Author: Becca Vaclavik

Undoing and remaking dance: 2020’s “[un]WRAP” is apropos of the times

In a typical year, the Department of Theatre & Dance plans its season well in advance, choosing events long before audiences experience them live. Of course, 2020 is anything but a typical year. So when COVID-19 shut down campus in March, leadership was forced to scrap a nearly complete season and envision something new for 2020-21. CU Presents sat down (virtually, of course!) with Associate Chair of Dance Helanius J. Wilkins to discuss this year’s pandemic-inspired “[un]WRAP” symposium.

Presented annually, “[un]WRAP” is a week-long symposium and culminating performance that brings national and international artists in-house, giving CU Boulder dance students the opportunity to collaborate with artists they might not otherwise meet. Additionally, it helps the department explore how our community’s work and experiences are in conversation with a larger national narrative.

What better way to accomplish these goals in 2020, then, than a symposium that explores access barriers in dance brought to the forefront this past year—and imagines how dance might meet those inequities head on? In other words, the undoing of the field, then the remaking of it.

“COVID-19 put us in a space of doing some deep thinking around how to use this platform as a vehicle to continue to hold together and nurture a sense of community,” says Associate Chair of Dance Helanius J. Wilkins.

“We decided to do something that places us in the space of expanding our conversations. Because we’re having those conversations internally; why not have them more broadly? Why not bring in other artists who are grappling with some of the same questions to hear how they’re navigating this new pandemic reality?”

“[un]WRAP: (un)doing and (re)making” cover themes ranging from dance and disability, to community engagement and activism, to dreaming how 2020’s techniques can become an integral part of post-pandemic dance and theatre. Its lineup features more than a dozen internationally renowned activists and thought leaders, including several Creative Capital awardees. While students will be invited to several exclusive remote master classes and panels, there are two public-facing events for the community—an informal, virtual coffee conversation with the artists and a remote pre-performance talk—in addition to a final video performance for all.

“Even though everyone will be in their own space, that distance has allowed us to recruit a diverse and inclusive body of individuals,” says Wilkins. “We asked ourselves: How do we mobilize? Whose work is rising up? Who is trying on new concepts and new ways of making and arriving somewhere?”

Wilkins hopes the symposium will serve as a reminder for curious hearts and minds that, despite the recent hit they’ve taken financially, the making of theatre and dance continues to be essential to everyday life.

“Dance is at the center of building and restoring community. It is at the center of healing. At times when we’re in tremendous upheaval, dance keeps us grounded and reminds us that we are human. So why would it not be an alive time to be experiencing dance?”

The final performance of “[un]WRAP: (un)doing and (re)making” is available to stream Nov. 13-19. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $7 for CU Boulder students, faculty and staff. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit cupresents.org.

Schedule of public events

Informal coffee conversation

Free virtual event, Sunday, Nov. 8, 4:30 p.m. MST
Join via Zoom (password: 111320)
Join in on this casual conversation about creativity and dance making in these times.
Featuring guests jumatatu m. poe, Holly Johnston, Paloma McGregor, Bill Shannon, and Darrell Jones; moderated by rick h m

Pre-performance talk

Free virtual event, Friday, Nov. 13, 6:45 p.m. MST
Join via Zoom (password: 111320)
Hear some of our featured guests talk about the works they are presenting in this year’s [un]WRAP.
Featuring guests MK Abadoo, Millicent Johnnie, randy edward reyes, and Bill Shannon; moderated by Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Marcos Steuernagel

[un]WRAP: (un)doing and (re)making

$10 tickets, streaming Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m.- Nov. 19, 11 p.m. | Buy tickets
In (un)doing and (re)making, CU faculty and students join a radical re-imagining necessitated by the strain of the global pandemic. Inspired by the international conversation currently unfolding about inequity in dance, this year’s [un]WRAP investigates the ways the form is both surviving and striving to (re)assemble itself. Audiences are invited to lean in, engage, and lay the foundation for what’s to come.
Works by MK Abadoo, Millicent Marie Johnnie, Paloma McGregor, jumatatu m. poe, randy edward reyes, Bill Shannon, and Amy Smith

 

Photo Credit: “Fishtrap” collaborators Oceana James and Jaimé Yawa Dzandu. Photo by Erik Carter, courtesy of Paloma McGregor.