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A one-night hit: The Uncommon Accord project

On Feb. 17, the College’s Performance, Theater, and Dance program partnered with the Portland Ballet to bring the Uncommon Accord project to the stage in Runnals for one night. The performance consisted of three twenty-minute pieces, each choreographed by different choreographers, and a shorter duet that featured two Colby students. Bringing both classical and contemporary elements to the stage, this project was moving to watch and reflected the collaboration between companies. 

Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Performance, Theater, and Dance Annie Kloppenberg contributed to the choreography of the piece “The Art of Holding and Beholding.” The inspiration came from an exposition of Alex Katz, and more specifically his 1983 Pas de Deux, which was used by Kloppenberg as she taught the first-year dance project last fall. She worked with her students to build a series of five duets, which were then developed into the dances performed on stage.

“I took the five panels from Katz’s Pas de Deux and read them like a map. Each duet moves through the shapes in the panels in a sequence and then rewinds back through them. They all start and end on the same panel,” Kloppenberg explained. “I was playing with this idea of wrapping around one another and through one another, as a way of arriving from one position to the next.” 

The piece includes an engaging sound score composed by Albert Mathias. The score features Colby students reciting recorded texts with translations in seven languages, some of which were the first or second languages of cast members. With an array of components including the lighting and colors, this project allows its viewers to formulate their own interpretations of the performance.

“It is really an opportunity to engage in a kind of interpretive watching and reading of the work, more like you would read a poem or a novel. The audience has a role in constructing the meaning, and…we all encounter the world of the piece based on our own individual experiences,” Kloppenberg said.

Similarly, Matthew Cumbie, a visiting Assistant Professor and guest artist in the performance of “The Art of Holding and Beholding,” shared his experience as both a key collaborator and performer. He explained that, despite being part of both sides of the project and knowing it well, the piece evokes various interpretations for him.

“One of the things that stands out to me is thinking about relationships and people that we are in relationships with. I feel like each of the five duets has its own kind of flavor in terms of the kind of relationship that the two people are in,” Cumbie said. “You get this really multifaceted sense of people connected to one another, and whether that is the same relationship, but from different angles or different points in time, or if those are five different relationships, I am not sure.”

In addition to this larger piece, which included ten performers, two of the College’s students performed “The Art of Moral Protest,” choreographed by Kimberly Fletcher-Stibal. One of the performers, Gabby Vogel `26, shared her experience working with Kloppenberg and Cumbie. 

“It was a really cool experience to be part of such a collaborative company in a way that everybody contributed a lot to the piece and we were each able to come up with our own choreography and blend it together,” Vogel said. “I was able to watch [Cumbie’s] performance of it and it was so interesting to see how our work was then taken by Portland Ballet and expanded on.” 

Although Uncommon Accord was only performed for one night at Colby, the works that inspired the project are continually on display at the Colby Museum of Art. 

“Katz was deeply inspired by dance and so it kind of comes full circle to make a dance that is inspired by Katz,” Kloppenberg said. 


~ Annie Goldstein `26

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