The theme of the dance is ordinary people doing extraordinary things, said artistic director and dancer Dina Denis of Dance Into Light/Dina Denis Dance company.
“LifeFull,” which will be previewed at the Third Annual Celebration event on Saturday, grew from a series of inspiring interviews and an interest in the connection between movement and text.
“I fell in love with text and how it could be combined with my artist life,” Denis said.
Denis, the energetic founder of the four-strong modern dance group, interviewed two animal care workers, an executive coach who helps companies understand cultural diversity, an advocate for Iranian women’s rights, a special educator and a missionary.
These “extraordinary people” fell into her path through friends, Facebook and her work as a dance teacher at the Bronx Academy for the Future. Denis spent a year conducting and transcribing these interviews.
“I go home thinking about their accomplishments. It has permeated my life,” dancer Nicole Speletic said.
With these words in mind, Denis, of East Elmhurst, and dancers Lisa Craig of Woodside, Nicole Sclafani of Astoria and Speletic of Middle Village worked collaboratively to create corresponding choreography.
“If nothing else, we are honoring someone who has made a difference,” Nicole Sclafani said.
At the annual celebration, the four dancers will show off the abstract piece of choreography that works with the words of Ellen, a special educator who changed her career path for her daughter.
Ellen worked a high-powered job that took her away from her daughter, who struggled with learning to read. Through working with her daughter, she realized she wanted to help other children with learning disabilities, as well as follow a career path that gave her more time to be with her child.
Through the dancers’ movements the audience sees the emotions this story conveys. The vignette starts with the conflict of working too much and burning out and then working towards a solution.
“When I was young and saw dances it inspired me to be a dancer, but it would be cool if a dance inspired someone to want to be something else like a nurse [for example],”Speletic said.
Steve Sclafani created the beats and at times weaves the interviews into the music. Carrie Patterson, a fellow teacher at the Bronx Academy for the Future, narrates during the dance.
“LifeFull” is an evolving piece. The dancers previewed one segment at their celebration last year and this week Denis turned in an application for a grant to fund a website where browsers could read more about the interviews and even post their own stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
The piece has changed from last year, when audience members told the dancers they wanted to understand more about the interviewee’s stories, which prompted a little less abstracted look at the text, according to Denis.
The celebration at Topaz Arts Center in Woodside will not only preview the dance, but will also include a wine tasting, silent auction and time to meet with the artists.
Dance Into Light 3rd Annual Celebration
When: June 2, 5 to 8 p.m.
Where: Topaz Arts Center, 55-03 39 Ave., Woodside
Tickets: Donations welcome, silent auction, wine tasting and dance preview.