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Kinesthetically cool

As a professional dancer/choreographer, Peter Sparling has made over 130 works for stages all over the world. His recent focus is creating dance works for video.

During his decade-long foray into screendance, he has rendered a newly embodied kinesthetic power, depth and movement poetics for the flat screen. Sparling is U-M Thurnau Professor of Dance.

A screening of a selection of Peter Sparling’s choreography made specifically for video was held Nov. 2 at the  Video Studio, Digital Media Commons, Duderstadt Center, 2281 Bonisteel Blvd. U-M North Campus

The challenge, according to Sparling, has been to discover and make artistic sense of those effects that could never be generated in live performance.

The screening draws from a range of works, including a newly edited series created during a recent residency in Paris, and a sneak preview of Water Alchemy, a montage made for four screens of Ernestine Ruben’s surrealistic photographs of the male nude figure taken underwater, to be projected on four walls of art galleries in Philadelphia and France.

Sparling will also preview Inner Landscapes, a video commissioned by the Martha Graham Dance Company to be screened for its 2012 season at the Joyce Theater in NYC that contextualizes Graham’s work created in the 1940’s with the popularization of psychoanalysis during that decade on film and in the media.

Recently screened at festivals in New York and Lisbon, Sparling’s “Devant & Derrière” reveals different facings of the male figure to the camera’s gaze and combine video self-portraiture with a touch of vaudeville and Eadweard Muybridge’s motion studies. “Variations and Apotheosis,” from Sparling’s made-for-television Climbing Sainte-Victoire, features a commissioned score by local composer/performer and recent Kresge Artist Fellowship winner Frank Pahl.