A MAKESHIFT AUDIENCE trickles into the Decatur-based CORE dance studio to watch a loose rehearsal of the company’s summer intensive. Longtime fans confidently pull up chairs. A girl who’d been brunching around the corner spotted the event on Facebook and sauntered in for a bit of spontaneous afternoon culture.
The piece, a world premiere titled Life Interrupted: Honor the Innocent, won’t be seen in Atlanta until fall 2016, but it’s in the beginning stages and the sort of work that CORE Performance Company, CORE’s professional contemporary dance ensemble, welcomes audiences to look in on.
They do this sort of thing regularly. The company, celebrating its 30th season in metro Atlanta (and its 35th in Houston, where it is dual-based), holds a semi-monthly Lunchtime in the Studio series that invites anyone well-behaved to watch the dancers at work and enjoy a free lunch.
30 years in Atlanta
It’s interesting for a contemporary dance company to be turning 30. As Sue Schroeder, CORE founder and artistic director, puts it: “How do you stay new and fresh and contemporary when you’re 35 years old?”
One way is to take risks. Although after three decades CORE is a local institution, many Atlantans don’t realize it’s a professional company. Dance is a full-time job for its five-person staff and six dancers. They’re constantly creating and debuting innovative work and performing internationally.
Which brings us back to Life Interrupted, commissioned by the University of Central Arkansas. It’s designed as a richly layered evening-length performance of contemporary dance, art and music, and has been created to honor and remember the U.S. citizens of Japanese descent who were interned on American soil during World War II.
The piece, which will be retitled Gaman for its Atlanta premiere, has been a history lesson for its creators. “None of us lived there,” says Schroeder. “How do you make a historical event inform a contemporary work of art?”
First they gathered a team from many artistic backgrounds: dancers, a dramaturg, a composer, an architect, a visual artist — what Schroeder likes to call a “dance laboratory.”
Then they did research and began to put their ideas into motion, the dancers building moments and scenes in solos, duets and groups, with lights and music and art in play around them. The intensive sessions mixed work and play, creating a palette of understanding that assists Schroeder in creating the final work. The dancers aren’t taught moves, rather, they inspire them, invent them and improve on them. The key to all things CORE is creative collaboration.
“Each of these performers is a dance artist,” says Schroeder of her company members. “Each of these people is an art-maker. So what they bring to the work is very different than a repertory company where dancers are hired for skill and technique and not for creative contribution.”
This anniversary season also brings projects with the High Museum of Art, including a series of site-specific dance works inspired by two of the High’s exhibits – Habsburg Splendor: Masterpieces From Vienna’s Imperial Collection and Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion.
CORE dancers will showcase new works both inside the museum and on the grounds, and guest choreographers will perform a commissioned work, Museum as Space, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the High’s building addition.
There’s more to CORE
But that’s not all. Besides it professional dance company, CORE offers classes, workshops, summer camps, teacher training and Dynamic X-Change, a program that provides safe, creative outlets for people in need of building self-awareness, communication skills, healthy body awareness and movement appreciation.
Schroeder believes history has served CORE well and that its mission as an artist-focused organization is stronger than ever. But she doesn’t want to stop and reflect on the past for long. CORE is all about what’s new and what’s next.
“It’s is a group committed to taking risks,” says Schroeder. “That’s very exciting to me.”
- Oct. 23: Habsburg Splendor: Masterpieces From Vienna’s Imperial Collection. 7-10 p.m. Performances on the half-hour. High Museum.
- March 4-5, 2016: Edge in Unexpected Spaces, 6:30 p.m. In partnership with the Rialto Center for the Arts and Off the Edge Contemporary Dance Festival.
- May 6 &13, 2016: Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion. 7 and 8:30 p.m. High Museum.
Come for lunch
Lunchtime in the Studio takes place in the CORE studio, 133 Sycamore St., on the Decatur Square.
- Nov. 19: Dance-Making as a Catalyst for Social Change
- Feb. 25: Dance the Unexpected
- April 14: CORE in the Community