Dancing duo to perform in 'Double/ Take'
Dance seemed to be ever in the cards for Meghan Durham.
"I think I was a very energetic child," the Clintonville resident said last week.
So much so that her parents, graduate students at the time in, by coincidence, Durham, N.C., enrolled their active daughter in a creative movement class.
Meghan Durham has been dancing ever since.
"It just sent me on a lifelong trajectory," the visiting assistant professor of dance at Ohio State University said.
Durham began studying ballet at the age of 6. She attended a performing arts high school in California where she discovered modern dance. She has a master of fine arts from the University of Utah.
Karl Rogers was a theater major at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. The native of Tulsa, Okla., was contemplating a career as an actor, although he was also toying with the idea of law school.
"I actually took a dance class the last quarter of my senior year in college," Rogers recalled.
After moving to Chicago and spending some time in experimental theater and improvisation work, Rogers returned to dance classes. At the age of 24 he moved to Columbus to get his master of fine arts in dance at OSU.
"I took my first ballet class at 25," the campus-area resident said last week. "I used to tell my friends it was the year that I pretended to be an 18-year-old girl, because everyone else in the class was an 18-year-old girl. It took me a while to learn that I had to dance like me, not like them."
These two disparate people, from different parts of the country and from entirely different dance backgrounds, will be combining their talents in "Double/Take," an evening of duets and solo dances Oct. 22-23 at the BalletMet Performance Space, 320 Mount Vernon Ave.
The performances on Friday, Oct. 22, and Saturday, Oct. 23, will begin at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for the general public, $10 for students.
The duo has a dual purpose in presenting their duets. They want to inspire the relatively small independent dance community in Columbus to perhaps follow in their dance steps and seek ways to bring the art form to local audiences, as well as to champion the works of female choreographers.
"The performance will present three original duets for the artists commissioned by choreographers Susan Hadley, Bebe Miller and Lisa Race," according to the announcement put out by Durham. "Two solo premieres, one choreographed and performed each by Meghan Durham and Karl Rogers will complete the evening."
"We chose these three women because we really admired their work, and we also felt they could make us better," Rogers said.
Durham and Rogers, who is a member of the David Dorfman Dance troupe in New York City, met in 2005 at a dance festival.
"There was a very quick affinity," Rogers recalled. "She was a beautiful dancer."
But it was not until last year, Durham said, that she and Rogers, now pursuing a Ph.D. in dance at Ohio State, crossed paths again. They began getting together for improvisational dance sessions, "just trying to figure stuff out," Rogers said.
One thing they quickly figured out, although it's taken nearly a year of planning to pull off, is that they wanted to put on a performance like "Double/Take," according to Durham.
"Columbus is a valid place to make dance and share dance," she said. "We're basically paying to do this, but that's because we believe in it."
"Double/Take" is being funded, in part, by a Franklin County Neighborhood Arts Grant through the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Ohio Dance, a statewide organization that "inclusively supports the diverse and vibrant practice of dance," served as the fiscal conduit for the grant.
The choreographers for the "Double/Take" performance by local dancers Karl Rogers and Meghan Durham are:
• Susan Hadley, who "revisions the duet form," according to the announcement of the Oct. 22-32 shows, in a new work influenced by her experience as both a performer and choreographer.
Hadley was a principal dancer with the Mark Morris Dance Group, performing internationally and on "Dance in America." She was a member of Senta Driver's company "Harry" and she performed with Meredith Monk. As rehearsal director for Mark Morris she worked with Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project, with Zivili's premier of "The Office" and with the Royal Opera's production of "Platee."
Her own work has been performed by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Repertory Dance Theatre, American Repertory Ballet, BalletMet Columbus, Ballet Memphis, Ballet Pacifica, the University Dance Company, CATCO, and Drums Downtown.
Hadley is a professor in the Department of Dance at Ohio State University.
• Bebe Miller, artistic director of Bebe Miller Company and an OSU Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor, is creating a duet that "questions how the past and present intersect in creative process," the announcement states. "Together, the artists are drawing upon existing material from Miller's repertory to excavate new meaning, informed by a contemporary stance."
Miller is a four-time winner of the Bessie Award, a New York Dance and Performance Award, and she has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
• Connecticut-based choreographer Lisa Race spent most of her career as a performer, teacher and choreographer in New York, where her dances have been seen at Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, Movement Research at the Judson Church, and The Kitchen's Work-in-Progress series.
For this performance, Race has created "Thaw," an original duet "that uses space and dynamic physicality to explore the interplay, from frigid to fluid, of two people in relationship." The duet is danced to an original score by Michael Wall, a composer and musician now based in Columbus.