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Highlights: Dance Ensemble Poses Questions in Performance

  • Barbara Hall rehearses with Ensemble Marie during a semi-improvisational dance theater piece titled "Inanimate Objects, Do You Have a Soul?" on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at the Black Center for the Visual Arts in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Eric Gordon rehearses with Ensemble Marie during a semi-improvisational dance theater piece titled "Inanimate Objects, Do You Have a Soul?" on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at the Black Center for the Visual Arts in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ensemble Marie director Marie Fourcaut directs a rehearsal of a semi-improvisational dance theater piece titled "Inanimate Objects, Do You Have a Soul?" on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at the Black Center for the Visual Arts in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ensemble Marie rehearses a semi-improvisational dance theater piece titled "Inanimate Objects, Do You Have a Soul?" on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at the Black Center for the Visual Arts in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • ReBelle plays reggae at the weekly Feast and Field Market in Barnard this evening.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, June 15, 2017

For the borderline hoarders and yard-sale junkies among us, the question sounds rhetorical: “Inanimate Objects: Do You Have a Soul?”

On Sunday afternoon at Dartmouth College’s Black Family Visual Arts Center in Hanover, choreographer Marie Fourcaut and Ensemble Marie, the eight women and two men in her improvisational dance class, will raise and act out possible answers to the question, which Frenchman Alphonse de Lamartine asked in one of his poems in the 1800s.

“Posing questions is what I do in the improvisational class,” Fourcaut, a 64-year-old Hanover resident who teaches yoga as well as the improv class in Dartmouth’s Fitness and Lifestyle Improvement Program (FLIP), said between rehearsals on Tuesday. “I ask everyone to dig into their own experience, to generate their own movement. … We have learned to really listen and work with each other, to pay attention to the space around us and to each other, being in the moment.”

Fourcaut has been exploring the line between art and dance since her family fled her native Algeria during its revolution against French colonial rule. She began dancing professionally at 16, not long after seeing the American Dance Company perform in France.

After moving to the United States in the early 1980s, she wound up dancing and learning about choreography with Pilobolus, the modern dance company that formed at Dartmouth in the early 1970s and later with Pilobolus alumna Martha Clarke’s troupe. In 1986, Clarke struck a nerve, both with theater critics and with Fourcaut, with “Vienna: Lusthaus,” a work that blended dance with words, light and music by contemporary composer Richard Peaslee, in an exploration of cultural and political upheaval in Austria’s capital at the turn of the 20th century.

“We worked on it for a year,” Fourcaut recalled. “Martha inspired me a lot, and it stayed with me.”

Those inspirations kept percolating for Fourcaut after she moved to Hanover in 2005. After working for two seasons with the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble, she said, “I wanted to continue to explore new ways of moving, and turned to the FLIP program. They gave me carte blanche. All I needed was an empty space with no mirrors. I started with yoga and dance, and eventually it became more clear to me that I was starting more of an improvisational dance class.”

While participation in that class, which she started in 2009, evolved from college students more toward adults in the community, Fourcaut incorporated many of the principles of her yoga practice.

“I had to let go of some of the early discipline I learned in ballet about putting your foot in just the right position,” she said. “People who come to my class learn to let go of their fear of having to do something in a certain prescribed way, to learn how to trust and use the language of the body, to learn to be still and present in the moment. In yoga, you work from the inside out. I ask them to close their eyes and go inside, a place where they can tell their story through the language of the body.”

Seeing dance-class student Carla Kimball’s installation of photographs at Woodstock’s King Farm, one of the venues for the annual SculptureFest exhibition, inspired Fourcaut to create and start performing “Inanimate Objects.” She and her students applied many of the principles the class was already using in a show at the Hall Art Foundation in Reading, Vt., responding to the works of visual artists Olafur Eliasson and George Baselitz. While that performance used three barns on the property, Sunday’s show will use the three-story atrium of Dartmouth’s visual arts center.

“A student of mine, a Dartmouth senior, had put together a dance there, and I was so inspired by that space,” Fourcaut recalled. “I went, ‘Wow: I’d love to do something there someday.’ ”

After White River Junction filmmaker Alek Deva shot footage of Fourcaut’s ensemble dancing among the sculptures at the King Farm last fall, the group began building the performance around a variety of objects, including a chair from Kimball’s photo installation.

