sightlines, Sharon Mansur and Daniel Burkholder
This weekend Sharon Mansur and Daniel Burkholder premiere their new movement work “sightlines” at Dance Place here in Washington DC. Burkholder describes “sightlines” as “their most ambitious work yet.”
In the early 1990’s both Sharon Mansur and Daniel Burkholder, fresh out of college, moved to Washington D.C. and began working at Dance Place. Although they came from different parts of the country, this close work environment created an opportunity for a collaborative relationship that would last for twenty years and counting. Being young and having access to the intimate workings of a theater where some of the biggest names in modern dance regularly performed as well as having the mentorship of Dance Place’s directors Carla Perlo and Deborah Riley, Mansur and Burkholder were poised to experiment with their own possibilities in creating dances. Their first work together in 1992 called “Shared Distance” was performed at Glen Echo Park’s Hall of Mirrors and from this first collaboration the relationship blossomed. Seeing them together, they make a curious couple, he is tall and broad but light on his feet and moves with wide swaths of energy while she is small, quick and full of mischief. You could easily imagine that they would collide and repel like magnets being drawn either too close or not close enough but instead they strike a balance that is both delightful and mesmerizing. What they found in each other was a kindred spirit and a shared interest in experimentation which led them, as Burkholder puts it, to find “a way of moving together that clicked.”
Not only did their moving together click but they combined their energies to form a dance company in 1993 which they called Quiescence and a not-for-profit organization which they named Moving Ground. The advantages of working together became evident to them. Burkholder says, “We divided the labor and we had someone to be accountable to which was helpful as young artists. Mansur describes it as helping her to “feel like she could have a life as an artist. Having someone there was helpful. We could be critical but in a positive way.”
By 1998 and after five years of creating and experimenting with movement improvisation, the pair decided they wanted something different so they disbanded their company and Burkholder took off to San Francisco and Mansur traveled up to New York City. Burkholder wanted more information, a different community to explore and to stretch his wings. Mansur had the opportunity to dance with Sara Rudner, one of her hero’s, so they left DC for a time but both returned a few years later. Coming back to the city they lived in the same house but started separate dance companies with which they continued to work with improvisation and choreographic experimentation. For Mansur this was a restart which gave them “a fresh perspective on each other with another way to relate.” Although they had different companies they continued to create work and perform together.
To celebrate their twenty year artistic journey they created “sightlines” an improvisational duet embodying relationships and shifting perspectives between Mansur and Burkholder, the audience and the space. It explores the differences between public and private and changing proximity. The work also integrates technology as a way of seeing as many of us now view the world partially through our computers and mobile devices. “sightlines” is a work that weaves together the thread of contact they have had over the years as artists and as people.
So how do they feel about celebrating twenty years together? “How did I get so old” exclaims Burkholder. “We have a sense of being the old guard to the younger dancers” says Mansur but in many ways they keep their youthful schemes alive. As they plot to push the boundaries of their experimentation within earshot of Dance Place co-director Carla Perlo, she looks sternly and asks, “What are you two up to?”
Sharon Mansur and Daniel Burkholder
Dance Place 3225 8th St NE
Saturday February 18, 8pm
Sunday February 19, 4pm
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