Dance instructor uses recital for social justice

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

Through the exploration of communities’ reactions during crisis, University dance assistant professor Endalyn Taylor will delve into the issue of social justice in her upcoming show, February Dance.

February Dance 2018 will provide a delightful palette of unusual possibilities in a world in which physics and even facts have become alternative realities, according to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts website.

Taylor said her work is in response to a series of events last year, including the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

“I was struck by the strength of the human spirit and how during times of crisis, we often see the best of people,” Taylor said in an email. “I am moved and inspired by the unlikely heroes who rise up and take a stand.”

She said the title of her piece, “In the Fullness Thereof,” and further inspiration came from a quote by Winston Churchill, which speaks to the need for the youth of his time to be kind but fierce; they are the ones who will affect change.

February Dance is made up of five different dances by different choreographers.

Jan Erkert, dance department head, said that as a woman of color, Taylor uses multiple different cultural references, such as the Dance Theater of Harlem, which brings more ballet roles to people of color.

Her work hopes to bring interest in dance, particularly ballet, to many different communities and people, Erkert said.

“Much of the work is done with the dancers moving as a tight unit, close to one another and representing a community moving in and through crisis,” Taylor said. “I enjoyed the collaborative aspect of working with the students in a way that gave them agency to choreograph and create individual moments of expression for themselves.”

Erkert said many dance artists often respond to their times because dances are being made “in the now,” which will be shown in Taylor’s piece.

“Endalyn’s piece is more constructed around abstraction of sensations, energies that come out of communities when they have to respond to moments of great tragedy,” Erkert said. “I think she saw around the issues or other events that have been very traumatic but, at the same time, brought the community together.”

Often seeing the arts as great vehicles for people to see, Ekert said dance is just a different way of looking at political or social issues.

February Dance runs from Thursday to Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m.

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