannum is contemplating other aspects of the artistic discipline. While studying in the program, Brannum found that there is a somewhat strained relationship between contemporary choreographers and popular music. Speaking in regards to pop music, he explains that, “When it shows up in a dance it's usually playing a predictable role: it turns stark or deadpan action into something ironic or amusing.” As a choreographer, Brannum desires to reevaluate things that have in the last few decades been considered antithetical to affirming expression in dance, such as codified technique, theatricality—and his particular interest—popular music.
Brannum has chosen to focus on the music of the well-known rock/pop band Maroon 5 because he believes that their music perfectly embodies his current attitude toward “sincerity” and irony, enjoyment and detachment. Guided by an interested in what he calls “expressive hybridity,” his creative process has tackled such questions as how to dance to such music without forcing the former to serve the latter, and how he can enjoy dancing to the music he loves while avoiding overindulgence. “While I want to make something that's thoughtful and disciplined, I also want to leave plenty of room for sheer enjoyment,” Brannum says of his choreographed piece, which is titled, “Greatest Hits.” Dancers include Tess Bernhard ’14, Casey Brown ’14, and Sarah Rose ’14.
To learn more about the Program in Dance and the more than 100 events offered annually by the Lewis Center visit princeton.edu/arts.
Link to photo: https://lca.sharefile.com/d/sf704fab9b014c449
Photo Caption 1: Asawari Sodhi performs an excerpt from Sarah Simon’s new dance work, which previewed as a work-in-progress at the fall senior dance thesis collaborative performance, Fleet.
Photo Caption 2: AJ Brannum and fellow students perform an excerpt from his new dance work “Greatest Hits,” which previewed as a work-in-progress at the fall senior dance thesis collaborative performance, Fleet.
Photo Credit: Photos by Bentley Drezner