(WEST WINDSOR, NJ) -- A hint of spring is in the air and the Academic Theatre and Dance Company and Mercer Dance Ensemble are in full creative outdoors mode as the groups prepare for their upcoming production: “2 Events 3 Days – an Immersive Outdoor Art, Video and Dance Experience” on the grounds surrounding Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre on May 7, 8 and 9.
“‘2 Events 3 Days’ combines the efforts of MCCC students, instructors, alumni, community members, the world-renowned artist Tamara Torres and Moving Productions – an interdisciplinary performance company – into two immersive experiences,” said MCCC Academic Theatre and Dance Company Coordinator Jody Gazenbeek-Person.
“The Academic Theatre and Dance Company and Entertainment Tech Company have also joined forces with Mercer Dance Ensemble to present new and exciting forms of dance and video art that reflect present-day culture,” he said.
On Saturday, May 7 at 2:00pm and Sunday, May 8 at 2:00pm. the Mercer Dance Ensemble will sway emotions and weave spells with several new dances. Some of the highlights include: “Torres’ Shadows” under the choreographic direction of Jody P. Gazenbeek-Person where dance and theatre students will bring the canvases of Trenton’s own international artist, Tamara Torres, to life.
Under the direction of MCCC dance instructor and choreographer Jill Molinaro, students will perform “Fireflies” — an abstract piece that explores sharing the light in a time of darkness.
Shelley Gail Weiss Lightman, Mercer County community resident and choreographer, will present a whimsical performance called “Out of the Box aka Etudes and Such,” to the music of Hector Villa Lobos (Etude #4) accompanied by Sarah Lightman and Empty Shell Performers.
One of the highlights of the performance will be the introduction of the form of modern dance known as Butoh.
“The dance program recently introduced Butoh into its curriculum,” said Gazenbeek-Person. “Butoh is a form of modern dance coming out of Japan. Since 1959 when it was first established, Butoh has gone from Japan out into the international dance scene. It is now a part of every dance season in every major city across the world; all kinds of people are dancing and learning Butoh,” he said.
Dance students in the program have created and will present several Butoh solos that will be shown over the course of this event. To learn more about this captivating form of dance, Gazenbeek-Person highly recommends watching the documentary “Butoh: Body on the Edge of Crisis” on youtube.com.
“The documentary is definitely for mature audiences, but our two events are for all people of all ages,” explained Gazenbeek-Person.
He continued, “It’s important that our MCCC students be trained on what is cutting edge, so that they are well-prepared for what is occurring in the entertainment industry. It’s why we are also looking for an instructor with an MFA in Dance that can help us build a hip-hop component to our dance program. And, it is why our students work with successful artists outside the college. The MCCC Theatre, Dance and Entertainment Tech programs are preparing students for a successful future.”
On Monday May 9 at 8:30pm, MCCC Entertainment Technology students will present the third day of this event titled “Outdoor Movie Night,” which is free to the public. Working with professional artists from Moving Productions – an interdisciplinary performance company – students created a sound score to go along with the silent films this new company shot over the course of the pandemic.
As described by Gazenbeek-Person, Moving Productions invented a new form of street art known as VideoBombs. VideoBombs are short silent videos that address a current cultural concern. The idea behind this street art is to explode the mind of the audience and to challenge viewers to think about an issue from a new perspective.
“Collaborating with professional artists is key to deepening each student’s learning experience and therefore the art form and craft. At the same time, the mosaic graffiti Video Bombs will be an amazing and unique experience for the audience. It is a one-time-only event that should not be missed,” he said.
Events will take place outdoors adjacent to Kelsey Theatre and may require some very limited walking. Please bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on for the full experience. (In the event of rain, performances will take place inside the theater.)
Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for children, students and senior citizens. Tickets are available for purchase online or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at 609-570-3333.
Kelsey Box Office hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:00am – noon and Fridays from 5:00pm to 7:00pm for phone and in-person purchases, and one hour before show time for in-person purchases only. Masks are recommended but not required.
More information about MCCC's Theatre/Dance program is available here.
Kelsey Theatre is located on the MCCC campus at 1200 Old Trenton Road in West Windsor Township. The theater is wheelchair accessible and free parking is available next to the building. Assisted listening devices are available upon request.
PHOTO: Lisbeth Burgos (front) and Hakim Hachicha rehearsing for “2 Events 3 Days – an Immersive Outdoor Art, Video and Dance Experience” - Photo credit: Kyle Bethea