UVA Dance Program Rediscovers Chopin
Last fall, the UVA Dance program welcomed acclaimed guest choreographer Katharine Birdsall for a unique piece that allowed dancers to react to and interpret Frederic Chopin’s legendary Preludes. Incorporating Chopin’s Preludes No. 1 through 8 for piano, Op. 28, the piece allowed music and movement to share the stage equally. Blending musicality, dance improvisation, partnering, and choreography gave the student dancers an opportunity to discover new levels of sensitivity to the music, to themselves and to each other.
Birdsall holds a BFA in Dance from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, and has been teaching and choreographing in Charlottesville for nearly 25 years. In addition to traveling extensively as a guest artist, she is also a founding member of The Zen Monkey Project. “Working with Katharine morphed how I view and encounter movement,” said third-year Hannah Woodruff, a Systems Engineering Major and Dance Minor (Engineering ‘17). “Her choreographic style and movement vocabulary encourages a whole-bodied effort to fully release through movement phrases, attending less to making shapes and more to experiencing movement as impulse, rhythm, and energy. One of the most memorable parts of working with Katharine that I will carry with me always is her philosophy about the relationship between audience and dancer, how the dancer’s job is to engage, absorb, and reflect the audience as they are, through both seeing and inviting to be seen.”