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January 7, 2002

Cornfield Dance performs at UMBC

UMBC's Department of Dance presents Cornfield Dance, a modern dance company under the direction of choreographer Ellen Cornfield.

Cornfield Dance photo by Takashi ItoAbout Cornfield Dance
Cornfield Dance, a company of six dancers from New York City, was established in 1989 to bring the joy and excitement of dance to diverse audiences. Ms. Cornfield's choreographic style merges the abstraction of geometric structures with the richness of emotional nuance. The company's repertory encompasses a full range of kinesthetic energy from the calm centered space of Cornfield's solo .consciousness through the explosive power of the company work Primal Steps.

Cornfield Dance has received commissions from Montclair State University (2000), the 92nd Street Y New Works in Dance Fund (1999) in New York City, Fete de la Musique (1998) in New York City, the Danspace Project (1997 & 1990) in New York City, the Buskers Fare (1996) in New York City, Russell Sage College (1992-96 and 2000) in New York, and the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival (1991). The company has received funding from numerous sources, including the Asian Cultural Council, the Pentacle Help Desk, the Mary Flager Cary Charitable Trust, the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation, Meet the Composer, the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, the Harkness Foundation for Dance, the Sidney Stern Memorial Trust, and the American Express Company.

In 1997, Cornfield Dance completed a two and half week international tour to Japan, with performances and classes in Tokyo and Okayama. In the United States, the company was presented by the Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, New York City, and by the Jacob's Pillow Festival Inside/Outside series in Lee, Massachusetts. In 1998, the company performed in the outdoor festival Fete de la Musique, in front of the World Trade Center Towers, afterwards traveling to Poland to participate in the VI International Dance Festival, with performances in Krakow and Bytom. After Poland, the company performed at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Cornfield Dance was featured in March 1999 as part of the New Performance Series at Playhouse 91, produced by the 92nd Street Y. The company completed a high end digital video project of the new dance that fall, taping outdoors in New York City and environs and in a studio in Connecticut. In 2000, Ms. Cornfield performed in New York City, participated in July in the Festival in Poland, performing a duet and solo program in Bytom and Krakow, and traveled again to Japan in August to teach and perform. Ms. Cornfield and one dancer completed a residency in September in upstate New York, sponsored by the Ensemble Studio Theater of New York City. In 2001, the company performed at Long Island University, and Symphony Space, New York City. Cornfield Dance has been invited to perform in Russia at the Open Look Festival, St. Petersburg, and again in Japan.

The Program
The program includes two large works: Foreshadowed Seeing (with dancers Jeffrey Bauer and Ellen Cornfield, music by Iannis Xenakis, costumes by Karen Young, set by Aaron Booher), and Velcro Road (with the full company, music by Nathanial Drake, costumes by Karen Young, set by Cristina Ottolini).

The duet Foreshadowed Seeing tracks the emergence of a relationship between two people, using broad sweeping movement, geometric shapes, and shadows on the back wall to create a foundation on top of which the images of now and the future are projected. The dance becomes a formalized ritual within which their emotional connections can resonate. The duet premiered at the VII International Dance Festival and Conference in Bytom, Poland, in summer 2000, and was performed in Tokyo, Japan in August 2001. The dance, approximately eighteen minutes in length and costumed by Karen Young, is performed with a simple set of maroon colored grasses by artist Aaron Booher.

Ms. Cornfield's choreography is grounded in movement, and the drama inherent in its underlying rhythms and timings, regardless of a narrative or story. She is also interested in the "stories" of our lives, and the unending currents that travel between and amongst us. Velcro Road, approximately thirty minutes in length, will be an investigation of this dual territory -- pure movement and narrative line. The piece will travel from the serious to the humorous, exploring through its dance language images of physical attachment and de-attachments -- a pulling away, both emotionally and physically -- followed by subsequent new attachments, revealing a landscape of emotional color. The dance will be episodic in nature, portraying our different human interactions and relationships, and our ever changing lives. At the same time, the dance will portray the strength of our connections and commonalities, linked by our human passions, plights and ploys. The lighting will be designed by award winning Carol Mullins, with an "electronic set" projected on the back wall by computer graphic artist Cristina Ottolini. Together these two artists will illuminate the piece, framing the dancers with shifting light, color, and electronic images.

Cornfield Dance photo by Takashi ItoAbout Ellen Cornfield, director and choreographer
Ellen Cornfield has been a dance artist for over 30 years, beginning with her training at the University of California at Berkeley in Graham technique, through her years in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (1974-82), to the development of her own choreographic vision and the creation of her own company, Cornfield Dance, in 1989. She has traveled throughout Europe, the United States and Japan teaching and performing her work.

In addition to her long association with the Merce Cunningham technique, Cornfield's training includes Cecchetti ballet with Margaret Craske, resistive band training with Martha Yoshida, and breathing technique with massage therapist Joan Witkowski.

Cornfield's tradition lies in the abstract modern dance world. She is interested in movement, and the drama inherent in its underlying rhythms and timings, regardless of a narrative or story. She is also interested in the "stories" of our lives, the unending currents that travel between and amongst us. Her choreographic investigations outline the dynamics of these human interactions through dance, formalizing our energy waves, our collisions and collusions, so that we more fully recognize ourselves, and ourselves in others.

Cornfield has taught and performed in Japan, England, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Poland, as well as in the United States. She continues to teach at the Cunningham studio in New York City. Her teaching residencies in universities have included the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Harvard Summer Dance Center, SUNY Purchase, Ohio State University and the University of California at Berkeley, where her passion and pursuit of modern dance began.

Cornfield Dance photo by Takashi Ito

General admission: $15.00.
Students and seniors: $7.00.

Telephone and web
Box Office: (410) 455-6240
UMBC Artsline (24 hour recorded message): (410) 455-ARTS
Media inquiries only: (410) 455-3370

UMBC Arts website:
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Department of Dance website:

From Baltimore and points north, proceed south on I-95 to exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Theatre.

From Washington and points south, proceed north on I-95 to Exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Theatre.

Online campus map:

Cornfield Dance photo by Takashi ItoImages for Media
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Posted by dwinds1 at January 7, 2002 12:00 AM