Learn of dance world’s struggles straight from the horse’s mouth

Katrina Wilber

In the rock musical “Rent,” the performers declare that dance is no way to make a living.

They sing of “masochism, pain, perfection, muscle spasms, chiropractors, short careers, eating disorders.”

And it’s true. A life in the performing arts rarely is easy.

But Judith Brin Ingber and other local dancers and choreographers – with the help of the Southern Theater – will show that dancers can and do survive.

“It’s an opportunity for dancers to not be mute,” Ingber said. “Usually the audience just watches and doesn’t know or learn anything about the person behind the body.”

This weekend’s “From the Horse’s Mouth, Magical Tales from Real Dancers,” brings together a cast of dancers from different genres and styles. There will be artistic directors of ballet, those trained in traditional dance forms and those who do hip-hop.

These dancers will do more than just dance. They’ll communicate about their experiences in the challenging world of dance.

Dancer and choreographer Kristin Van Loon, who works with numerous companies, including “Hijack,” her own company, called the show a challenge.

“It’s challenging for us as individuals,” she said. “I have to determine how I can to distill my identity as a dancer into my little contribution. I have to figure out how to fit over a dozen years of dance into only 16 measures of movement.”

These artists come from various backgrounds, and the University’s department of theatre arts and dance lends faculty members to the cast.

Bonnie Mathis teaches at the University and Ballet Arts Minnesota.

“This production will give dancers a perspective on a life in dance,” Mathis said. “Some of us have been dancing for years but started a second career as a teacher or choreographer. There are so many possibilities in so many different styles.”

The Southern Theater is known in the Twin Cities dance scene as a perfect venue for performances, and the theater has sponsored many of these dancers in other shows.

“From the Horse’s Mouth” gives both dancers and non-dancers a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes aspects of the lives of professional dancers and choreographers who live and work in the area.

The performers have about 300 to 400 years of dance experience among them, Van Loon said.

“A dancer’s life is extraordinary,” she said. “I’m dying to hear what everyone has to say.”