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January 11, 2004

UMBC presents the Troika Ranch Dance Company

Troika Ranch ©2003 Richard TermineUMBC’s InterArts series and the Department of Dance present the Troika Ranch dance company on February 3 and 4, 2003, at 8 p.m. in the UMBC Theatre.

Renowned for their densely textured choreography, original musical scores and groundbreaking use of interactive digital media and technology, the New York City-based dance theater company Troika Ranch continues to redefine experimental dance theatre. Their program will feature two works: 2001’s Reine Rien and a work-in-progress showing of their newest evening length piece, Surfaces, which is slated to premiere in New York City in May, 2004.

Dubbed “interactive performance pioneers” by The New York Times and “multimedia mavericks” by the Village Voice, Troika Ranch uses custom software and interactive sensory devices to allow their dancers’ movements to directly create music and manipulate video imagery as they perform. The company’s previous work, Future of Memory, which played to sold out houses in New York in February 2003, was awarded the first ever Dance Audience Award at the 2003 “Bessie” (a.k.a. Downtown Dance and Performance) Awards.

In Surfaces, the company will use onstage cameras and a sophisticated form of “video feedback” to allow the real dancers to perform with their video counterparts. As dancers enter and leave the stage, video “echoes”—delayed by moments or minutes—appear and disappear, creating a swirling fugue between the real and the virtual. In addition, software that analyzes movement in the video frame allows the performers to become “media conductors.” Much as the gestures of an orchestra conductor dictate how the music will be played, the dancers’ movement will control the timing, dynamics, and effects applied to the video and sound. The standard relationship, where dancers perform to music, is inverted—now, the media perform to the dancers.

Troika Ranch ©2003 Richard TermineConceptually, Surfaces begins with the notion that a surface is a point of contact and conflict. Whether the surface of a body, a surface that delineates space, or one that separates one’s public and private parts, the surface ensures that one is either on the inside or the outside. Who we are (and who we become) when we struggle to break through the surface is the idea that drives this work.

In Reine Rien, the dancers also directly control their musical and visual accompaniment. Wireless sensors in the performers’ costumes measure the flexion of their joints, transmitting that information to an offstage computer. The performers thus determine the timing, dynamics and looping of sampled sound, and the speed, color content and warping of video imagery. The Village Voice described Reine Rien by saying, “Troika Ranch have created an oxymoron: warm, glowy conceptual art. The movement of the dancers, who are wired to a computer, releases…a beautiful idea—that whole cities of sound are immanent in the air, and human motion makes them visible.”

About Troika Ranch and the Artistic Directors
Pushing the integration of dance and media to new heights, artistic directors Mark Coniglio (music and interactive media) and Dawn Stoppiello (choreography) founded Troika Ranch in 1994 with the mission to create digital-dance-theater in which the media elements share the same spontaneity as the human performers on stage. Based in New York City, Troika Ranch is a leader in interactive performance. The two words that comprise the company name are indicative of its focus. Troika, Russian for three, represents dance, theater and digital media, the three core elements found in the company’s artwork. Ranch symbolizes the collaboration among its members. Coniglio and Stoppiello encourage all in the company to share ideas, techniques and processes to ensure the most abundant aesthetic harvest. The over-arching goal of this collaboration is to fully integrate the three core elements into what Richard Wagner called the gesamtkunstwerk—the total artwork.

Troika Ranch ©2003 Richard TermineMark Coniglio focuses predominately on interweaving music and media into performance. As a composer, he uses dense rhythmic constructions and sampled sound to invent the unusual percussive instruments that are hallmarks of his compositions. Keyboard Magazine perhaps best described his style: “Coniglio’s music consistently expresses a deep, sustained heaviness and ferocity. Powered by big drum sounds, surging phrases and throbbing rhythms, it attacks the listener with stealth and force.” As an inventor, he creates custom instruments and software specifically for use in performance, to which Tannsi (Finnish dance magazine) exclaimed, “there are magical moments when the organic and the electronic components of the performance exist in perfect harmony.” In addition to his work with Troika Ranch, Coniglio also acts as a consultant for other dance companies. He recently served as technical advisor for a video-intensive work created by Judith Jamison for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Coniglio is one of nine artists selected to receive support during the 2003 inaugural year of a twelve-month dance and technology fellowship at Dance Theater Workshop.

Dawn Stoppiello is a choreographer, dancer and media artist. Her choreography reflects her keen interest in visual rhythm, kinetic complexity and nonlinear motion. An examination of the changing state of the human body as it responds to the increasingly technological world that surrounds it is a recurring and underlying theme in her work. Recognized as a creative leader in the field of dance and technology, she was an invited panelist for the Beyond the Divide Symposium as part of Australia’s Adelaide Festival 2002; has taught master classes at numerous universities around the country; has lectured on interactive performance in France, Monaco, Holland, England, Canada and the U.S.; and her article “FleshMotor” was recently included in the book Women in New Media, published by MIT Press/ Leonardo Art Journal.

General admission: $15.00
Students and seniors: $7.00
Box Office: 410-455-6240

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

UMBC Arts website:
UMBC News Releases:
UMBC Department of Dance website:
Troika Ranch website:

Images for Media
High resolution images (those shown here and others) are available online:
or by email or postal mail.
Photos #1 and #2 in this press release are ©2003 Richard Termine. Photos #3 and #4 are by Piro Patton.

From Baltimore and points north, proceed south on I-95 to exit 47B. Take Route 166 toward Catonsville and then follow signs to the Fine Arts Building.
From I-695, take Exit 12C (Wilkens Avenue) and continue one-half mile to the entrance of UMBC at the roundabout intersection of Wilkens Avenue and Hilltop Road. Turn left and 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.
Theatre Parking is available in The Commons Garage.

Online campus map:

Troika Ranch ©2003 Richard Termine


Posted by dwinds1 at January 11, 2004 12:00 AM