Middlebury professor, dancer to perform Oct. 4

MIDDLEBURY — As part of the campus-wide Celebration of 50 Years of Environmental Education and Leadership at Middlebury, dancer and professor Andrea Olsen will perform her newest work, “Dancing in Wild Places: Seaweed and Ocean Health” on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 2 p.m. in the Dance Theatre of the Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts. The work represents the final major performance of Olsen’s 33-year career at Middlebury College, before she moves on to a three-year appointment at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
Based on research conducted in seven international seaweed sites, “Dancing in Wild Places: Seaweed and Ocean Health” is a 40-minute dance work with an introduction and comments by noted environmentalist, educator and writer John Elder, as well as staging assistance by artist Peter Schmitz. Combining scientific information with creative storytelling and evocative movement, Olsen opens our awareness to the vast underwater gardens that are visible in the intertidal zone and appear along the wrack-line on beaches.
Beginning in Monterey, Calif., the performance will carry its performers and audience to Brittany, France; Connemara, Ireland; Skagaströnd, Iceland; Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; Briny Breezes, Fla.; and the Florida Keys. Over the journey, the performance will layer the knowledge base about the underwater flora that supports numerous life forms and helps stabilize ocean temperatures, along with the intercultural heritage that links seaweed to such far-ranging products as iodine, gunpowder and cosmetics. Each of the dance work’s seven sections will create a web of information, story and movement inviting our imaginative participation in the deep heritage of algae, the oldest life form on the planet and an essential focus of ecosystem sustainability.
This work was inspired by Olsen’s 2014 collaboration with San Francisco-based visual artist Josie Iselin. Conversations and images from Iselin’s book An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed inform the project.
The Mahaney Center is located on the campus of Middlebury College, at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30 south/South Main Street. Free parking is available curbside on Route 30 or in the Center for the Arts parking lot, in rows marked faculty/staff/visitors. Admission is free. For more information, call (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or go to www.middlebury.edu/arts.

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