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UMS Night School: Bodies in Motion – Session 3 Recap

By Sarah Squillante

Editor’s note: This post is a part of a series of by U-M student Sarah Squillante, who’s covering our free UMS Night School: Bodies in Motion series. Learn along side with them.

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UMS Night School attendees danced to a new beat this week – literally. Midway through the session, attendees were asked to get up on their feet, learn a basic Capoeira step, and then free-style in a large circle to funk music. The movement exercise, led by U-M Dance MFA Candidate Marcus Whiten, gave attendees a kinesthetic taste of a distinct style – a mix of hip hop, martial arts, and acrobatics – that Compagnie Käfig will bring to Ann Arbor this weekend, February 14 and 15.

This week also marked the beginning of a new format in which attendees have the opportunity to discuss a recent dance performance. This week’s discussion centered around “Moving Pictures,” a concert featuring 4 works performed by the U-M department of Dance. In a short panel discussion, three dancers spoke first of the larger ideas that they were asked to conceptualize during the beginning stages of the pieces, then progressed to more specific elements of the performance, like costuming and live music. The dancers expressed delight in the challenges that the pieces provided and in the connections that they were able to make with the audience.

The attendees comprised a diverse a group as usual, ranging from experienced dancers to those who had never seen a performance before. The class has grown significantly since the first week. Some have become Night School “regulars,” while others ventured out into the cold for the first time.

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In the left photo, newcomer Razi Jafri said he came because he “didn’t really know anything about dance – artistically or technically,” so he figured it’d be a good introduction.

On the right, Lucie Cohen and Deb Taylor came to Night School thinking they’d be seeing a dance performance, but were pleasantly surprised by the discussion format. “I really enjoyed getting involved when we started moving. The proximity of our bodies made me feel like I knew people on a personal level,” Lucia said.


Leslie Woldenberg, a dance lover and frequent UMS patron, drove all the way from Toledo with a friend to experience Night School for the first time.

The session finished with a short talk from Reighan Gillam, Postdoctoral research fellow in the U-M Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, who spoke about the origins of hip-hop music and dance in Brazil. Gillam emphasized the fact that rappers come from the periphery of Brazil and that, much like hip hop in the United States, the content typically revolves around the violence and system inequality characteristic of marginalized groups.

The details – and the questions they inspired – were intended to help attendees frame their viewing of Compagnie Käfig. Night School host Clare Croft suggested that attendees use information from the lecture to consider how the atmosphere in Brazil may impact the movement they see on stage.

The fourth session of Night School will include an exploration of how actors think about movement, with a preparation for Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord’s The Suit, and also a discussion of Compagnie Käfig’s Correria Agwa. Special guests will include: Naomi Andre, U-M Associate Professor of Women’s Studies, Rob Najarian, U-M Assistant Professor of Theatre, and Michael Kondziolka, UMS Director of Programming. It will be held at the U-M Alumni Center at 200 Fletcher Street at 7 PM.

Session 3 Resources & Readings

Interested in even more dance engagement? Pick up an adventure card to learn all about the dance activities we’re offering this year and for a chance to win a backstage meet and greet.

For a complete list of 2013-2014 dance performances, visit ums.org. Share questions, comments, or suggestions in the comments below.