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Christine Metz Howard
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Groundbreaking KU dance performance to show in NYC

Fri, 02/28/2014

LAWRENCE – An innovative University of Kansas performance that intertwines contemporary dance with video art is headed to New York City in March.

The piece, titled “human, next” is a collaboration between choreographer James Moreno, an assistant dance professor, and visual artist Benjamin Rosenthal, an assistant professor of expanded media. Covering new ground in the way that dance and digital media intersects, “human, next” examines a subject that isn’t often conveyed through dance: what it means to be human in a digital world.

“Dance is often described as the most human of performing arts because the body is the medium,” Moreno said. “So it makes things interesting when we question that and juxtapose real dancers with virtual bodies and ask the question, ‘What is humanity now’?”

The 12-minute piece, which premiered at the Lied Center in November, will be performed in New York City as part of the dance series the CURRENT SESSIONS: Volume IV, Issue 1. The performance, which will include four KU student dancers, will be March 8-9 at the venue Wild Project in the East Village. The CURRENT SESSIONS is a dance organization and presenting series that showcases innovative contemporary performances from up-and-coming and mid-career choreographers in biannual performances.

In “human, next” the dancers on stage interact with projected images of animated virtual bodies on the screen behind them. The score, created by Rosenthal, is composed of sounds from computer operating systems, including the familiar startup tone of a Mac. Throughout the piece, the live dancers and virtual bodies engage in shifting struggles for control. The audience is asked to question what is real and virtual.

“Those boundaries are becoming virtually indistinguishable, which we think is a really challenging conceptual position to negotiate,” Rosenthal said. “We are questioning if that matters and that the authenticity of an experience, whether it is real or virtual, may be effectively the same thing in our contemporary hybrid condition.”

Rosenthal and Moreno were admirers of each other’s work before the project. Rosenthal has exhibited his work internationally, and Moreno is a Fulbright scholar who has choreographed for the National School of Dance of Panama, Northwestern University and Repertory Dance Theater. Both men were looking for an opportunity to collaborate on a project that drew from other disciplines.

“This is not just another dance,” Moreno said. “It is a complex presentation of different art forms. And the ideas about what happens when technology and the human body intersect are not only treated abstractly but are inherent in the physical process of creating the work.”

The performance in New York City is the first phase of a four-part piece that will ultimately come together as an evening-length work. A new phase will be produced each semester. In phase II, Moreno and Rosenthal plan to incorporate video monitors that dancers will move around and interact with on stage. A parallel component to the ongoing project, Rosenthal’s single-channel version of the first phase of the work — "Human, Next: Phase One" — will premiere early April in a screening curated by artist Darrin Martin at Vanity Projects in New York City.

Following the New York City performance, the six KU student dancers who originated the piece at the Lied Center will perform it at the American College Dance Festival in Chicago.

The first phase of “human, next” was made possible from a grant through the KU Hall Center for the Humanities.



When looking to tackle the issue of obesity in rural America, where should we start? The answer is not what you might think. Empathy, says Christie Befort, an associate professor at KU who has just won a $10 million award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to investigate solutions to rural obesity. Many physicians are embarrassed talking about weight—especially in a small town where everybody knows each other, Befort says. By providing obesity treatment options in rural primary care, she plans to start a conversation, and maybe a revolution, in rural health care. For more details on Befort's efforts, check out the 2015 Chancellor's Report: http://bit.ly/1D5A5MO and her video: http://bit.ly/1C5xYZa Tags: #KUcommunities #Obesity #Health #Rural #Midwest Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute - PCORI

Whistling the night away. #exploreKU shot by saamanthathomas on insta. http://t.co/JFZcj31X8h
Explore KU: Experience a KU Men's Basketball tradition It’s explosive. It’s dramatic. It’s intimidating. It’s a KU tradition (see more at http://bit.ly/KUtraditions) simply known as the Confetti Toss. But it creates a primal eruption of fan enthusiasm at the opening of every KU men’s basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse. It starts as the visiting team is introduced on court. The KU student section is visibly bored and unimpressed. The entire section under the north basket holds up University Daily Kansans — making the point they’d rather read the newspaper than even look at the other team. They shake and rustle the student newspapers. Then the moment they were waiting for arrives — the Jayhawks enter the court. All Rock Chalk breaks loose. Newspapers, confetti and thousands of thundering voices soar into already charged atmosphere of KU’s hallowed basketball arena. The confetti hits its high point, near the banner on the north wall reading “Pay Heed, All Who Enter: Beware of the Phog.” And the confetti rains back into the stands, onto the court and into the memories of all at hand. It’s time to play.


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