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Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble Presents Free ROOMS Symposium Celebrating 65 Years Of Sokolow's ROOMS

The virtual event will take place December 5, 2020.

Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble Presents Free ROOMS Symposium Celebrating 65 Years Of Sokolow's ROOMS

Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble will present a symposium on Anna Sokolow's Rooms on December 5, 2020. This FREE event will be moderated by Dance Enthusiast Founder and Editor in Chief Christine Jowers, and feature speakers from the Library of Congress, Prof. Neil Baldwin, and dancers who have performed Rooms across a half-century. The symposium will be open to the public and hosted as a Zoom webinar. To register, visit www.sokolowtheatredance.org.

Artistic Director Samantha Geracht, Associate Artistic Directors Eleanor Bunker and Lauren Naslund and company members have been teaching - virtually - sections from Rooms this fall to college dance departments around the country.

"The pandemic is still with us and we are all in uncharted artistic territory," said Ms. Geracht. "The creativity and determination with which the dancers, faculty, and staff have met these new challenges have been inspirational."

Students at seven colleges are studying and presenting excerpts of Rooms this year, and no two schools produced the piece the same way. In attendance at the symposium will be members of each college, including Kansas State University, Loyola University Chicago, CSU Fullerton, Williams College, University of Southern Idaho, Kanopy Dance, and Ailey/Fordham.

The speakers who will present include Neil Baldwin, PhD, author of Martha Graham: When Dance Became Modern, forthcoming from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.; Library of Congress Dance Curator and Archivist Libby Smigel, PhD; and Library of Congress Senior Musicologist Loras John Schissel. Smaller group panels will include dancers who have performed Rooms over a half-century: Jim May, Hannah Kahn, Susan Thomasson, Luis Gabriel Zaragoza, Kristen Foote, Daniel Fetecua Soto, and Pablo Francisco Ruvalcaba.

Panels will also include several film makers, creators of pandemic virtual

Rooms events. The event will incorporate a collage from virtual performances made during lockdown this fall.

Celebrating 65 years of Rooms

"Art is a mirror."

If life imitates art far more than art imitates life, then Anna Sokolow was distinctly ahead of her time.

Rooms, Sokolow's 1955 masterpiece, examined the psychic isolation and unfulfilled desires of characters isolated in their small, city apartments. The controversial and groundbreaking work probed and made palpablethe loneliness and alienation following the breakdown of wartime solidarity, when the threat of atomic annihilation, the 1952 polio epidemic, and the Red Scare hung like invisiblecontagions, spreading pervasive anxiety and dread over America.

The Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble began rehearsals for Rooms in August 2019 as one half of a concert series scheduled for March 2020 entitled "Real+Surreal" that would include Sokolow's 1970 surrealist dance/theatre work Magritte, Magritte.

Rooms was intended to be the 'real'half of a program that celebrated these works on their 65th and 50th anniversaries.

Then, a new contagion spread across the world, and human existence changed. In 2020, Rooms has become both real and surreal. Anna Sokolow's 1955 choreography resonates with uncanny power in a world where people everywhere are living quarantined in their homes. Surely, cut off from each other in the grip of a global pandemic, we are all living Rooms.

This abrupt change in circumstances has forced an adaptation in our approach to

Rooms that has required the company to rise to unique challenges to its directors, its dancers, and in how the performance was presented.

Separated from one another - our rehearsals and theater dates cancelled - the Sokolow/Theatre Dance Ensemble came together to create a virtual presentation of

Rooms. Buoyed by the possibilities of ways to rethink and teach Rooms remotely, the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble has collaborated with colleges across the country to create their own virtual productions of Rooms during this pandemic year - reenvisioning the mid-century masterpiece for this modern era.

About the Speakers

Neil Baldwin, PhD, is a critic in Residence at The Blended Campus, a Professor Emeritus of Theatre & Dance in the College of the Arts at Montclair State University, and the author of Martha Graham: When Dance Became Modern , forthcoming from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Libby Smigel, PhD, is a Dance Curator and Archivist in the Music Division of the Library of Congress.

Loras John Schissel is a senior musicologist at the Library of Congress and a leading authority on the music of Percy Aldridge Grainger, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Serge Koussevitzky.


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