The Bipeds Dance Company will be launching its 2018 season Saturday at Shadowbox Studio in Durham. Dancers, musicians, filmmakers and more will be joining The Bipeds, a project-based, modern dance company, to kick-start their season.
The company is led by choreographer and dancer Stacy Wolfson and banjo player and songwriter Curtis Eller. The two work together to create shows that combine music, lyrics, dance and movement into one cohesive production.
Eller said that he first started collaborating with Wolfson when she integrated his band, Curtis Eller's American Circus, into the movement of her own show. He said that the success of that show prompted them to pursue a partnership and start writing from scratch.
“It’s hard to describe, but easy to understand,” Eller said. “As a performer, I’m really interested in the potential of movement as a very expressive tool, and Stacy, as a choreographer, has always gravitated towards a collaborative approach. We wanted it to be fun for people to come and see, so we allow the performers to put their own personality into the choreography and the music and the singing.”
The company’s season will not just include dance performances, but will rather be a multimedia project. In addition to working towards their big performance held in June, the Bipeds are also recording an album and working with filmmakers to create visual representations of each of their songs. Two of these films will be premiered at this weekend’s launch party.
“A lot of theater and dance shows have this long rehearsal period, and then you have four shows, and then it sort of disappears forever into the fog of memory,” Eller said. “As a rock and roll musician, I wanted to leave a trail of artifacts behind.”
Jim Haverkamp and Alex Maness of Shadowbox Studio are the two filmmakers working on this project with the Bipeds. Haverkamp said that the experience has been more collaborative than any of his past productions because he has worked hand-in-hand with Wolfson and Eller, rather than just shooting a music video.
“I think we were just trying to see how far we could push the image to be as evocative as movement is,” Haverkamp said. “Just filming somebody moving doesn’t give you the same experience you can get if you’re watching something live. We wanted to see if we could visually make the dance parts as interesting and as exciting and unexpected as we could.”
The films will continue to be released, building up to the company’s main production of the season — its performance titled “54 Strange Words,” which will be held at The Fruit in June.
Wolfson said that all of the work the company is doing is leading up to this final show, which is based on nightmare imagery.
“We talk about reoccurring dreams and nightmares that we’ve had, and we just compiled everybody’s imagery into the movement, into the songs and into the lyrics to reflect a lot of the imagery that we’ve come up with as a movement,” Wolfson said. “Maybe more importantly, it’s trying to describe your nightmare to someone else, and you can’t quite get that point across because the language is weird since you can’t remember always all of the details of your nightmares.”
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