By Walter Rutledge
Francesca Harper’s new work in progress Fractured Beauty will receive the final studio showing on Thursday January 12 at 6:30 at the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The work is part of the Harlem Dance Works 2.0, which commissions choreographers to develop new works for the soon to be relaunched Dance Theatre of Harlem’s upcoming 2012/2013 season. Harper a former member of the Dance Theatre Harlem is developing a work for six women that explores her loss, grief and “rebirth” following the death of her mother, dancer and arts administrator Denise Jefferson.
It would be unfair to offer a critique of Fractured Beauty because it is in the process of development and will probably go through a number of incarnations before it’s premiere. What is fascinating is watching the choreographic process, the way Harper is evolving the work- her methodology. The process is surprising collaborative. This personal rendering is an open exchange of ideas and energy that Harper has guided the composer and performers through. If I had to compare it to another art form it reminds me of sculpting. She is literally chipping away from an immense body of ideas and emotions, and what remains will ultimately be a focused and complete work.
Artists have used their work to express loss. Picassco’s blue period after the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas, Choreographer Glen Tetley’s ballet Voluntaries in memory of Stuttgart Ballet Artistic Director John Cranko, or Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s epic poem In Memoriam A.H.H. are a few examples of how artists reconcile great personal loss through their art. Featured Beauty is a combination of Harper’s trail by ordeal and rebirth/transfiguration. We applaud her courage and anticipate her completion of the work.
The Harlem Dance Works 2.0 will offer a glimpse into Harper’s creative process by allowing the audience to see a brief rehearsal. This is followed by performance of the work in progress and a question and answer period with the choreographer and dancers. An informal reception concludes the evening. Seating is on a first come basis a rsvp is advised by calling 212- 690- 2800 or visit www.dancetheatreofharlem.org
Photography by Judy Tyrus