Dance : The Othello Project: Using art to understand art
Within all art forms, professionals have a way, unique to their medium, of talking to each other, of understanding each other's work. Sometimes a work may not translate to an audience for whom the artistic experience is new and unfamiliar. Audiotapes and lengthy program notes can't be counted on to introduce creative concepts, nuances and intentions. This weekend, The Yard is presenting an iconic modern dance piece using music and theater as a rousing conduit to understanding.
Wendy Taucher, The Yard's artistic director, explains, "A founding goal of The Yard is to help people understand choreography."
The Othello Project: Theatre, Opera, and Dance does precisely that. The Yard and The Limón Dance Company are presenting the Island premiere of The Othello Project, which focuses on José Limón's famous modern dance piece, "The Moor's Pavane" ("Variations on Theme of Othello"). The project was conceived by The Yard's artistic director, Wendy Taucher and Limón Dance Company's artistic director, Carla Maxwell. Ms. Taucher describes it as "a guided exploration of Limón's masterwork."
The audience will be treated to an insight to Limón modern dance master work with a little help from friends: Shakespeare and Verdi. The piece, performed in its entirety by the Limón Dance Company, will be preceded by excerpts from Verdi's opera "Otello," featuring Broadway musical performer, baritone Mark Womack, and in Shakespeare's "Othello," acclaimed Broadway actor André DeShields.
"The Moor's Pavane" is a 20-minute dance quartet set to music by Henry Purcell. It depicts the primary plot between the central characters of Shakespeare's tragedy and is a stunning ebb and flow of bodies in space. Compelling selections from "Otello," in operatic grandeur, evoke the heightened tragedy of the tale. The chosen scenes from Shakespeare stir up the base and powerful themes of love, jealousy and isolation. Verdi and Shakespeare act as highlighters, and provide frames of reference through which the nuance of Limón's choreography is illuminated.
Mr. DeShields, who embodies the role of Shakespeare's "Othello" with vigor, explains, "The beauty of dance is that like music, it is not very different from language. It is a heightened form of language."
Shakespeare and Verdi become ways of talking about "The Moor's Pavane", but "talking" in the tradition of theatre: Show; don't tell. The Yard presents The Othello Project as a thought-provoking program for all audiences of all levels of dance orientation.
The Othello Project: Theatre, Opera, and Dance, Friday, August 29 through Sunday, August 31, 8 pm. Free family matinee Saturday, August 30, 4 pm. The Yard, Chilmark. Tickets: Friday, $100 premium, $50 general, $25 seniors and under 30. Saturday and Sunday, $50 premium, $25 general; $15 seniors and under 30. For more information, call 508-645-9662.
Adriana Stimola divides her time between West Tisbury and New York City where she performs as a singer and actress.