And they’ll keep asking each other questions right up to showtime, improvising around the general structure of Fourcaut’s choreography.

“We learn to perform for each other and give each other feedback,” Fourcaut said. “That helps us grow as a group.”

Ensemble Marie performs “Inanimate Objects: Do You Have a Soul?” on Sunday afternoon at 2, in the atrium of Dartmouth College’s Black Family Visual Arts Center in Hanover. Admission is free. Fourcaut and the dancers will discuss the work after the performance. For a preview, visit youtube.com and type Ensemble Marie Presents: Inanimate Objects, Do You Have a Soul? into the search engine.

Best Bets

Interplay Jazz & Arts hosts a jam session tonight at 7 at the Norman Williams Public Library in Woodstock. Instrumentalists, singers, photographers and other visual artists are welcome to participate, and admission for spectators is free. To sign up to perform, visit interplayjazzandarts.org.

The Parish Players lower the curtain on their production of Steel Magnolias this weekend with performances tonight, Friday night and Saturday night at 7:30 and on Sunday afternoon at 3. To reserve tickets ($12 to $15) and learn more, visit parishplayers.org. Proceeds from Sunday’s performance will benefit the family of Fairlee resident Sierra O’Leary, who was paralyzed in a skiing accident last winter, and there will be collections for the family during the shows tonight, Friday and Saturday.

Great Big Sea co-founder Sean McCann performs folk songs of Newfoundland and Labrador on Friday night at 7:30 at ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret. For tickets ($20) and more information, visit artistreevt.org

As part of its Bridgewater Summer Kick-off Festival, the Woolen Mill Comedy Club hosts two sets of stand-up artists this weekend. On Friday night at 8, Pittsburgh-based comics Alex Stypula and Tim Ross bring their Short Stacks Tour to the Mill building in downtown Bridgewater. And on Sunday night at 8, rising stars Ryan Donahue, whose recent TV appearances include Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Jeff Scheen stop by on their Strange Behaviors Tour. Doors open at 7:30 for both shows.

The festival also includes a performance at Friday night at 6 by the Fry by Night roots duo of Emile Giroux and Greg Goedewaagen, at the Weeping Willow ice-cream shop on the Ottauquechee River.

New England comedian Bob Marley delivers a stand-up performance at Alumni Hall in Haverhill on Saturday night starting at 7. For tickets ($25) and more information, visit tickets.catamountarts.org.

Pianist Will Ogmundson plays Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, marches of John Philip Sousa and works of Aaron Copland and other composers during a concert on the theme of “American Illuminations” on Saturday night at 7:30, at the First Congregational Church of Lebanon. Admission is $20, with part of the proceeds going to the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth.

Director Hal Sheeler and pianist Henry Danaher lead an “Upper Valley Open Sing” of Schubert’s Mass in G and of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music on Sunday afternoon at 3 at the First Congregational Church of Lebanon. Community soloists include baritone Mark Boutwell, soprano Chiho Kaneko, tenor Brian Clancy and alto Laurel Stavis. While admission is free, donations are welcome. Community members interested in lending their voices to the recital should contact Sheeler at 603-398-2151 or hsheeler@gmail.com.

Haywire and Sensible Shoes perform on Sunday at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds following the bicycle ride benefiting the Alliance for Vermont Communities. The post-ride party begins at 1 p.m. To learn more, visit therangervt.com.

The Mascoma Film Society screens The Illusionist at the Mascoma Valley Regional High School auditorium in West Canaan on Wednesday night at 6:30. Admission is free. To learn more about the society’s summer film series, visit mascomafilmsociety.org.

Trio Americano, cellist Eugene Friesen, singer-songwriter Yaniel Matos and percussionist Cafe Edson da Silva, ranges across the music of the Western Hemisphere at Woodstock’s North Universalist Chapel on Tuesday night at 7:30. Tickets cost $15 at the door.

Looking Ahead

Ricky Skaggs headlines the 17th annual Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival, which runs from next Thursday morning through June 25 at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds. For single- and multiple-day tickets and more information, visit jennybrookbluegrass.com or email candi@jennybrookbluegrass.com.

