Independent dance companies keep scene on the move

A mainstay of the independent dance scene, Hixon Dance marks its 10-year anniversary with a retrospective program Friday and Saturday, Nov. 3 and 4, at the McConnell Arts Center in Worthington.

Founder/director Sarah Hixon dug through 10 years of movement-making and selected both a representative cross-section of work and choreography that returns to particular themes and movement qualities.

“I am taking movement I had used before and seeing how I could change it and alter and manipulate it to make it seem different and totally new,” Hixon said. “It's funny now looking at [individual dance pieces] as a body and seeing movements or movement qualities that are the same, [or] occasionally some concepts that are related or similar. It's interesting for me to step back and look at them in that way.”

One recurring theme is conflict. While Hixon said the pieces don't necessarily have a linear narrative, several of the pieces build on the notion of competing interests. “Gestures from the Sawdust Root,” a work for seven dancers set to music by French composer Francis Poulenc and inspired by an Allen Ginsberg poem, is a loose social commentary on the conflict between nature and machine. A piece set to Beethoven's “Moonlight Sonata” played on toy piano devolves into a child-like, self-involved tantrum. “No Exit” comments on situations that infringe on our personal space. The piece finds four dancers sharing a 4-foot-by-4-foot raised platform, trapped with one another and afflicted by the close quarters.

“Having no conflict is kind of boring,” Hixon said. “People in their daily lives are experiencing conflict, even if it's not dramatic.”

“In live performance or art, people bring their own perspective or lens to what they see or hear,” she added. “I feel like a successful piece isn't one where audience members totally understand what I was saying, but where they get that nugget or essential element, that universal emotion or thought or some kind of experience that I want to portray through my work.”

Some music will be performed live on stage, and a new sculpture by Chicago artist Hannah Barco will also be featured.