Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre Reimagines Contemporary Dance for the Virtual Stage

It’s no secret that the way Austin creates art has changed drastically in the last six months. So naturally, at the Long Center, we’ve been fascinated by the ways creativity is booming and blooming (plus, how we can help). Our next Long Center Create Virtual Event with Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre is a perfect example of this, and it’s streaming for free, live on LC’s Facebook September 12th at 8pm! Don’t be shy — AADT’s dancers will be live on chat talking about the experience, as well as composer Graham Reynolds.

REIMAGINE, the contemporary dance work from the dance company of choreographer Andrea Ariel (AADT), was not only supposed to premiere in our Rollins Studio Theatre live last May, but was also a celebration of AADT’s 30th Anniversary. With rehearsals being suspended and performances postponed, Andrea realized she would have to reimagine REIMAGINE for the virtual stage, instead.

So how do you create a virtual contemporary dance piece?

With creativity and ingenuity, of course! It also helps if you have great music to dance to. REIMAGINE was to be an evening of dance and live music that reinvented and weaved AADT’s past repertoire with new choreography all set to scores by composer and bandleader Graham Reynolds. As a long-time collaborator of Andrea Ariel, reuniting for AADT’s 30th Anniversary was a no-brainer.

“Over all these years we were both developing our work, and there are many threads of Graham’s compositions that are part of my work during that time,” Andrea says. “I thought it would be interesting to reimagine older works and create new ones to a selection of scores that resonated with these connections.”

Though Graham won’t be performing live with Alexis Buffum on violin and Nora Karakousoglou on cello as originally planned, you’ll still get that punchy, quirky Reynolds experience paired with Andrea’s signature choreo.

Over three months during shelter-in-place, the company rehearsed virtually to re-create selected pieces from REIMAGINE in the dancers’ private homes and environments where they then filmed the work. While some of the dances aligned well for a virtual re-creation, others not so much.

REIMAGINE: 30 YEARS | REIMAGINED brings four re-creations together with a look at a few past repertoire pieces through archival excerpts and the company’s pre-COVID rehearsal footage (because who can resist some behind-the-scenes content?). The 45-minute premiere, edited by Colin Lowry, aims to also virtually re-create that live show experience, moving seamlessly from one piece to the next.

What does virtual contemporary dance look like?

This piece explores the isolation we’ve all been feeling lately. Live, this section would have limited dancers to an individual 8ft. x 8ft. space, growing and overlapping as the pieces progressed. The uncanny relevance of this piece in our current situation lent it well to re-creating the first section in a room in the dancers’ homes.

This one moves from isolation to patterns the comings and goings of daily life, exploring random crossings that lead to interactions and connections with each other. On the shelter-in-place stage, the choreography had dancers create their own “vectors” — paths that are connected with each other through clever editing. “Crossings,” “Home,”and a fourth re-creation “Stripping Away” use music from Graham Reynolds originally composed for AADT’s “Geometry of Proximity” (2012).

This is a fun, short, delight set to Grahams “The Pencil Song.”

Other works included in the virtual program are Andrea’s signature solo from 1990, “Broken Head,” and “Life’s a Circus” (1996). These pieces bring together archival excerpts and pre-COVID rehearsal footage for a look inside the re-staging process to new scores by Reynolds.

How can I tune in?

Head to our Long Center Facebook page on Saturday night, September 12 — no Facebook account needed. The show’ll start at 8:00pm CT, but we’ll give you a few minutes to get situated before it starts.

Come with your questions! AADT’s dancers plus composer Graham Reynolds will be live in the chat window to talk with you about the pieces as well as what it’s been like filming from home, getting extra creative with space, and reimagining contemporary dance for the here and now.

See you Saturday night — enjoy this Post-It Experiment #3 from the AADT team while you wait!

This virtual event is free to view. Donations to AADT are welcome on their website, with 20% of all donations received by Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre from the premiere going to Austin Justice Coalition & Black Arts Matters.

REIMAGINE: 30 YEARS | REIMAGINED was created in collaboration with dancers Whitney O’Baugh, Luis Ordaz Gutiérrez, Ceci Proeger, Rebecca McLindon Blanchard, Kevin Armstrong, Sandie Donzica and video editor Colin Lowry.

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.

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