Dara Meredith tackles the issue of mental illness with Beneath the Surface, Sept 14 & 15

International Solo Tanz Theatre Festival’s People Choice Awardee and Eleone Dance Theatre’s Assistant Artistic Director and Rehearsal Director, Dara Meredith presents her own groundbreaking debut project, Beneath the SurfaceBeneath the Surface focuses on mental illness, specifically Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder, Depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in soldiers of war, in a six-part ninety-minute evening of dance theatre.  Meredith is collaborating with dancers from Eleone Dance Theatre, Philadanco, Temple University students and independent artists.

Meredith’s culminating movement exploration emerged through her research on mental illnesses. Meredith’s unique movement vocabulary infuses classical modern and ballet techniques with contemporary African aesthetics while emphasizing a theatrical experience for the audience.  The work takes a journey into the inner world and the effects of mental illness as well as how it interacts with those it encounters.  Beneath the Surface portrays symptoms of paranoia, depression, loss of interest, hallucinations, and pain that collide and intersect in an opening quartet driven by acapella polyrhythms on the dancer’s body.

Meredith is invested in the research and groundwork for this show, opening up the difficult conversation of mental health in America, in Black communities, and in families.  She is using this show and dance conversation to integrate social change as it relates to mental health.

Dara J Meredith, an Atlanta native, received her B.F.A. in Dance Education at the University of the Arts and was the recipient of the highest honored Stella Moore Award. She received her Masters of Fine Art at Temple University and was awarded the Rose Vernick Choreographic Achievement Award.  Mrs. Meredith is the Assistant Artistic Director of Eleone Dance Theatre as well as, principal dancer, choreographer, and Rehearsal Director. Mrs. Meredith has performed with Total Dance Theater in Senegal, West Africa, Tommie Evans’ “Waheed Works”, Brian Sanders’ “Junk”, Jomandi Productions’ “Black Nativity” (Atl), VIA International’s “Body Snatchers the Musical” (Los Angeles, CA), Collaboration Works, and Sonia Sanchez’ “Living Legends” national tour. She has choreographed for Bad Boy’s “Danity Kane”, Grace Dance Theater, Danse 4 Nia Dance Company, Axam Dance Theater Experience, and West Chester University.    She has taught at the University of the Arts, Pennsylvania State College, and several studios and institutions in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  In 2004 she co-founded DCNS Summer Dance Intensive and in 2009 she produced and choreographed her own sold-out show, “Moments ReDefined”.  Mrs. Meredith is presently the choreographer for the Creative and Performing Arts High School of Philadelphia musicals since 2009.  She received a “Best Choreography Award” from National Dance Showcase, Philadelphia Live Arts Fringe Festival’s “Rocky Award”, and the “E Award for Excellence” from Eleone Dance Theatre.  She also received the “2009 Audience Choice Award” for the highly competitive International Solo Tanz Festival for Choreographers in Stuttgart, Germany and the Ellen Foreman Memorial Award from Drexel University.  Mrs. Meredith is currently an Adjunct Faculty member at Temple University and has had the opportunity to write the curriculum and implement it for the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Dance Chance Program.

Beneath the Surface will be performed September 14 & 15 at 7:30 pm at Temple University’s Conwell Dance Theater. The Dance Theater is located on the fifth floor of Conwell Hall, Temple University, (corner of N. Broad Street and Montgomery Avenue in Philadelphia). Tickets are $20.00 General Admission / $25 at the door; Tickets are available online at Dara.Brownpapertickets.com (24/7) purchased at the door, or by phone at 1-800-838-3006.  There will be a talkback after the show on September 14.

Photo by Denis Gronostayskiy