The seventh and latest production by Mount Rainier choreographers Laura Schandelmeier and Stephen Clapp invites you into a world of light, shadow and falling snow.
Called “We Are Here,” the piece by the co-artistic directors of Dance Box Theater presents four dancers caught in a snow globe.
“Imagine what would happen if our world, the world we live in, was encased in [one],” says Schandelmeier, about the production starting Thursday for four nights at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainer.
“It’s about looking at things from different ways and different angles,” says Schandelmeier, who developed the dance with her husband Clapp.
Clapp also wrote the score using a synthesizer and an acoustic melodica, a small harmonica-like instrument with a keyboard to control the air holes.
Both are dancing in the production along with Wakili McNeill, who danced with Capp and Schandelmeier in the premier of the 55-minute piece in March at the Dance Place in Washington, D.C.
Also on stage will be Brooke Kidd, founder and director of Joe’s Movement Emporium.
“It’s the first time I’ve had a chance to dance for a couple of years,” says Kidd, who also teaches students, designs programs and directs productions at the center.
“What I love about Dance Box Theater is that they’re really blending dance and theater,” she says.
“The set is gorgeous,” says Kidd about the lighting patterns designed by Ben Levine that play on stage, where the dancers also make use of a box, a podium and a veil-like curtain of tulle.
The flowing black, slightly iridescent costumes are by textile artist Renate Maile-Moskowitz.
“It’s one of the more visually beautiful pieces that we’ve done,” says Schandelmeier.
“It’s [also] an abstract piece,” she says. “There’s no story to get, and we don’t want to tell people how to watch it.”
Schandelmeier, originally from D.C., and Clapp, a New England native, have been working in Mount Rainier since 2005.
They live in a loft within walking distance of Joe’s Movement Emporium which is in the Gateway arts district.
The couple developed “Affections,” a multi-media dance/theater production for The Kennedy Center, in 2010.
In 2009, they developed “The Loving Project: E-Race,” which focused on interracial marriages and nontraditional partnerships.
With a more specific theme than “We Are Here,” the piece referenced the 1967 case of Loving vs. Virginia, which overturned the law against interracial marriage in that state, and also on the marriage of Russian inventor Leon Theremin and Lavinia Williams, a dancer with the American Negro Ballet.
“Stephen and I try to make each piece different,” Schandelmeier says. “They take a year or more to develop with our own movement vocabulary.”
One of the stated goals of Dance Box Theater is to explore issues of social justice and the human condition.
“It’s part of all our work,” she says.