Posted February 12, 2009

What on earth?

An exploration of the earth through dance

When Jennifer Conley looks at the earth she sees more than valleys, mountains and trees.

“Like the body, the earth is constantly in motion,” said Conley, a Ph.D. candidate in the Boyer College of Music and Dance and the creator of GeoDance Theatre, a series of pieces choreographed by Conley and inspired by nature.

“The earthquakes, the fault lines, the eruptions and the way the earth transforms at a slow pace can all be equated to the mental and physical changes in the body,” said Conley.

GeoDance Theatre captures these earthly gyrations through dances with geologically inspired titles like the “Deep Time Waltz.” Through dance, geologic lecture, spoken word, video, costume and music, the show mixes scientific concepts with movements meant to mirror the similarities between the body and the planet.

Conley received a Provost’s Commission on the Arts grant in support of the performance, which is sponsored by the Boyer College of Music and Dance.

Conley began to develop the concept for GeoDance while on tour during her four years as a dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company. While returning to the East Coast after a performance, she recalls watching the land from her airplane window and realizing that the earth below was much more than sections separated by political and structural lines.

“I began to imagine earth as a whole body,” she said. “A changing, body in motion, I began to see the earth as a living entity.”

Conley collaborated with geology professors to develop her choreography and plans to continue studying the connections between the vocabulary of dance and science.

“I’m a dancer first and just beginning to scratch the surface of geology. But I hope to continue to fuse the two disciplines,” she said.