Back to all news stories

Dancin' in the streets...and a few other places

Consider this a case of how dancers make a social statement.

As audiences walked along a four-block route in downtown Ann Arbor to watch dancers perform in historic buildings, alleys, sidewalks and in a garden, the hope was for observers to ask: What if there were a greenway to connect these spaces to the outlying neighborhoods?

Someday, that greenway could become a reality. And, at the least, the route will never be quite thought of in the same way again.

From the performance inside the historic Pratt Building to the corner of First Street and West Liberty, dancers from Ann Arbor Dance Works offered engaging interpretations of the layered histories of downtown landmarks.  Novel and highly inventive, “Corsets, Grains, & Greenways: Dancing Downtown Ann Arbor,” was held June 7-9, and evoked the past, present and future in a series of contemporary dance works performed in spaces of “continuous reinvention, restoration and metamorphosis,” according to Jessica Fogel, University of Michigan Professor of Dance, and Artistic Director of Ann Arbor Dance Works.

Over 90 minutes, “Corsets, Grains, & Greeways” featured choreographic performances of contemporary dance premieres by guest artists Monica Bill Barnes, Adesola Akinleye and Dance Works resident choreographers Fogel and Robin Wilson. Dance works is the resident dance company of the University of Michigan Department of Dance. In addition to working with guest choreographers from around the world, Dance Works collaborates with poets, videographers and composers.

Site One: WSG Gallery inside the Pratt Building on Main Street. The building has been used as a corset factory, hardware store and department store. The dance for eight women choreographed by Fogel was inspired by the building’s history and current figurative painting exhibit.

Site Two: Audiences were directed from WGS Gallery to the Kline Gallery to watch a performance by the Community High School Dance Company. Marly Spieser Schneider, a U-M dance alumna, choreographs the work.

Along the walk to the next site, dancers explored the environment, and communal histories. Adesola Akinleye choreographed the piece.

Site Three: Fifteen dancers performed at Downtown home and Garden on Liberty and Ashley streets. The piece was created by guest artist Monica Bill Barnes.

Site Four: Final venue was the corner of First Street and West Liberty where U-M choreographer Robin Wilson explored the possibilities of transforming the sites into a greenway. The dance featured six dancers performing on the city’s sidewalks.

Ann Arbor Dance Works partnered with Allen Creek floodplain, WSG Gallery, Community High School and Downtown Home and Garden. The shared goal is to create a greenway system of parks and pathways along the Allen Creek floodplain that connects downtown to outlying neighborhoods via bike paths, walkways, and gardens.


PHOTOS: Lauren Morris of Ann Arbor Dance Works.

Photos by Beth Wielinski