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Combined Minds: an Artistic Collaboration by Krystle Brewer

(left) Portico Dans Theatre (right) Glenn Herbert Davis, Tulsa, Over, Mixed media, 11’ x 13’ 5” x 5’ 11”

A fusion of dance and theatre combines a variety of dance styles including jazz, contemporary, hip-hop and aerial with acting to create a unique performance experience. Portico Dans Theatre’s upcoming show Combined Minds follows the tribulations of a troubled young girl caught between childhood and adulthood that is forced to cope with bullying for her desire to stay a kid. The cast consists of 15 adults and 10 children who act out with dance the difficulty of growing up. Despite the inclusion of young cast members, this magical yet dark tale with personified toys plotting revenge is intended for adults and mature children due to the themes portrayed. Uniting visual artists such as videographers and installation artists as well as musicians, the dance company has found new ways to create vibrant productions. In this multidisciplinary performance, original video by videographer Jeff Anderson is incorporated into the storyline to add another dimension

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to the set. “The collaboration between artists has made this project greater than a work by any one person or even the sum of its parts. It truly supports the theme of Combined Minds,” said Anderson of the project. The theatre once used video only during interludes but the group has pushed the concept further to weave video throughout the performance itself. Although most of their performances have a simplistic approach to their sets taking place in non-traditional venues such as gardens, galleries and even in the street, in this production they adopted a collaborative and inclusive approach incorporating installation pieces by renowned Tulsa artist Glenn Herbert Davis. “Working this translation, extremes of functionality, and provisions for dancers are three key aspects that drew me to this opportunity. Frankly too, installation and performance art owe such a debt to theater that it’s only natural that I attempt to walk on stage,” said Davis. During the show, the dancers will interact with an oversized toy

box, jack-in-the-box, and barrel of monkeys. After the performance, Davis anticipates showing the works alongside other works of his in the traditional gallery setting to allow viewers a closer look. For this performance the co-artistic directors Jennifer Alden and Michael J. Lopez “combined their minds” to create the concept, direction, and choreography. All of the works performed by Portico Dans Theatre are written or rewritten adaptations of classic stories to create vibrant original shows. Working collaboratively and pushing the limits of performance has created a dynamic group of artists from varying backgrounds, each with something different to offer to the whole. With all of the dancers holding “day jobs” while working with the theatre, they acquire different perspectives to bring to the varying projects. This approach to theatre has been found to be successful for both viewers who want an outlet to view contemporary dance in a

Art Focus Oklahoma, July/August 2013  

July/August 2013 Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight into a...