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Two Places at Once: Prof. Bory on Dancing in the Digital Age

Allison Bory
Dance Prof. Alison Bory (standing) performs with fellow AGA Collaborative members Gretchen Alterowitz and Amanda Hamp.

In a world where FaceTime mimics face-to-face time, Skype supplants cell service, and conference calls replace conference rooms, being in the same physical space with a colleague or coworker is increasingly less necessary. On Aug. 30 AGA Collaborative, a trio of artist-scholars, will perform three original pieces in Davidson's Barber Theater and demonstrate that even the most interpersonal of industries–like dance–can benefit from internet-enabled collaboration.

Davidson Dance Professor Alison Bory and her colleagues, UNC Charlotte Dance Professor Gretchen Alterowitz and Iowa-based artist-scholar Amanda Hamp, use technology to collaborate on research, writing, teaching, choreography and performance. With the help of the Google Hangout plugin (free software that enables group video conversations), the three hold virtual dance rehearsals from their individual studios.

"The process is very significant to the product," Bory said. "We appreciate what technology affords us, but actually all of us are really resistant to technology in general," Bory said.

One of the pieces they will perform, "and how to be in two places at once," speaks to those conflicting feelings about technology.

Computer screens demand a certain type of (frontal) interface, a limitation that does not exist when the trio is able to rehearse together in the same studio space. Still, the ability to create original work with respected colleagues across geographic distance makes the challenge of virtual rehearsal worth it.

"As in any collaboration, working together we get to places we might not get independently," Bory said.

Over the last four years, the trio has combined virtual rehearsals with intensive in-person summer workshops at various locations, the most recent being at a studio at UNC Charlotte in July. The group has performed original works at UNC Charlotte; the University of North Carolina, Greensboro; Colby College; Luther College; Queens University; and in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Spoke-the-Hub in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"We think of our work together as creating a fourth voice," Bory said. Separate from, but in complement to their individual research, "this collaboration and the work we produce is a way to speak to something profound in our own lives," Bory said, and though it can be challenging, the women want their work to be relevant and relatable for their audience members.

"Our compositions encourage audience contemplation and introspection, rather than promoting physical spectacle and entertaining diversion," Bory said.

"We all have histories. They reside in a physical, palpable place–our bodies–and something special happens when those bodies come into the same space together," she said.

Saturday's show incorporates elements of contemporary dance, spoken word, visual projections and recordings.

"We want people to re-think their perception of dance," Bory said, and, to re-think ways to create collaborative works of dance. "I want students and other audience members to see there are many ways of working, and the way you work appears on the stage," she said.

Following the performance, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Barber Theatre, audience members may participate in a conversation with the artists, moderated by Jeanmarie Higgins, assistant professor of dramaturgy at UNC Charlotte.

Details

When: 7:30 p.m., Aug. 30
Where: Barber Theatre, Cunningham Theatre Center, Davidson College
Admission: Admission is free, though seating is limited
The audience is invited to stay for a moderated discussion with the artists following the performance.