The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Meadows students perform ‘Quarryography’

When most people hear the phrase “dancing with puppets,” they think of Sesame Street.

However, nine dance students used just that thought to perform a modern creative movement called “Quarryography.”

Last August, Michael Wright, Matt Walfish, Megan Crichton, Alex Karigan, Jessica Bendig, Zac Hammer, Bethany Palmer, Nicole Honora and Breanna Gribble were accompanied by Professor Patty Harrington-Delaney on an excursion to a granite quarry on Deer Island, Maine.

Though it may seem like an odd place for a performance, the dance was choreographed around the site and involved all of the organic aspects within the quarry.

Choreographer Alison Chase was inspired by the vastness of the scene and the massive pink stone to create a production that brought the element of man into nature.

“I’ve gained a new appreciation for site specific works of art,” Zac Hammer said. “It’s hard to dance on uneven terrain and the piece could be affected by a number of reasons beyond our control.”

SMU got involved with the piece when Chase worked with Delaney to set the score for a performance piece called “Alrune.”

They continued to communicate and Chase later invited Delaney and her dancers to perform in “Quarryography.”

Chase is a member of the Pilobolus, dance company. The company’s pieces focus on dancers achieving positions and physical shapes that appear impossible, but through the use of weight balancing and improvised movement.

“Most trained dancers are used to learning strict routines, so the chance to do improvisational movements was challenging at first but turned out to be a great experience.” Hammer said.

Pilobolus also involves many partner motions and the lifting and contorting of the human body.

“Pilobolus forces the performer to focus on what’s happening in the body when they’re doing lifts, rather than manhandling the other dancer.” Delaney said.

The puppet came into play when a rusty cable running through the rock in the quarry inspired artist and dancer Mia Kanazawa.

She constructed the 25-foot puppet out of foam and painted it the color of rust so she was able to create something malleable that could be danced with but still looked like metal.

The prop was then named Cableman.

“At first we were all a little unsure about the puppet; it sounded crazy,” Hammer said. “Once we finally saw it in person we realized that it would be a very important part of our performance.”

The unusual experience challenged students to deal with the elements and allow their spirits to move them instead of their heads.

The new techniques have been brought back to campus and will be available to the general student population in the near future.

“I’ve been using the techniques we learned at ‘Quarryography’ in my classes,” Delaney said, “and you can look forward to seeing elements of it for yourself at this year’s Brown Bag performance.”

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