Just as Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo sought to free the beautiful forms he found trapped in blocks of marble, choreographers Diana Stanton and Jude Clark Warnisher aim to discover the hidden truths about dance.
“When you’re a choreographer, you’re looking at uncovering ideas that are already there,” Stanton explained.
They explore that concept further in Variable Velocity Performance Group’s hourlong dance showcase, “Inside Out,” featuring 14 performers. The San Luis Obispo company celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.
According to Stanton, “Inside Out” reflects Variable Velocity’s mission to present authentic works with emotional resonance.
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“An artist, regardless of their chosen media, is always inspired by something internal,” said Stanton, an assistant dance professor who directs Cal Poly’s Orchesis Dance Company.
She described the show’s eponymous opening piece, inspired by a series of improvisational exercises, as having “a very primitive style and feel.” It’s set to music by Tumbara, a world percussion group based in British Columbia.
Stanton’s modern dance piece “Torque,” originally choreographed for last year’s Orchesis show, brings a tense physicality to scientific concepts such as energy, momentum and the Fibonacci number sequence. (The title, a physics term, refers to a force that tends to cause twisting or rotation.)
Variable Velocity alumna Lauren Chertudi appears in the quirky solo “My Love Letter, Waits,” which details her imaginary love affair with gravel-voiced singer-songwriter Tom Waits. Meanwhile, “Immediately Distant,” a modern dance piece choreographed by Warnisher, features string music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Bela Bartok and Tool.
“I wanted to create a sort of 21st-century baroque dance,” Warnisher said, while exploring the spatial relationships that exist between people. “People are sometimes together, but they’re not present together. That seems to be a theme of our times.”
Performances are intercut with snippets of the video Warnisher crafted for the production, “Line In/Line Out.” The short film, which features figurative drawings inspired by her summer studies with New York City choreographer Bill Evans, will screen in its entirety before the show’s spiritual finale, “We Come, We Go.”
“That piece starts out almost intellectual in a way and becomes very animalistic,” Warnisher said of “We Come, We Go,” which Stanton initially choreographed in 2006. “It’s delving into all those things we carry around with us as human beings.”Warnisher, who shares artistic director duties with Stanton, said the idea of “having to go inside to really connect with yourself” resonates throughout “Inside Out.”
“Dance for us is such a part of our lives,” she explained. “It’s really something that supports us emotionally and psychologically, so there’s really a spiritual aspect of what we do.”