Last summer, the Ipswich Moving Company turned its dance studio into an art gallery.
“There are so many artists right in this area,” said Janet Craft, who founded the company and its school. “We got together some of these artists for East End Open Studios last July, with photographers, painters, dancers, musicians and potters.
“It was hugely successful, and it was so much fun.”
Seeing all those paintings and photographs in that space, where she normally just rehearses dancers, also gave Craft an idea.
“That got me to thinking about dance, not just as a performing art, but as visual art,” Craft said.
The works she started choreographing to explore that relationship will appear in six performances of “Look, Look Again,” from Wednesday, April 22 through Saturday, April 25.
“We realized as we started playing with these ideas, it would be wonderful to have a visual artist look at the space, with a sensibility to color, design, shape,” Craft said.
She invited Kurt Ankeny to look at the dances they were developing, and suggest ways to heighten their visual appeal.
“It’s a dance installation,” Craft said. “We’re using the performance space in a non-traditional way—there are dances happening in unusual places.”
These include a dancer performing in a closet, where sometimes the door is closed, and sometimes it’s open.
“He’s creating environments for each of these dances,” Craft said. “There are 11 sections. There is dancing that happens in this little cupboard where everything is black, but inside it’s neon pink—it has to have a light source inside.”
One section is defined by a hanging rope sculpture, while another features a dancer on top of a plinth.
“If you go into a museum, you might see a sculpture sort of up on a pedestal,” Craft said. “He said, ‘Put this dancer on a plinth’—it works beautifully.”
The audience will be moved through each of the sections in sequence, after visiting a gallery of photographs and drawings in the foyer, which were created through another set of collaborations.
“Three photographers have come and photographed, and drawn from rehearsals,” Craft said. “What they’re doing is, they’re looking for abstract images.
“It’s not typical dance photography. They captured parts of bodies, motion, delayed motion.”
Each audience will be limited to 35, so they can fit in the newly defined spaces, which is why the company is putting on six performances of “Look, Look Again” instead of their usual 3.
“The audience, at various points throughout the performance, will be invited to move to a different location,” Craft said.
The dancers are veterans with Ipswich Moving Company and include Jenny Carlson, who has directed the company’s school since 2003, Tabitha Liversidge, and Danielle DeVito.
They will be accompanied by recorded music from composers like minimalist Michael Nyman; Max Ricther, whose works are described as neo-classical; a group called The Black Dog, which produces electronic music; and the vocal ensemble Room Full of Teeth.
Another visual perspective on the dances has been provided by videographer Niklas Kelleher, who worked on an Ipswich Community Access Media program about the Ipswich Moving Company last year.
“This has been an important collaboration, having him come and tape these dances,” Craft said. “The audience will see live performances, and in some cases they will see that dance again, but through the eye of those videos: hence the title, ‘Look, Look Again.’”
Kelleher has created five separate videos that will be shown throughout the performance.
“Each video is unique, depending on the camera angle,” Craft said. “You can do things with video that are impossible in life, with overlapping dance movement, slowing it down, changing the light intensity.”
IF YOU GO
What: “Look, Look Again / Dance Installation,” a collaboration of Ipswich Moving Company with East End Artists, including: Kurt Ankeny, Nikolas Kelliher, David Stone, Kezia Fitzgerald, and Nick Repoli (photographers), Sandra Galley, lighting designer, and Ivette Sherbourne, costume designer.
When: Wednesday to Saturday, April 22 to 25: Wednesday and Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 12 and 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 3 and 7:30 p.m.
Where: Ipswich Moving Company Studio Theatre, 2 Cogswell St., Ipswich
Information: Tickets $25 adult, $20 students, Boston Dance Alliance members, seniors. Limited seating, reservations recommended. More information and tickets at 978-356-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org; online tickets at movingcompany.brownpapertickets.com.