DIA presents new exhibit “Dance! American Art 1830-1960”

The Detroit Institute of Arts is introducing a new exhibition, “Dance! American Art 1830-1960.”

Opening Sunday, March 20, the exhibition is taking the place of last season’s “30 Americans” exhibit. The American dance showcase will give Detroiters an insight to the many forms and cultures of the art of movement.

According to the exhibition press release, the DIA has brought the famed work of 19th century American Harlem Renaissance painters who challenged negative stereotypes and created a strong cultural identity and a fluid dialogue between artists, dancers and choreographers.

As a part of the American dance traveling showcase, the exhibit presents paintings, sculptures, costumes, photographs and projected videos of different forms of movement from America’s diverse cultures.

The 90 works from over 70 artists vary, from George Catlin’s painted sacred Native Americans bull dance, to George Bingham’s buck dances and Irish jigs, to William Chase’s portrait of an elegant Spanish women flamenco dancer, to Paul Cadmus’s ballet dancers.

The exhibit also showcases famous works by Diego Rivera, Andy Warhol, Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent.

Jane Dini, associate curator of painting and sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, said that she has spent the past 3 years creating an extraordinary arête with the DIA to share with the city of Detroit.

“One of the things that has happened in the reinstallation, was the spotlight on some of the great women sculptors in the turn of the last century. They were looking for something American and they found it with American dance. This is a show that celebrates who were inspired by dance.”

Dini, a longtime ballet dancer, explained that dance is an often undermined and under-celebrated form of art that should be seen as equal to paintings and sculptures.

“There’s no answer to dance,” said Dr. Thomas De Frantz, Duke University professor and dancer. “It allows us to rethink or re-know something, but it doesn’t end the story–there’s no end to dance.”

He added, “Dance is amazing because it embodies the practice that brings all of our three million neurons firing simultaneously. Dance allows us to generate and move those neurons and our bodies to something inevitable in contact language.”

DeFrantz was featured in one of the seven dance videos that were projected on walls in the exhibit to enhance the American dance experience. The modern, historical and traditional dance performances presented artworks from several Detroit legacies and talents.

Megan DiRienzo, the DIA’s interpretive specialist, focused closely on incorporating these performance videos into the exhibit for a chance to bring the art pieces to life.

“For this exhibition, we dropped the audio tour and we developed these video overlays. When you walk in the exhibition, you’re going to see works of art, but you will also be introduced to a number of dancers who will share their perspectives as dancers and insight into their art form, and you’re really going to hear from people who made dance their life’s work,” DiRienzo said.

One of the video performances of Haleem Rasul and members of Hardcore Detroit combined the Jitterbug, ballroom and funk dance performances into one—bringing to light the essence of brave and revolutionary African-American contributions to 19th century dance.

To #JoinTheDance movement, visit the DIA’s “Dance! American Art 1830-1960” exhibition running Tuesday through Sunday from March 20 until June 12, 2016. The showcase will be free entry on Fridays and $10 entry on other days for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents.

For more information about the exhibit and hours, visit: dia.org

Upcoming events:

Saturday, March 19:

Detroit Film Theatre: Dances Made for Camera (1960-1985) at 4p.m.

Sunday, March 20:

Dance Now Detroit: Take Root, 1 p.m., Rivera Court

Lecture: Dance: American Art, 2 p.m., Lecture Hall

Canvas to Dance: Jennifer Harge, 4 p.m., Rivera Court

Contact Arts and Entertainment Editor Mayssa Masri at mayssamasri.tse@gmail.com or 248-924-7406. Follow her on Twitter: @MayssaMasri

Full article via: The South End

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