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

UI Dance Company blends dancing and audio narration in latest performance

The UI Dance Company performed an excerpt of their newest work, “Winning,” on Friday in partnership with the Iowa City Public Library. 
Ava Neumaier
Amelia Fisher is held up by The University of Iowa Dance Company during a performance of “Winning” by Artistic Director Stephanie Miracle, an interactive dance for an audience of children at the Iowa City Public Library on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023.

With vivid use of audio narration during the entire show, the University of Iowa’s Dance Company featured an excerpt of their newest work, “Winning,” on Friday. 

In partnership with the Iowa City Public Library, the unique performance blended elements of dance and audio description, encouraging audience interaction and participation. 

Toward the beginning of the show, audience members were invited to spread out around the room and warm up with dance company members. Most of the audience, especially the younger ones, eagerly agreed and participated in a few exercises and stretches. 

After warm-ups ended, the performance began. With vivid use of audio description during the entire show, “Winning” used narration of the dancers’ movements that followed the dances onstage. 

While this is typically nontraditional, the audio description was used to engage those who are blind or visually impaired. Vocalizing the onstage movements into words allowed everyone to fully enjoy the show.

Cami Rezabek works as a rehearsal assistant for the UI Dance Company. She is also in charge of reading out the audio descriptions for “Winning.”

“[Audio description] takes some practice. Once I’ve had a chance to work with the dancers and try it out a few times, it isn’t so hard anymore,” Rezabek said. 

Typically, professional audio descriptors aren’t included in rehearsals. Rezabek, however, is.

“I feel I have insider knowledge,” she added.

Rezabek will be working with the dance company throughout its entire season. This year, every work that they perform will include a form of audio description. 

However, “Winning” is the only piece in which the audio descriptions are a part of the performance, whereas other performances will provide headphones upon request. 

“I thought it was cool that the audio description added another layer of sensory details. The performance felt more like a story to me,” Mari Redington, a children’s services librarian at the Iowa City Public Library, said. 

Redington promoted the event by putting up posters in the library and posting descriptions of the event on social media forums.

“It is really important that art is inclusive, and I appreciate that [the UI Dance Company] was able to add something like that,” Redington added.

The event was also held on a day that public schools in the area canceled classes to give more children in the Iowa City community the opportunity to attend. 

“In these projects, I’m thinking about my relationship to what is around me,” Stephanie Miracle, UI assistant professor of dance and the artistic director of the UI Dance Company, said.

According to Miracle, “Winning” is still a work in progress, and the final concert is set for Feb. 22-24 in Space Place Theater, located in the UI’s North Hall.

“In the dance, I wanted to step outside the concepts of ‘winning,’ and ‘losing,’ and simply celebrate what is alive. I also wanted to ask a series of important questions, What am I cheering for? Where do I feel most alive?” Miracle said. 

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About the Contributors
Riley Dunn
Riley Dunn, Arts Reporter
Riley Dunn is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in English and Creative Writing and Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to her time at the DI, Riley interned for Swimming World Magazine.
Ava Neumaier
Ava Neumaier, Photojournalist
Ava Neumaier is a first-year student at the University of Iowa, majoring in English & Creative Writing. She was the Editor-in-Chief of her high school yearbook in New York, and has interned for a New York Times photographer. She enjoys taking pictures of performances and student life.