Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Stream Now
Click Here for More Articles on Stream Now

Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble Rooms Sypmosium Now Available Online

Students at seven colleges are studying and presenting excerpts of Rooms this year, and no two schools produced the piece the same way.

Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble Rooms Sypmosium Now Available Online

Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble's symposium on Anna Sokolow's Rooms that took place on December 5, 2020, is now available online for review at sokolowtheatredance.org/12-5-celebrating-65-years-of-rooms/. With over 165 attendees from around the globe, the free event was moderated by Dance Enthusiast Founder and Editor in Chief Christine Jowers, and featured speakers from the Library of Congress, Prof. Neil Baldwin, and dancers who have performed Rooms across a half-century. For more information, visitsokolowtheatredance.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."

"Rooms symposium was originally conceived for a group of young students working together as an isolated piece, but it became something huge," Ms. Geracht added. "The conversation at the Symposium among the generations of dancers who are now all part of the history of Rooms was an excellent tribute to Anna Sokolow's legacy, and a testament to the power and timelessness of Rooms."

To watch the symposium on Vimeo, visit vimeo.com/489640311. You can also watch a recording of Rooms2020 at sokolowtheatredance.org/video-rooms2020/ or on Vimeo at vimeo.com/432629310.

"Anna Sokolow. A force in modern dance," said Dance Enthusiast Founder and Editor in Chief Christine Jowers. "I was honored and blessed to be asked by Samantha Geracht-Myers, Artistic Director of the Sokolow Theater Dance Company, to moderate a symposium about her seminal work Rooms. The dance world celebrates the 65th anniversary of that piece this year. And the company who had rehearsed diligently for a live anniversary performance was forced to shift their plans and create a digital version. Kudos to them for learning the new technology on the spot and bringing the dance in a brand-new way to a younger generation."

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 were 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 presented included 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 included dancers who have performed Rooms over a half-century: Jim May, Hannah Kahn, Susan Thomasson, Nancy Alfaro, Eleanor Bunker, Luis Gabriel Zaragoza, and Pablo Francisco Ruvalcaba.

Panels also included several film makers, creators of pandemic virtual Roomsevents. The event incorporated 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 palpable the 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 invisible contagions, 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 teachRooms 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 - re-envisioning the mid-century masterpiece for this modern era.

About the Speakers

Neil Baldwin, PhD, is Critic in Residence at The Blended Campus, Professor Emeritus of Theatre & Dance in the College of the Arts at Montclair State University, and 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.


Featured at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

Related Articles

More Hot Stories For You