Natasha Carlitz Dance Ensemble recently gave us a preview of its new show, "Momentum." If you’re intrigued by the idea of an evening dedicated to math- and science-themed dance, be sure to save the date for the fully-staged production, at Cowell Theater in San Francisco on October 17 and 18.
"I think math actually translates to dance really well," says company founder Natasha Carlitz. "Math is an intrinsic part of music, and music and dance are, for me anyway, tightly intertwined. But dance has access to so many more ways to play with math – tempo and structure, yes, but also spatial arrangements, shapes, and colors."
Carlitz founded her Ensemble in 2005 and is the principal choreographer, although she sometimes stages pieces by company members and others. This program contains new pieces as well as older repertoire, with dancers Rebekah Brown, Maggie Hurd, and Erica Pinigis contributing new works to the program.
"I think that the inclusion of other choreographers' work is a wonderful way to leaven the program with some different movement styles and perspectives," says Carlitz.
A prolific choreographer, Carlitz says she receives inspiration constantly from a variety of stimuli. "I think that because choreography is my primary means of artistic expression, anything that grabs my attention and excites me eventually gets me thinking: ‘How can I use or portray this in dance?’" she says. "Two of the newest pieces in this program were inspired by YouTube videos my engineer boyfriend showed me, one of pendulums swinging in and out of sync, and one of a fractal zoom. Both made me think, ‘I want to reproduce that with bodies in motion!’
"One piece began as an elegy for my grandfather, who was a number theorist, and whose work suddenly seemed to me like the perfect basis for the most ambitious piece I'd ever undertaken at that time – "Linear Transformations," which was completed in 2000."
Since this show — at Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco on June 13 and 14 — was a preview, several of the pieces were excerpted, or still in progress. I especially look forward to seeing Carlitz’s "Linear Transformations" in its entirety, as well as the completed version of "Scaled to Fit Page," an inventive and mesmerizing piece by Carlitz dancer Maggie Hurd.
Between pieces, Carlitz (through narrator Paul Colley) provides a commentary explaining the mathematical principles that gave rise to the movement or structure of an upcoming piece. While the dances could certainly stand alone, hearing the theory before viewing the piece provides a welcome context, and a reminder that things we take for granted – waves on a beach, or branches on a tree – can be expressed in the language of mathematics. And, as it happens, dance.
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