Dance CoOp

Dancers Ellie de Waal and Anna St. Ours, members of Harrisonburg Dance Cooperative, rehearse at the Ice House for an upcoming production. The cooperative will present its first large-venue performance “(un)Moved” at 7 p.m. June 11 at Court Square Theater in downtown Harrisonburg.

Harrisonburg Dance Cooperative will present its first large-venue performance “(un)Moved” at 7 p.m. June 11 at Court Square Theater in downtown Harrisonburg.

While performances are normally held in the Ice House, co-op co-founder Ellie De Waal looked for a larger space for their next performance.

“The Ice House was a very intimate setting with only about 45 people that could come, and that worked out well, but we had to turn people away at a few performances,” De Waal said. “Now we wanted to go big or go home.”

The 90-minute performance features the eight co-op dancers in a series of trios, duets and solos loosely united by the exploration of the tension between stasis and change, according to the co-op’s other founder Lara Mack.

All eight pieces feature original choreography by De Waal, Sarah Gosselin, Cynthia Marafino, Anna St. Ours and guest choreographer Julia Vessey in ballet, contemporary, butoh and dance theater styles.

Mack’s two performances, which will open and close the show, deal with the force of change, first in a ballet number about spring and then in a contemporary piece about mental and moral struggle.

“Everything gets moving again once it’s springtime,” Mack said. “I feel the joviality of things coming to life again and imagine the warm weather and wind as it uplifts me.”

Harrisonburg Dance Cooperative is also collaborating with the Friendly City Chamber Players, who will perform music to open the show and for one of the works.

De Waal thinks that anyone interested in dance or art in general will be “blown away” by the performance.

“Some people get this idea that dance isn’t tangible and they can’t understand it,” she said. “But there is enough in this show people can relate to and be moved by, so if they want an evening to get away mentally and emotionally, this is the night for them.”

De Waal began the co-op with Mack about a year ago as a place advanced dancers could go when they had stopped dancing because they couldn’t find an outlet at their skill level.

Now, the dancers meet for advanced and professional level classes once a week and have rehearsal time every day.

“We started [Harrisonburg Dance Cooperative] because all of us felt that we had missed a part of ourselves and our identity as dancers for so long,” Mack said. “It became a way of rebuilding our ‘voice’ as dancers and delving into that artistry again.”

Both founders are hoping to broaden the variety of adult and intermediate classes they offer in the future as well as dip their toes into community outreach.

“We would love to offer community classes for children and adults with disabilities or for the elderly,” De Waal said. “We just don’t have the manpower right now to implement it.”

But their main focus is still performing affordable and relatable shows for the public.

“We want to make dance approachable and reachable for the main public who don’t have high income to see expensive shows,” De Waal said.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at valleyarts.org or by calling 433-9189.

For more information about Harrisonburg Dance Cooperative, visit hburgdancecoop.org.

Contact Aleda Johnson at 574-6275 or ajohnson@dnronline.com.

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