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0000017c-60f7-de77-ad7e-f3f739cf0000Arts & More airs Fridays at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.Theme music: "Like A Beginner Again" by Dan Barry of Seas of Jupiter

Wellspring's "mistfreezemeltsteam" Unites Three Artists' Visions into Multimedia

Courtesy Wellspring/Cori Terry and Dancers

If you got to a dance production, you’re likely seeing the vision of one artist: a choreographer, with occasionally help from a few others. But for the first time, Kalamazoo’s Wellspring/Cori Terry and Dancers is trying something much different. It’s bringing together three different artists: electric violinist Ritsu Katsumata, shadow theater artist Paddy Aidan, and Wellspring artistic director and choreographer Cori Terry. Together, they’ve created a chaotic, sensory multimedia experience called mistfreezemeltsteam.

The performance is primarily dance, but the additional sounds and colored shapes and swirls add up and create a kind of three-ring circus atmosphere. The dancers are front and center. But Katsumata, the violinist, performs something of a dance with her electric violin, plucking and stomping on pedals. The shadow theater artist Aidan, meanwhile, overlooks the proceedings, projecting patterns of light on to the stage, like living scenery. It’s a lot to take in. But Terry says that’s a good thing.

"And I do feel like in the performance, people are going to be watching Ritsu, she’s really charismatic," Terry says. "People are going to be watching Patty. What she does is amazing. So the choreography may not the first thing people are seeing. But that’s okay! Because I think the attention is going to go from one to the other, and that just makes a fuller experience."

The four seasons are the theme behind mistfreezemeltsteam. Rhythms and motions depict the cold of winter and the sticky heat of summer.

The idea started in the mind of Katsumata. She had a piece of music she wanted to turn into a full-on multimedia show. The idea sat in the back of her head. But last fall, she saw a show at Wellspring. Immediately, she knew this was who she wanted to work with.

"I’ve always loved collaborating across genres," Katsumata says. "I think of it, it’s like an improv jazz band, but in different media. I’ve always sought out dancers and artists and visual artists to collaborate with. With Cory, I saw their fall show and I was watching them and thinking I want to play with them! I think I looked her up the next day and kind of stalked her until they responded and said okay."

Soon, Terry brought in Aidan. The three met. They brainstormed ideas and started mixing them together. But Terry says in the world of dance -- where so much of the time a performance is just one person’s vision – collaboration wasn’t so natural.

"I mean I have never actually collaborated with two different mediums at the same time, actually," Terry says. "But usually if we’re working with live music, that would be the focus. Or if I was working with a visual artist, that would be the focus. So it’s been interesting working with both together."

"I don’t actually consider myself a good collaborator, which is a horrible thing to say," Terry continues. "Because in dance you’re always collaborating. But I tend to be like a little dictator. Because I like to just create the world I like to create, and I often tune out other distractions or ideas or whatever. This process has been the opposite of that. It’s just been really being with these two artists and trying to make something totally new."

In rehearsals, the artists are still feeling each other out. Cues are occasionally missed. Aidan is still experimenting with shapes and colors. And Terry says getting the timing of the dancers in sync with the music’s unusual rhythms and beats is difficult.

"I kept saying to them, it’s like watching drips dripping down the windowpane," Terry explains. "Like it’s raining. Like one drip starts here and another starts here and eventually it all becomes one drip and drips together. I was trying to get the dancers to feel that, but that’s tricky. Because you have your own momentum and phrasing. So to get them to start it and another person start it and another person until they all become one at the end is tricky, but that’s what I was going for."

It sounds a little complicated, but it comes together with the music and light designs to create an experience to hit your senses. And all three artists are sure that once opening night comes around, each element will blend right into each other. You can see mistfreezemeltsteam and other works as part of Wellspring’s larger “Constellation” show. The show runs May 7th and 8th at 8 p.m., and May 9th at both 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Robbie was a reproter for WMUK, covering business and the economy as well as local arts and culture as a producer for "Arts & More." He worked at WMUK from 2015 to 2016.
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