The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa dance community celebrates International Dance Day

While we won’t all get the day off to celebrate, a holiday nears.

All U.N. nations will observe the 31st-annual International Dance Day on April 29 after celebrating National Dance Week.

Interdance, run by Nora Garda and professional dancers and choreographers, will celebrate a couple of days early at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 Fifth St., when it presents Iowa Dance 2013: Dancing Our Visions.

The event title hints at choreographers’ ability to use dance to visually communicate an idea.

“Every dance piece starts with either an image, a feeling, music, a piece of clothing, a dream,” said producer Garda. “Everyday things that sometimes, without knowing why, make you stop and think.

You listen to music that makes you move, see a piece of art, a photograph, kids playing, people walking or driving to work, share a family event, watch a YouTube video, and suddenly, you start seeing dancers moving, and you know that you want to do something with this thing that has started growing inside you.”

Dancers will bring life to University of Iowa adjunct assistant instructor Joan Gonwa’s vision at the event.

“Dance is time, space, and energy all happening at the same time,” she said. “You can focus on any one of those things or all of them. Sometimes they can be very concrete or very abstract, but you’re always communicating something.”

The event, which features a wide range of dance styles performed by groups from various places in Iowa, has been presented for the past seven years.

“All have their own favorite form of dance,” said Shari Stevens, a massage therapist lending her talents to the production. “This event is meant to showcase the wide variety of dancers here in Iowa and to welcome a wide spectrum of people who may want to come and see what this event is all about.”

Many artists stress the amount of preparation time put into a one-night-only event, meaning all the dancers and artists involved appreciate an entire day devoted to their art form.

“In working with the dancers, I am able to observe the individuals and groups and see the tremendous amount of imagination, cooperation, and strenuous physical work that takes place between the idea and performance,” said Louise Rauh, a visual artist for the event. “Often, this is months of choreography and practice for a one-time performance … one just about has to have tremendous amounts of love and dedication or ‘vision’ to even want to attempt this, let alone pull it off.”

The longevity of the process seems similar to choreographer Gonwa as well.

“It’s all about the creative process,” she said. “You may only have an idea, but then the hard work starts. It’s a struggle, but it’s a good struggle. The other thing to really understand is the meaning is in the movement. We’re not interpreting anything.”

The appreciation and admiration is shared by many in the staff who desire a widespread respect for the art.

“I want dance to stop being an underserved art,” said Garda. “Dancers and choreographers are creating, and rehearsing, all the time. And it is important to show your work to audiences. And to share your art and new ideas with other dancers and with the community.”

The event comprises numerous groups dancing in various styles, and they have all been working for months to prepare for this one day. Their work, however, goes back much further — years before, when they all first fell in love with dance.

“Dance should be celebrated every day,” Rauh said. “It is good for the body and soul. I find dance thought-provoking, visually inspiring, and uplifting. There are many tasks that need to be done for a successful program, and I get great satisfaction working with/for the dancers, enabling them to concentrate on their art while I take care of some of the time-consuming details.”

The event is especially important for the Iowa City/Coralville area, because it has such a thriving community of  “dance enthusiasts.”

“It’s important for them to have a celebration of this art form that brings so much into their/our lives,” Stevens said.


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