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Until very recently in human history, almost all dancing was done in non-theater spaces and outdoors. But while most of us associate dance performances with traditional theaters and stages, MIT Senior Lecturer Beth Soll has maintained a longtime interest in performing in unconventional spaces. Over the years, she has created a number of formal and informal performances on the MIT and Harvard campuses, as well as in parks and playgrounds.
MIT's Lobby 13 is the performance site of her latest project, Ahead of All Parting, which will be presented Friday-Sunday, Nov. 17-19, at 3pm.
A 35-minute dance for six performers, Ahead of All Parting was originally created by Soll on a playground. The piece incorporates the non-traditional performing space's sense of space, the difficulty of the terrain, and the uncontrollable elements of sound, passersby and weather, with images derived from a series of sports photos.
The sense of mythical heroism and drama, combined with the simplicity of the geometric shapes of Ahead of All Parting, influenced Ms. Soll in her choice of the title, which is based on a translation of a poem by the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. The poem celebrates the necessity to winter through human losses and to survive them with joy. Despite the seriousness of the dance's theme, it also appeals to children, according to Ms. Soll. During the dance, the performers-Tamsin Carlson, Janelle Freiman, Paul Kafka, Jenny Knudsen, Carol Somers and Lela Spencer-speak to the audience both formally and informally.
These performances are presented by Dance Projects, Inc. and the MIT Music and Theater Arts Section and are supported in part by the Council for the Arts at MIT and the Polaroid Foundation. For information, call 547-8771.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 15, 1995.