Asbury Shorts, the New Jersey-based touring exhibition of award-winning short films, will present three movies at Kimball Union Academy’s Flickinger Arts Center in Meriden next Thursday night at 7:30. Proceeds from sale of general-admission tickets ($15) support Meriden’s Aidron Duckworth Museum. To reserve seats, email info@aidanduckworthmuseum.org or call 802-469-3444.

In a concert benefiting the Rusty Berrings Skate Park in West Lebanon, Michael Franti & Spearhead will rock the Lebanon Opera House next Thursday night at 7:30. For tickets ($59.50 to $75) and more information, visit lebanonoperahouse.org or call 603-448-0400.

Bassist Peter Concilio, drummer Tim Gilmore and an assortment of guest performers will play the jazz compositions of pianist Sonny Saul at Saul’s Pleasant Street Books in Woodstock next Thursday night at 8. While admission is free, donations are welcome.

Theater/Performance Art

Mateen Stewart headlines a session of comedy at the Engine Room in White River Junction on Wednesday night at 8. The lineup of comedians also includes Regi Brittain, Kevin McTaggart and Pierre Vachon. Admission costs $5 to $12. To reserve tickets and learn more, call 802-281-6080.

Music

ReBelle plays reggae rhythms during the weekly Feast and Field Market tonight starting at 5:30 at the former Clark Farm in Barnard. Admission is free.

The Norwich-based Brian Cook Band plays rock, pop, soul, R&B, country and folk favorites as well as its own compositions during the first monthly concert of the summer on the Norwich Green on Friday night at 6.

The Bradford Conservation Commission hosts a Music on the Mountain concert at the Wright’s Mountain Lookout on Saturday afternoon, with performances at 4 by Miranda Moody Miller, at 5 by Thomas Chapin and Friends and by Derek Burkins at 6.

Sensible Shoes serenades the Summer Solstice Shindig at the SILO Distillery in Windsor on Wednesday afternoon from 4 to 7.

Bar and Club Circuit

The Bradford-based folk-rock duo Don and Jenn plays the tavern of the Lyme Inn tonight at 6.

Singer-songwriter Jim Hollis plays at Taverne on the Square in Claremont tonight at 7. On Friday night at 8, Claremont-native singer-songwriter Evelyn Cormier brings her band to the venue, and singer-songwriter Ben Fuller performs on Wednesday night at 6.

Off the Rails pulls into Windsor Station for a set of roots, rock and country tonight at 7:30. Following the trio to the venue over the coming week are at the rock ensemble Justin Panigutti & The Outfit at 9:30 on Friday night, Maiden Voyage at 10 on Saturday night and singer-songwriter Ben Fuller on Tuesday night at 6.

Singer-songwriter Jim Hollis performs in the tavern at Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday evening at 5.

Singer-songwriter Chris Powers kicks off the weekend of music at Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Friday night at 8. And on Saturday night at 9, The Blues Brothers Revue steps to the microphone.

Hammond organ maestro Tom Caselli leads his B3 Brotherhood into the Salt hill Pub in downtown Lebanon for a set of funk on Friday night at 9, followed on Saturday night at 9 by The Wilderness with an eclectic mix of genres.

Singer-songwriter Ben Fuller plays country at the Salt hill Pub in West Lebanon on Friday night at 9.

Tirade rocks the Salt hill Pub in Newport on Friday night at 9, and singer-songwriter Chris Powers performs on Saturday night at 6.

Frydaddy sets the rockin’ rhythm for dancing on Friday night at 9 at the Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

Chas Eller, former keyboardist for the Paul Butterfield Band, plays with the Sensible Shoes duo of Barbara Blaisdell and Tim Utt on Saturday night at 6 at the Canoe Club in Hanover.

Bow Thayer plays his weekly session of Americana on Wednesday night at 7:30.

Open Mics

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 on Thursday nights. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10.

Joe Stallsmith leads a weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass at Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Monday nights at 6.

Bradford’s Colatina Exit holds an open mic, Tuesday nights at 8.

Jim Yeager hosts open mics at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern at 8:30 on Wednesday night, and next Thursday night at the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret tonight at 7.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304.