by Kat Richter for The Dance Journal
Choreographer Peter DiMuro’s newly-minted course for Drexel University says it all. The DC transplant, who spent fifteen years at the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and went on to serve as the Director of Dance Metro/DC, will be teaching an assortment of undergraduate courses this fall, including composition and improvisation. But he’s also developing a course on creative communities, which aims to equip students with the skills needed to make connections, conduct interviews and work towards obtaining their first commissions.
It sounds simple enough, but for DiMuro the notion of community is an important one, influencing not only his approach to choreography but also his bi-urban approach to cultivating audiences.
“We’re such creatures of habit in the dance world, and as humans, period,” explained DiMuro, who also directs his own company, the aptly named Public Displays of Motion. “There are really good things about being bi-urban in the dance world that we could use a little bit more of. I’ve toured around the world but produced in DC. It’s always interesting getting audience to know any artist’s work but since I have this connection, why not take advantage of that?”
His newest work, Future Preludes, comprises a post-modern fusion of dance forms set to Rachmaninoff. It’s set to premier in DC next June after a series of workshops in which a variety of dancers from different backgrounds will get to “play in each other’s sand boxes a bit.”
“In his preludes [Rachmaninoff] was mashing up: taking folk songs and sticking them in there.” DiMuro’s choreography will follow suit, with artists from such diverse movement traditions as hip hop, flamenco and Sri Lanken dance sharing their creative processes to experiment with one another. At present, the dancers all hail from DC but this won’t be for long.
“In the Facebook age, we are sliding and overlapping our communities a little bit more,” DiMuro noted. With nearly 3,000 Facebook friends, it’s no surprise that DiMuro places such an emphasis on bi-urbanism. “We need to get out of this touring model that doesn’t seem to be working right now anyway,” he said. “It’s too expensive.”
When asked to say a few words about his aesthetic preferences, DiMuro replied, “I’m really bit about this curiosity thing, if the work as I’m watching it makes me curious. It doesn’t have to be subject matter necessarily, but what is the relationship between these people on stage?” Despite having spent fifteen years with Liz Lerman, a choreographer noted for her big ideas, DiMuro has been trying to get back to his roots. “What was I worked on pre-1993?” he asked himself. “Where were my passions? And who am I am now? What are my dances about now?”
Continuing in this vein, he added, “If I were to have a company of regular players that I would play with I think it would be a combination of dancers and actors together: somebody old, somebody young, somebody who is a little difference because it shakes us out of the club that we don’t intend to make.”
In addition to Future Preludes, DiMuro was commissioned to by the Boston Conservatory to re-create a work inspired by the challenges facing families impacted by HIV/AIDS. He’s also appearing in Nijinsky’s Last Dance directed by playwright Norman Allen. Even though he’ll continue working in DC, he’s already growing fond of Philadelphia. “Outsiders think that dancers are this catty bunch of narcissistic fools who want to one up each other but people have been really open and generous. I feel like I’ve been really touched.”
Kat Richter is a freelance writer and teaching artist. Her work can be found at www.katrichter.com.
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