Modern Dance Concert
Saturday, August 17, 2019
The Dance Lab rm 1241
Franklin Jr. High, 4801 Franklin Ave. Des Moines, IA
Four for Three
Hurley & Dancers
Choreography by Alan Sener
Music by J.S. Bach
Performed by Elizabeth Ferreira, Lisa Lewis, and Natalie Nease (Premiered in 1999, The Chamber Dancers/Hurley & Dancers)
Kujenga in Five Sections
Hurley & Dancers
Choreography by Kathleen Hurley
Music by John Williams, soundscapes by Ian Gordon
Performed by David Decker, Elizabeth Ferreira, Carla Hughes, Kathleen Hurley, Lisa Lewis, Lana Lyddon Hatten, Natalie Nease, and Ben Rethmeier
Directors Notes on Kujenga in Five Sections
Hurley & Dancers presents Kujenga, a dance in five sections inspired by the wooden game of Jenga© in which participants take turns removing a block and placing it on top of a tower. The game ends when the tower topples but yet another could begin. Our dance today uses both wooden pieces and live bodies in a game of weight sharing, trust, and chance.
My choreography description is inspired and should be partially credited to an anonymous blog on enlightened.com (Jenga Metaphor, Dec. 28, 1017). For those new to the game of Jenga, each participant takes a turn removing one of the blocks not located on the top three levels and places it on top of the tower without knocking it down, thus building the tower higher and higher.
Seems easy, right? There is just one problem.
The problem is that as each person takes their turn, the base of the tower progressively becomes more unstable. The base of the tower struggles to support its heavy top until it eventually collapses signaling the conclusion of the game with the loser being the participant who pulled the block that caused the demolition.
Jenga, derived from the Swahili word Kujenga meaning “to build”, represents more than just a tower of building blocks. After all, over the course of our lives as human beings, we find ourselves building many things. On a broad scale, we build relationships, projects, careers, and ultimately, lives that we hope we can look back on with fondness when we approach our life’s end. However, instead of using blocks to build all these things that make up our lives, we use choices. And, these choices can accumulate for decades. Decisions such as continuing one’s education, choosing where to live, marrying a given person (or not), having children (or not), working at an organization, moving, or maybe starting your own company are all the building blocks that we utilize to build our worlds, our lives. Every decision is made at a specific time, like the Jenga blocks, yet they are all connected.
Just as the Jenga participant must decide which block to remove, we too, must decide which decision will get us to where we want to go next. However, in order to build something great, risks must be taken. Even in removing the loosest block from the tower, there is still the risk that an unsteady hand or some other force of nature will cause the tower to crumble. Things do not always go according to plan.
Sometimes, a magnificent Jenga tower will be built but eventually you’ll run out of moves. Then you must decide: either stay as you are, or take a chance deciding to remove a block and risk the tower tumbling down. Despite its simplicity, Jenga is a game that requires much thought and delicacy. Life, and this dance, are the same way. As we enter any new chapter of our lives -- not only as the main characters of our own story, but also as supporting characters in the stories of others -- we will always be asked to make an abundance of choices.
And, the tower may fall. And, when that happens, everyone around us is a witness, to view with a magnifying glass or binoculars, every choice made. I think about the time I wondered if people might be whispering behind my back about my divorce and how everyone knew all my foibles and pain. But there were also people watching and ready to jump in and help - people who knew my flaws and loved me anyway. There is always opportunity in the destruction of the wooden blocks or our life choices. We are given the chance to build again: Kujenga.
Thank you for watching!
Artistic Director, Hurley & Dancers
Founded in 2001, Hurley & Dancers is a professional modern dance company based in Des Moines that presents public performances, dance educational outreach and encourages artistic collaboration. Comprised of professional dancers and dance educators, the company brings together instructors from area universities, colleges, and studios who are actively performing and choreographing in their field. The company has enjoyed performances in the Midwest and Canada. Recently Hurley has been conducting educational outreach for Des Moines Performing Arts partner schools.
Kathleen Hurley is the founder and Artistic Director of Hurley & Dancers/Tandem Theatre and Dance, and also was the founder and Artistic Director of The Chamber Dancers, 1996-2001. Her dance career includes performances with Yancey Dance Theatre and the Doris Humphrey Dance Ensemble in New York City and guest appearances in Germany and Mexico. In addition, she was a member of Pennsylvania Dance Theatre, touring the east coast and Europe. Kathleen is an honors graduate of the University of Iowa where she toured to Hong Kong with the Dancers to Go Company. Her Iowa dance career also included performances with Iowa Dance Theatre and The Neuman Project. She teaches dance at Grinnell College, Central Academy, and Des Moines DanzArts Studio. Her teaching resume also includes teaching for the Limon Institute in Manhattan, Perry Dance in NYC, Dance Space in NYC, Long Island University, Lind Dance School and Iowa State University workshops.