The movement and expression of two different worlds, the Western world and India, will converge in a unique and kaleidoscopic celebration of differences and similarities in Margaret Jenkins' A Slipping Glimpse.
This cross-cultural show is an 85-minute modern dance production featuring nine performers from the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company and four performers from the Tanusree Shankar Dance Company in Kolkata, India.
The show's name comes from the abstract-expressionist painter Willem de Kooning's observation that "reality is a slipping glimpse." Jenkins chose the title because she felt each person only has a slipping glimpse of what is really going on in the rest of the world.
"I was interested in making a work that would bring together two cultures," she said. "I wanted to emphasize that even as we get to know each other and become more cognizant of each other's worlds, we still only have a slipping glimpse into these worlds."
The idea for the dance work was first formulated in 2003, when Jenkins took part in an international exchange program in Kolkata, giving her the opportunity to work for a month with dancers from the Shankar dance company.
A Slipping Glimpse then began development in fall 2005, when Jenkins and five dancers from her company traveled to Kochi, India, and worked with choreographer Tanusree Shankar and her dancers, exploring all aspects of Indian dance, including its cultural and spiritual foundations and physical movements.
After Jenkins and her dancers returned to the United States, she sent DVDs to India with ideas she was interested in developing, and Shankar's dancers would send their responses via DVD.
While the show incorporates dance from the West and from India, it does not consist of the fusion of both types.
"I am not interested in fusion, meaning my dancers learning how to be Indian dancers and Shankar's Indian dancers learning how to be Western dancers," Jenkins said. "I wanted to create a piece where the two dances would coexist, and where dancers could take certain movements from each other to broaden their own dance vocabulary."
Jenkins' main purpose for A Slipping Glimpse is to break down the boundaries of different cultures and show how those cultures can coexist. Her purpose is to challenge others to learn how to live with people who think and work differently.
"A Slipping Glimpse's combination of Indian and Western movements really speaks to the way our culture is globalizing," said Teri Storrs, a publicist for Encore Communications who works with Jenkins to promote her shows. "It depicts how the world is becoming smaller and how people of different cultures are now existing as one culture. With all of her shows, Margaret always starts with a big idea and distills it to abstract movement that is very interesting and complex to watch."
The show also includes a seven-minute outdoor portion at the beginning that, according to Jenkins, acts as a "way of blessing whatever space we are about to perform in." The outdoor portion also allows Jenkins to create her world inside and outside.
"One important component of A Slipping Glimpse is that I do not want it to dictate one specific message to the audience like, for instance, Swan Lake does. What I find so interesting about art and dance is that each person takes their own story away, and that is what I'm hoping everyone who sees the show will do."
"A Slipping Glimpse" will be performed at 7 p.m. today and tomorrow and at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, Stadium Drive and University Boulevard, College Park. Tickets are $7-$35. For more information, call 301-405-2787 or go to claricesmithcenter.umd.edu.