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Preview: Karin Stevens Dance’s Point of Departure

Written by Kristen Legg

Karin Stevens Dance
Choreographer Karin Stevens has combined talents with multimedia artist Craig van den Bosch to create an evening length work that combines the technology of present day particle science with 12th Century Islamic architecture. Point of Departure began with an observation of the juxtaposition between the muqarnas dome architecture and cosmology found in Islamic mosques and the Large Hadron particle Collider in Cern. The work has developed into an examination of matter, technology, and the human pursuit to make meaning from the physical world. In Point of Departure, Stevens and van den Bosch use their own observations of these technologies, old and new, macro and micro, to explore, create, and present a richly complex visual kinetic art that will engage the viewer in a similar wonderment about existence and our relationship to physical matter. SeattleDances had the opportunity to discuss sources of inspiration and the art of collaboration with Stevens.
SD: Tell us how you came up with the idea to combine particle science and Islamic architecture.

KS: Craig has been interested in technology and science for quite some time. Prior to the beginning of our collaborative meetings he had already done investigative work and thought into the visual similarities between the 12th Century Islamic Muqarnes Domes and a cross section of the Cern Hadron particle collider. I had, in a fleeting moment at one time, thought the designs found in Islamic art would be an interesting inspiration for dance, but I had not considered particle science. I hadn’t even heard of the collider. This project has become one of the most richly rewarding journeys for me. I have come to have a true interest in 21st century scientific development. I have enjoyed reading everything from the latest on String Theory by physicist Brian Green to a book on Faith and Science by the former physicist turned Anglican priest John Polkinghorne. To me, as a movement artist, our matter matters deeply. This artistic journey and work allowed me to explore ideas related to our matter through other human pursuits (purposeful/spiritual architecture and 21st Century physics) in making meaning from the stuff we are made of.

SD: What has collaborator Craig van den Bosch brought to this work?

KS: Craig brought the initial idea, composed all the music, created the video content, and built the head piece and hand pieces used in the first movement of the work. We had an equal voice in the development and shaping of the work in its parts and as a whole. It has been a very successful collaboration and we have grown in our friendship as well as our respect for one another.

SD: Could you discuss how you work?

KS: The last three years I have been deeply interested in the work of collaboration with the ‘other’ rather than being driven by ‘self.’ I always begin with movement…whether pondering an idea or music, the movement is captured in improvisation and videotaped, the movement then moves me to shape it and it reveals to me the work that wants form. I am interested in the abstract before narrative, but more often than not something human reveals itself. I think that is why I am so interested in the natural world and the metaphors for human life that can be found there. Working with ideas found in the sub-atomic and cosmos-related research I did for this project was super inspiring to me.

SD: How will seeing your work at Velocity be different from past company performances at the Fremont Abbey?

KS: Founders Theater gives the work the lighting effects necessary for this work. Amiya Brown did a wonderful job designing the lighting. The lighting and video are both very important parts of this work and in some ways almost the ‘costume’ of the dance. In viewing the work, the intimacy of the Fremont Abbey still remains at Velocity’s Founders Theater. Even the shadows dancing on the walls at the Abbey are also a part of Founders Theater whether one likes them or not! They were like old friends this week as we did tech for the show. 

Point of Departure can be seen at Velocity’s Founders Theater May 11–12, 2012 at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets (