EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.) Edward Hollowell wrote Crazy Busy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap with the premise that today's society is overrun with too much information, reminiscent of Alvin Toffler's Future Shock of 1984. But Hollowell is concerned with today's modern media and how we are bombarded with information by television and so many electronic gadgets.
After reading Crazy Busy, J. Calvin Jarrell, director of dance at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, did what any choreographer might do. He created a dance to tell the story in movement using Hollowell's premise. And, it will be presented as part of Dance In Concert 2008 that opens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, continuing at the same time through Saturday, Nov. 15, and then again at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, all in the theater at SIUE's Katherine Dunham Hall. "Hollowell calculates how many minutes the average person has between age 20 and into the 80s," Jarrel explains. "It doesn't seem like much and we're filling a lot of that time with talking on cel phones or listening to MP3 players.
"We're shutting each other out," Jarrell noted. "With the use of handsfree cell phones, it's difficult to know if a person is talking with us as we walk by or if they're talking to someone on their cell phone. And, with all the information coming at us on a television screen during a CNN broadcast, for example, we're constantly forced to re-focus our attention, encouraging an attention-deficit culture."
So, how do you put that all in a dance piece? "My dance is about time running out," Jarrell said. "It's called T-minus ... and counting, reminiscent of a rocket launching, but here the T stands for time itself. My six dancers are each costumed in two suits sewn together. They also each wear a mask on their face and one on the back of their head, so you can't tell if they're coming or going." Jarrell also said the effect includes a non-specific gender component, and it's all done at a frenetic pace. "It's kind of spooky," he said. "I didn't really choreograph it to be spooky but there it is."
Kerry Shaul, long-time member of the SIUE dance faculty, will present her piece, The Goal that Matters Most, as a study of our lives and how we make goals for ourselves everyday. "We make goals for immediate plans and we make long-range goals for later in our lives, and there's the ultimate goal for the afterlife," Shaul said. "But we have to decide for ourselves what is the most important goal." In translating this idea to dance, Shaul shows us the progression of these goals among the dancers, as they move sometimes in unison and sometimes in contrast. "There are various types of movements and different tempos of music," Shaul explained.
The music, by the way, is all from the film 3:10 to Yuma. "That's one of the best westerns ever made and the main character in the film has a goal-to get the prisoner to the train on time so he can collect the bounty money which he'll then use to save his family farm."
SIUE student Lynn Bobzin, who won the student choreography award last year for her piece, Glance, will present it at Dance In Concert 2008. In addition, adjunct dance faculty member Ben Mielke will present a piece as will guest artist Kristen Best, an SIUE dance alumna, and guest artist Holly Seitz Marchant.
Tickets for Dance In Concert 2008 are $10; senior citizens and SIUE retirees, $8; SIUE faculty and staff, $6; students with valid ID, $6; SIUE students with valid Cougar ID, free. Discounted group rates are available. To order tickets (must be paid for when ordered), call the SIUE Fine Arts box office, (618) 650-2774, or, toll-free, (888) 328-5168, ext. 2774.