It’s been 10 years since Carley Conder launched the Breaking Ground dance festival that’s become an important staple of the Phoenix-area dance scene. Breaking Ground 2017 happens Friday and Saturday, January 27 and 28, at Tempe Center for the Arts. It features two different main-stage programs, each including work choreographed by Conder, as well as works by choreographers who hail from several additional states, including California and New York.
Conder wanted to focus on Arizona artists for Breaking Ground 2017, so about half the artists represented this year are based in Arizona. This year's festival includes three works commissioned for Breaking Ground, created by Arizona choreographers Mary Fitzgerald, Jessica Rajko, and OneTON Collective.
During intermission, audiences will see more works created by Arizona choreographers and dancers, in the form of Tiny Dances performed on 4-by-4 foot stages in the venue’s lobby and outdoor patio. It’s a change from previous years, when Tiny Dances happened before each night’s main program.
And there’s another shift this year, with the addition of a pre-show performance. Britta Joy Peterson, a Washington D.C. dancer with Arizona roots, is directing a work called Tired hearts kick darkness and bleed light., which features movement she created with Arizona-based artist Juan “Coel” Rodriguez. It’s being performed each night in the TCA’s outdoor breezeway.
Breaking Ground 2017 also includes the première of Carley Conder’s new piece titled Howard Hughes is ill. Howard Hughes is dead. Howard Hughes is in Las Vegas., which is part of each evening’s lineup. Inspired by Joan Didion’s 1967 essay exploring Hughes’ mythical persona, the piece incorporates musical influences from the 1960s as it considers the pitfalls of human connection.
The festival’s one dance film, a 2013 piece titled Outside In, is being shown during Friday night’s main-stage program. Directed by Tove Skeidsvoll and Petrus Sjövik, and filmed in an artificial birch forest in Sweden, it’s a film about taking something back.
For those eager to know what else is happening each night, here’s the rundown:
Friday night includes the following:
Charlotte Boye-Christensen (Salt Lake City)
Based in Copenhagen and Utah, Charlotte Boye-Christensen will explore personal boundaries created for privacy and decisions to breach them.
Mary Fitzgerald (Phoenix)
Created in collaboration with dancers who perform it, this piece is a meditation on freedom in several contexts, including politics and our bodies.
Between Here and There
Li Chiao Ping (Oregon, Wisconsin)
Calling on her own immigrant experience, and poetry left by immigrants on the walls of Angel Island, Ping addresses issues of exclusion and finding home.
Joe Monteleone (New York City)
Through the medium of dance theater, Monteleone explores contrasts between man and machine within the context of social and economic systems.
OneTON Collective (Phoenix)
Dance collective artists Jasmine Nunn, Lai Yi Ohlsen, and Kayla Tomooka investigate Asian-Pacific American identity for those isolated from the Asian community.
Friday night’s Tiny Dance lineup includes works created by Diane McNeal Hunt, Charlotte Adams, Shelly Hawkins, Ashley Baker, Nicole L. Olson and Travis Richardson, and Lai Yi Ohlsen.
Saturday night includes the following:
Me, My Qualified Self and I – Parts I, II and III
Jessica Rajko (Phoenix)
Dancers present three excerpts of a larger work that incorporates dance with fiber arts to explore what it means to live digital lives.
Boroka Krisztina Nagy (Huntington Beach, California)
This work, comprising a new iteration on an earlier installation piece, explores identity and individuality within various gender roles.
From Dirt to Soil
Jenny Gerena and Jeremiah Jenkins (Phoenix)
Through an abstract narrative, this duet considers the nature of growth, support, and connection.
Aaron McGloin (New York City)
McGloin presents a playful, athletic take on intimacy, which explores shifts between perishing and resurrection.
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I met the soul walking along the path
James Morrow (Salem, Massachusetts)
Using movement conveying violence and vulnerability, Morrow considers various ways patriarchal culture prevents men from knowing themselves.
Saturday night's Tiny Dance offerings include pieces choreographed by Liz Ann Hewett, Amber Robins, Laina Reese Carney, Anthony James Kelly (Akeliz) and Juan "Coel" Rodriguez, and Nicole L. Olson and Travis Richardson.
CONDER/dance presents Breaking Ground 2017 at 7:30 p.m. (with 7 p.m. pre-show) on Friday, January 27, and Saturday, January 28 at Tempe Center for the Arts. Tickets start at $25 (or $18 for students and seniors), and are available online or at the TCA Box Office before each performance.