Body Language

Michelle Rattinger/Hatchet photographer
Michelle Rattinger/Assistant photo editor

This post was written by Hatchet Reporter Paloma Aelyon.

When Anna Sperber journeyed from Brooklyn to D.C. in September to select dancers to perform her choreography in this semester’s DanceWorks, she was looking for something special.

“Primarily, I look for presence, being able to see a sense of who they are, a clarity, a naturalness, that they are comfortable with themselves, and a groundedness,” she said of what would catch her eye during auditions.
Those characteristics will all be featured this weekend as the guest artist’s original piece is performed in the student dance showcase, held each semester in the Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre.

Sperber, who is a professional choreographer and dancer in New York City, wanted to create a piece that invoked an emotional reaction from the audience and the six students who are set to perform it.

“I want to give the viewer a strong sensory experience, to bring attention to how they are feeling and to the movement of their own body,” she said. “[My work] attracts people who come with an open mind, without preconceived expectations of what dance is.”

Working in her own studio in Bushwick, NY, Sperber used her students as choreographic fodder. Incorporating a soundtrack composed by her husband, a musician, she developed a piece that told a story of her own human situation. What she created was both a study of the body and a unique marriage of movement and sound.

“My inspiration is about personal experience,” she said. “I don’t have an agenda [for the audience], it’s up to them to have their own experience.”

After selecting four women and two men on campus for her cast, Sperber had only three weekends to rehearse with them. Though the process was much shorter than the months she spends with her dancers in New York, Sperber reflected fondly on her time with the young performers.

“It was a fun experience to get to know people quickly,” she said.

When DanceWorks opens on Thursday night, Sperber’s piece will close what is usually a successful showcase for the department. With a mixture of student, professor and guest artists choreography, the program consistently presents creative dance to the GW community.

DanceWorks will be performed on Thursday Nov. 20, Friday Nov. 21 and Saturday Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Marvin Center box office for $10 for students and $15 for general admission.

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