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Dancing with horses on Vashon

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on Aug. 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm |
August 3, 2009 12:00 pm

The Equus Project combines dance with horses. Photo courtesy Karl Cronin.


And here’s one for those who’ve seen it all in the dance world: New York’s Equus Project is coming to Vashon this weekend for two performances of contemporary dance with horses.


Yes, horses. Live horses. The performances will be held outside at Heart of the Horse Arabian horse farm, and will feature newly created choreography to the live music of cellist/vocalistJami Sieber. So how do you dance with horses? Judging by The Equus Project’s website, dancers in flowing attire sweep gracefully around the horse while the animal (with a rider, naturally) responds with echoing footwork and head-tossing.


If this seems like quite a collaboration, it is. From the press release: “The company’s work emerges from ongoing research into the development of a kinetic language that bridges the world of human and equine. As highly perceptive herd animals, horses respond to physical intent, motion, and shaping in very particular ways. Our work investigates the movement associated with this behavior, which we then document and integrate into a performance practice.”


So there you go. The Equus Project’s director JoAnna Mendl Shaw, who began her career in the Pacific Northwest dancing with Danceworks Northwest and teaching at Cornish College, has recently selected the Seattle area as a pilot community for the non-profit, which means there’ll be other dances with horses coming back soon.


“An Evening with Equus” shows at 6 p.m. August 9 and 10 at Heart of the Horse Farm, 21901 Vashon Hwy SW, Vashon Island. There will be a post-performance Q & A with light refreshments. Arrive early, as overflow parking is a short walk from the performance site. Advance ticket purchase only: $25 from Books by the Way, 9923 SW Bank Rd. Vashon, or by contacting equus@karlcronin.com. Rehearsals are open to the public August 5-7 for $10 / day. To attend a rehearsal, call 718-916-3528.

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