News Center

News from the Reed College public affairs office

Search: or



Nationally acclaimed dancer-choreographer Heidi Duckler creates new site-specific performance at Reed College

The free public performance on November 4 at Reed is part of a week of special Collage Dance Theatre events, including a brown bag discussion with PICA and a public workshop at Conduit Dance Inc.

PORTLAND, OR (October 10, 2005) - Nationally renowned dancer-choreographer Heidi Duckler, a former Reed College student, and founder, artistic director, and choreographer of the Collage Dance Theatre (CDT) of Los Angeles, will present a site-specific performance at 7:30 p.m. on November 4 in Reed's Eliot Hall. Duckler will draw on the skills of student actors, dancers, writers, visual artists, and musicians to create an interdisciplinary work. The original, dynamic performance will be based on student interpretations of the legend of Beowulf and choreographed specifically to be performed in Eliot.

The event is free and open to the public.

As the director of Collage Dance Theatre, Heidi Duckler (Reed Class of '72) and her sister Merridawn (Reed Class of '79) have collaborated on concepts and models of site-specific dance, a form focused on the environment in which a performance takes place. This fall, the Duckler sisters are returning to Reed College to hold workshops and performances based on the elegiac narrative Beowulf. The student-choreographed excerpts of Beowulf will be performed in Eliot Hall at the conclusion of the weeklong residency.

Audience members will move from space to space in Eliot Hall, viewing the performance that has been specifically created for each space. The Collage Dance Theatre members will perform their site-specific work in Vollum Lecture Hall after the Eliot performances have concluded. This event is also free and open to the public.

The performances will be the culminating feature of a series workshops designed to instruct students on the methods of site-specific dance. The workshops are being held at Reed and conducted by Duckler during a week-long residency made possible by Patricia Wong, a Reed College dance professor, and recent recipient of an $8,000 National College Choreography Initiative award from Dance/USA.

Reed College's dance department is partnering with the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) to make the following additional public events possible during Duckler's residency:

Meet the artists at PICA - Members of the public will have the opportunity to meet Heidi and Merridawn Duckler to discuss their work at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 3 in the resource room at PICA (224 NW 13th Ave #305). It will be a brown bag chat with the artists and admission is free.

Dance workshop - A public workshop on site specific dance will be taught by two members of the CDT company, Lillian Bitkoff and Marissa LaBog, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 5 at the Conduit Dance Inc. studio at 918 SW Yamhill, Suite 401. The cost for the workshop is $15 and the public can pre-register by calling 771-1112, ext 7710.

Beowulf the Dance
The story's themes of fame, fate, heroism, and honor are seen through the lens of contemporary Los Angeles culture with a chorus of screenwriters at their laptops and a Grendel who appears on an analyst's couch. The Geats, Hrothgar, and Wiglaf are contemporary characters portrayed as modern seekers.

What makes a hero in contemporary life? Where do modern day monsters reside? This performance of the classic poem incorporates modern dance, film, parallel narrative, and audience interaction to remain true to the original rawness, beauty and immediacy of the ancient text.

Merridawn Duckler, a longtime CDT collaborator, will draw on highly contemporary themes of loyalty, tribal ties, and memory to create a literary re-imagining of Beowulf, with Grendel's mother as a modern-day stage mother.

Students of the Reed College dance department will encounter Beowulf and create their own versions of the poem using site, text, and performance.

Heidi Duckler
After attending Reed College, Duckler received her B. S. in dance from the University of Oregon in Eugene and her M. A. in dance from UCLA. She founded the Collage Dance Theater, based in Los Angeles, in 1985.

Initially, the company's works were designed for the stage and focused on the themes and objects prevalent in modern culture. It was only a short while after its founding that Collage developed into the site-specific company that it is today.

Duckler has staged site-specific performances in such locations as the Eden Roc and Ambassador Hotels, the Herald Examiner Building, and the Los Angeles' Historic Subway Terminal Building.