“A Landscape is a series of figures moving through time and space.” Marlene Rye
“Motion” is an exciting and innovative project between abstract landscape painter Marlene Rye and choreographer/dancer Beth Znosko of Clark Dance Theatre and local dancer Margaret Bowrys. In “Motion”, the line between the visual and performing arts melts away as dance and live painting converse and interweave in a dynamic interplay of creative expression. Here freshly applied paint and moving bodies speak to one another as painter and dancers share in the creative process in real time, inspiring and accenting as they lift each other to new vistas.
The seed for “Motion” came about because Rye, an abstract landscape painter, sees the landscape as a series of figures moving through time and space. Trees, vines and under story react to each other and the ground in an organic and anthropomorphic fashion. As quoted in the Look Book a publication of One Artist Road in Santa Fe, “Rye paints nature through the eyes of a child, capturing the magical and revealing that secret space where trees are dancers, circus performers, magicians, and all things fantastical.”
And so, Rye invited the Clark Dance Theatre of New Haven Connecticut, to her studio to interpret her work through movement. What evolved was so much more! Once the dancers were in her studio, the artists decided to work in a much more collaborative way. The dancers do make movement in reaction to the work on the wall, but they also make movement to inspire paintings while they are there. There is a deep connection between the dancers and painter, as they choreograph both painting and dance together!
The first debut of “Motion” was at the Oxbow Gallery in Northampton Massachusetts in July of 2013. The opening, which was widely attended, showed the process to the public of how Rye makes her landscape paintings using dancers as inspiration of mark and shape in her work. The viewers got to see “Motion” in action, and the consensus was that the connection was very clear and exciting! Not only did Rye paint at the opening to moving dancers, the dancers also made a painting using their movement to make marks, and Rye performed as a part of a duet. In this way, “Motion” bridged the divide between dance and painting as the audience could see that to the collaborators, there isn’t such a gap after all.
Moving forward, the artists seek to bring these two art forms even closer together. In October of 2013, Rye built a special easel that holds a piece of plexiglass that can be moved in the center of the dancers. In doing so, the dancers can see how their movement inspires the painting while they are moving. They can move around the work in progress and make movement spontaneously to what is being formed before their eyes and bodies. Rye can also work on both sides of the plexglass, which is a totally new way of working for her! She can change her perspective in relation to the dancers, and look and work on the image in reverse, something she would normally have to pull a print to do. At all times she can see through the plexiglass to the dancers and almost “trace” their movements in paint to make her marks.
The collaborators plan to take “Motion” to both traditional and non traditional gallery and dance spaces. By using plexiglass as the painting surface, “Motion” will look amazing on stage, as it will allow the painting to become a physical part of the dance. The plan is to have a large piece of plexiglass on wheels that can be moved through the dancers, and the audience will really get to see the color and mark making become part of the dance.
The artists of “Motion” are looking for funds to hire a videographer so they can properly document what they are doing. With this video, they plan on applying to perform “Motion” in museums, schools, theaters, etc… The next performance of “Motion” will be at the Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, MA, where the plan would be to involve the students as well, in both painting and dancing.
Marlene Rye is a resident of Florence MA, has an A.B. from Smith College and an M.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She has studied under Andrew Forge, Barbara Grossman, John Moore, and Martha Armstrong. Her work has been shown nationally and has been accepted into juried shows with distinguished curators from the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Guggenheim. Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia and Jacqui Becker in Boston currently represent her work. Rye has lived in the Valley for 12 years, and for all that time has worked out of her studio in the Paragon Arts and Industry building in Easthampton, MA.
Beth Znosko is the current rehearsal director of Clark Dance Theatre. Znosko has performed throughout Connecticut, New York City, Boston and Rhode Island. The schools at which she has trained at include Christian Academy of Dance, New Haven Ballet, Dance New Amsterdam, Caldwell Dance Center, and The Martha Graham School. She continues to study dance under Caroline Lucy Smith and Shari Caldwell. Znosko holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in studio art from Southern Connecticut State University. She is currently on faculty at Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County teaching modern, ballet, improvisation, and composition.
As a choreographer in "Motion", Znosko finds movements that are organic in nature. She encourages dancers to connect with Rye's work and reminds them that their movements don't have to be pretty. Znosko also chooses music for "Motion" based on the mood of the landscape that she is trying to portray. For a light flowing landscape Znosko may choose to dance to Mozart. Znosko also discusses with Rye movement qualities. Both Rye and Znosko are interested in the juxtaposition of fragile and bold movements as found in nature. In order to further demonstrate this idea in dance Znosko searches for music that has complexities woven into it. Often she finds these complexities in contemporary cello music. The cello in itself is an earthy instrument that helps transport dancers into a landscape.
About Clark Dance Theatre
Clark Dance Theatre was founded in 2006, has self produced three evening length concerts in 2006- 2008. Clark Dance Theatre has performed at: the International Arts and Ideas Festival, The Outlet Dance Project (NJ), Built On Stilts (Martha’s Vineyard), Dance New Amsterdam, Julia Richman Educational Center and Green Space (NYC), 5×5 Dance Festivals, CT Meets NY, The Schubert Theater, New Haven. Judie Clark was the proud host and founder of Rebound, An Independent Dance Festival (2006-2011) for emerging choreographers and filmmakers. Other performing credits include, Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford CT, Dance Complex in Boston, WAXworks, and Triskelion Arts Theater in Brooklyn, NY.
Margaret Bowrys is a teacher of dance with a special fondness for Children's Expressive Movement and Creative Yoga. She is a Hampshire College alumna where she studied within the Five College Consortium concentrating in both western and non-western dance forms with a special interest in Ceremonial and Ritual Dance. She dove into Authentic Movement, an expressive, improvisational form of moving meditation, participating in groups for more than a decade. She was influenced by her intensive studies in Authentic Movement to train further in Temple Dance, Liturgical and Praise Dance, Martial Art/Dance, Participative Dance Improvisation, and Somatic studies.
Bowrys returned to academic investigation to interview Hampshire College alumnae and Pioneer Valley professionals who use movement in their healing work with children. She began her dancing as a very young child with classical and modern dance styles and knew she had found a sacred relationship with her body through dance, one she would keep all her life. She considers herself a life student of the dancing art of body/mind/spirit connection and has retained a deep respect for the wisdom of the body. Bowrys joins her experience with Authentic Movement as spiritual practice with her trainings in Mindfulness meditation to inform her passions that include mindful yoga, therapeutic arts, writing poetry and as always, listening to the body as guide. Bowrys is a cancer survivor returning to the dance. She is inspired to bridge her affinity for religious or sacred expression in dance and her love for nature worship in dance. She is excited to bring her Contemporary Dance background to this creative and collaborative process of making and performing "Motion".
Explore Rye's work at: www.MarleneRye.com
Explore Clark Dance Theatre at: www.clarkdancetheatre.org/
"Journey Into Light", oil on canvas, 32" x 46", 2013. Created in collaboration with dancers in project "Motion".
"Bold Fragility", oil on canvas, 44" x 72", 2013. Created in collaboration with dancers in project "Motion".