Rhythmically Speaking returns for its sixth year of rhythm-based dance

Categories: Dance
Photo by Calabay Productions
Rhythmically Speaking, an evening showcase of choreographers working with jazz and rhythm forms of dance, is back for its sixth year this weekend. Performing at the Southern Theater, the showcase features a diverse mix of artists who all find inspiration from the way music and beats can move bodies in a space.
Photo by Calabay Productions 
New this year, the show will have an increased presence of live music, building on the company's mission to support rhythm-driven dance forms. To that end, DJ Otto will be spinning for one of the pieces, and the heavily improvised trio Moors Blackmon, who play acid junk jazz, will accompany artistic director's Erinn Liebhard's work. Voice of Culture, Kenna Cottman's dance and drumming group, will also provide live music. 

Participating choreographers include Karla Grotting, well known in the Twin Cities for her eclectic variety of percussive style work, and Bboy J-Sun, whose piece explores how breaking has evolved as a dance form. Also on the docket are Christine Maginnis and Joanne Spencer, plus visiting choreographer Michele Dunleavy, from Pennsylvania, who Liebhard says is presenting "very complicated rhythm tap piece." 

Liebhard wants to "swing this one out of the ballpark," she says.  Next year, she'll have completed her graduate program in Boulder, Colorado, which will allow the group to expand its programming. 

Photo by Calabay Productions 
In the show, Liebhard presents a seed of her MFA project, based on the idea of standards in folk and jazz music. Liebhard has done extensive research on the subject, exploring the shared cultural experience of hearing tunes that are widely known, even if you don't know who originally wrote it. It's also loosely based on the idea of trying on different versions of oneself, which Liebhard demonstrates by working with a coat. 

As a choreographer, Liebhard has avoided solo work, finding it difficult because she can't step out and look at what she's creating. Plus, she finds it lonely to work on her own. "I don't get inspired by an empty studio," she says. Rather, she finds inspiration by music, and meeting and working with people. 

The piece she's presenting has allowed Liebhard to let go of a bit of control, and to trust herself more. Working with video, she's been able to see the dances take shape, and once the musicians entered the picture, things started to kick in for her. 

With Liebhard's piece, as well as a number of others, improvisation features strongly in the work, in part because the music itself is heavily improvised. "That's another experiment for me," Liebhard says. "How much can I let go and exist in the moment?" Improvisation is important for the choreographer because it's an important part of the jazz music tradition. 


Rhythmically Speaking
8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday
Southern Theater


Location Info


The Southern Theater

1420 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

Category: General

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