Walter’s World: The Intimate Art of Choreography

April 5, 2011

By Walter Rutledge

The curtain rises, the music begins and the lighting illuminates the space directly in front of us. Within seconds movement begins to soothe the rush of anticipation. Be it a group, duet or solo the number of people is not important; there in the dark the human form carves away the negative space, the nothingness, to create a conversation.

The essentials have not changed since people gathered together around a fire and danced in celebration to the gods. It is the art of storytelling, of bringing the extraordinary to the lives of those who have chosen not to fly. This was the birth of myths and legends; and despite all of the present day technological marvels, as we sit in the dark passively participating in the extraordinary we still marvel.

Dwindling financial resources have literally clipped the wings of many arts organizations, forcing them to adopt a cookie cutter mentality for creating art on deadline. This approach has often been to the determent of the art form, producing less than memorable works. The Harlem Dance Works Project 2.0 is taking an old world approach of nurturing and developing art.

Creating art is a personal and almost private experience, but paradoxically the goal of this journey is to share the completed work with the public. The Harlem Dance Works 2.0 Project is providing an opportunity for the public to experience the process of creation. One of the goals is to develop new, well-crafted choreography for the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s 2013 return.

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This is the second series offered by Dance Theatre of Harlem. In the initial series three choreographers shared their creative process, one each week and on the fourth week all of the works were presented. This time the choreographic team of Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman will share their creative process for the entire four-week series.

The idea of a choreographic collaborative is a very interesting concept at best. Interdisciplinary collaborations have driven the arts for centuries. Musicians, artists, dancers, and choreographers have joined forces to create some of the most endearing works; but two choreographers working on the same work could be compared to two chefs in the same kitchen- a recipe for disaster.

This husband and wife duo has developed away to not only share in the process, but to compliment each other’s creativity. Davis and Wideman have a very symbiotic choreographic relationship. They have developed a dance vocabulary and style of working which is process-driven. Constructing, deconstructing, editing, and problem solving are very important to these dance makers.


On April 7th Artistic Director Virginia Johnson explained to the audience these were basically movement studies and that the finally work would be very different. The number of dancers, length, and the choreographic intent would probably all change. When the actual work is mounted on Dance Theatre of Harlem it will also feature an original score.

Taking those factors into consideration to offer a critique of the work would be both futile and misleading. Over the next three weeks we will provide you with some insight into the process of dance making. We will talk to and observe the choreographers and the cast in the intimate art of choreography.

There are three more studio showings left: April 14th, 21st, and 28th at 6:30 pm at the Dance Theatre of Harlem located at 466 West 152nd Street. The event is free to the public. Each showing consists of a rehearsal with the dancers, performance of the work, panel discussion with the choreographers and other professional in the arts, and questions and feedback from the audience. For more information visit the Dance Theater of Harlem website at

In Photo: 1) Thaddeus Davis and Darius Crenshaw 2) Tanya Wideman and Darius Crenshaw 3) Tanya Wideman

Judy Tyrus photographer

Dancing To Vogue
Dancing To Vogue (Photo credits: Giphy)

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