In the Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers' performance this weekend, the company’s dancers are spreading their wings — for the first time in the company’s history, the dancers are choreographing collaboratively and performing in each other’s work. The dancers worked with the board of directors to develop the idea; in fact, they all deliberately kept the project a secret from artistic director Kun-Yang Lin and executive director Ken Metzner for the first two months of rehearsal; no easy task, given how excited all the dancers were.
The one-night-only show, Grains of Sand in the Mandala, was designed as a gift for the company directors. “As the title suggests, we’re all a part of this greater whole, the KYL/D family,” explained company dancer and studio operations coordinator Jessica Warchal-King. “Like grains of sand in the mandala, we’re each different, but together create a beautiful image that is immersed with greater meaning. Like Kun-Yang’s work, the dancers he chooses are multi-faceted,” she continued. “We’re dancers, educators, choreographers, thinkers, dreamers, and seekers. We would not be who we are without Kun-Yang’s cultivation of our individual dance and movement histories.”
About half of the show’s pieces are world premieres created specifically for this show, though some had already premiered at Temple University’s Conwell Dance Theater. Warchal-King said, “Personally, I’m excited to share my own choreography with so many people who have watched me grow as a performer. I’m also excited to share the stage with two brand new collaborators to my process, Jessica Lynch and Carl Lichtner.” Warchal-King’s piece includes dancing, acting, singing, and guitar playing. Other pieces include contemporary dance solos and rumba duets.
For Warchal-King, the most exciting part of this show is getting to see the company dancers, administrators, and board members in a new light. She explained, “The dancers, staff, and board members have shared talents that were always a part of them, but are not reflected in their roles in the company.” In the course of this project, dancers have become administrators, the administrators have become visual artists and poets, and board members have become physical performers. “This performance allows different facets of the individuals we know well, to be revealed.”
What can audiences expect to see at the show this Saturday night?
“Expect to laugh from your belly, sigh in contentment, and maybe get a little teary-eyed,” said Warchal-King. “Audiences will get a deeper look into who we are as artists through the lens of our own creative voices. Expect to develop a personal connection and a link to the KYL/D family.”
Grains of Sand in the Mandala: Saturday, December 14, 7:30pm, CHI Movement Arts Center, 1316 S 9th St, Philadelphia (one block south of Pat’s and Geno’s cheesesteak emporia). Tickets: $20, $18 for students, seniors, and dance professionals. Online at the Dance Box Office or call 267-687-3739.
(Photo by Bill Hebert)