It might be tempting fate to create a piece called “Under the Great Ice Sheet” to be performed in Erie’s maddeningly capricious late-winter climate. But fate and its consequences are among the themes of Dafmark Dance Theater’s spring season presentation April 1 and 2 at the company’s State Street studio.
The title is drawn from a somber poem by a recently incarcerated poet from Myanmar that can be read from beginning to end or in the opposite direction without losing any of its poignancy.
Baier has never been afraid to take on the big questions in her work and inspired by some of the most affecting poetry of the 20th and 21st centuries, “Under the Ice Sheet” confronts the most profound of them: war, displacement, cruelty. “Coppelia” this is not.
But “Under the Great Ice Sheet” is also about something else: collaboration in cooperation, if not in its subject then certainly in its execution. Baier’s cast includes her principal soloist Jen Dennehy, guest performer Scott Heinrich, musician Kelly Armor, actor/dancer Kara Gladney and visual artist Marsha Cisek who will create a work of art in real time during the performance. Also on the program, original compositions by Vin Brocki as well as the inspired recording of the Burmese poem by Paula Barrett. “I was thinking about the luck I have working with women that are engaged in questioning our humanity. All have an ability to take my material and bring their own understanding to this production,” Baier said. “I am thinking of them more like a choir or an orchestra when each instrument is tuned separately, but is interchangeable because there is an understanding of how separate voices complement each other.”
There are also interludes of light and even lightness that attest to the resiliency of the human condition. As Jean-Marc Baier, her partner in life and work asserted, “This production is an artistic response to the madness of our times.”
“In weaving these art forms together, I have juxtaposed different responses to this period of time in our lives, voices of dissent, voices of personal response, of interpretation, and of creative inspiration. All those past and present voices hopefully have the power to question, touch, throw a light on our surroundings and to inspire human capacity to act.” Dafna Baier said. “And this weekend marks the completion of this specific journey. ”
If only we could say the same about the madness that inspired it
Under the Great Ice Sheet will receive two performances, April 1 and 2, 8 p.m. at Dafmark Dance Theater, 1033 State St., Erie, Pennsylvania, $15 available here.