Ellen Bromberg, associate professor at the University of Utah's modern dance department, teamed up with Della Davidson, choreographer at the University of California, Davis, to create a work called "The Weight of Memory" during the summer of 2006.
Bromberg and Davidson had worked together before, and both have ties to Utah as well as Tucson, Ariz., where they first met, said Bromberg.
"Della asked me to come to UC Davis to participate in its visiting artist program," said Bromberg. "I had been reading works by (U. English professor) Karen Brennan and told her I wanted to do a work that was inspired by her writings. So, she gave me some pieces and I fell in love with them."
So, Bromberg called Davidson and told her that she had an idea for another collaboration.
"Karen's work is called 'Ten Birds' and is a piece comprised of 10 verses," said Bromberg. "It's prose, but it's broken up into vignettes. And each of them begin with the line, 'When I woke up."'
Bromberg said she has always been drawn to Brennan's writings because she has the ability to capture moments in time.
"And her descriptions are so clear that I can picture and feel every place or person or feeling she writes about," said Bromberg. "'Ten Birds' is not a depressing work, but it talks about memory, loss, relationships and feelings of anticipation and dread. The images are so strong and striking."
Davidson agreed during a phone interview from her home in Davis, Calif.
"The writings were evocative of my own memories," she said. "And Ellen and I have worked together before, and we were eager to work with Karen's writings."
Bromberg said she and Davidson found a rewarding challenge in creating the production.
"In addition to dance, there is video, music and recorded readings from the writings," said Bromberg. "The biggest challenge for us is to find balance. Dance is only a part of the work. But we also didn't want the other things to take away from the dance. And we didn't want the dance to take anything away from the other aspects, as well."
Bromberg, who was the artistic director for the U.'s Dance for the Camera Festival and Workshop, knows the use of video can enhance and expand the dance experience.
"The video we're using this time is more like painting," she said. "Some of the video will be used as background, but also foreground."
"We have come to assume that the dancers are the main attraction in a work because they are live on stage," said Davidson. "But that isn't always the case, especially with this work. Sometimes the dancers are the highlights and the media is the main focus."
While the work does have a climax and structure, it is not sequenced in a story-board fashion, said Bromberg. "It's nonlinear. There is a logic to it, but there isn't a structured timeline. There are layers of scenes and it does make sense."But what Della and I tried to do was create a wholistic experience with image and metaphore," said Bromberg. "The work is very different from what it was back in 2006. We worked very collaboratively with the dancers and they've been great."
If you go . . .
What: The Weight of Memory, Repertory Dance Theatre
Where: Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South
When: Thursday through Saturday, 8 p.m.; Saturday and April 13, 2 p.m.
How much: $30
Phone: 3555-2787, 888-451-2787