About the choreographers: Fall MFA Dance Thesis Concert's Stacey Carlson and Christine Hands

October 9, 2018
The Fall Dance Season officially kicks off with the Fall MFA Dance Thesis Concert, with an evening length concert with works by Christine Hands and Stacey Carlson. We sat down to talk with them about their process and how their dance works came to fruition.

Stacey Carlson has a diverse physical background that has played out in the creative process of her new work, dwelling. Carlson received her BFA from Webster University in St. Louis, MO, after which she deepened her study of circus arts (namely, aerial work) which allowed her the opportunity to perform with Cirque du Soleil and Cirque Eloize. She assisted in the development of Anti-Gravity Yoga in New York City. Carlson was curious to re-stage this work and bring in non-traditional viewpoints by performing it in different contexts. She feels that dwelling is a culmination of her life to this point, sifting together all of her experiences in dance, circus, puppetry, physical theater, as well as her life as a graduate student and mother. Her style is visceral and incorporates the aesthetics of her somatic and dance training. Through creating dwelling , she learned to navigate from a solo creative process in order to choreograph a piece for a group of five dancers. She developed connections with the other performers, who helped her realize her vision. When describing the piece, Carlson says, “I chose the title [ dwelling] because of the multiple interpretations of what it could mean and what it could be.” 
Christine Hands has always wanted to make a piece about Hamlet ever since her time in London at the Richmond American International University where she studied Shakespeare and his works. Hands was inspired by the lyrical nature of Shakespeare’s prose and wanted to explore the possibilities of creating a Hamlet in the context of dance theater in which movement, multi-media, and text are interwoven to view this seminal work through a new lens. Hands also double majored in English and Dance while at the University of Iowa so her familiarity with creating work of this type is not her first foray into combining Shakespeare and movement. She worked with Shakespeare’s text prior to arriving at UMD while dancing in Chicago by deconstructing the text and interweaving movement. Hands’ interpretation for her thesis also pulls from a sci-fi aesthetic as a means of including dynamics of social structure to create an alternate universe. She states, “We can create the reality we want.“ Informed ideas of dystopia and idealism are present in the piece and Christine readily admits that the most recent Star Wars film was a helpful motivator in its use of a diverse cast and a strong female lead. This dance theater version of Hamlet is performed by five dancers, including Hands.
By Renee Gerardo
Tickets available here.
All performances include audio description, ASL interpretation, and a pre-show touch tour beginning 1 hour and 15 minutes before show time. The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is wheelchair accessible.