School of Dance students Pair Up with Artist David Habben to Visualize Movement

March 16 2017

This year, the School of Dance has had the inspiring opportunity to welcome Art and Art History MFA Student David Habben, into the dance studios for a unique collaboration. Illustrator and fine artist in the Art Department, Habben’s works created with and inspired by the dancers over the past year, will be on display 3/20 – 3/28 in the Alvin Gittins Gallery, located in the Art & Art History Building.

The project began when Habben was introduced to Professor Brent Schneider in the Modern Dance Program by one of his faculty advisors. Schneider invited Habben to visit the School of Dance’s technique classes to see what would come of it, and with the particular support of Schneider, Visiting Assistant Professor Daniel Clifton, and musicians Wayne Coons and Michael Wall, a rich collaborative process began.

“As an illustrator, my initial reaction is always to draw something, but the movement of the dancers was so powerful, I felt the need to try a different approach. The brush and ink work started as an experiment and evolved into something that both I and the dancers were able to find a connection in.”

Habben describes his work with the dancers as a documentation of movement through illustrative impressionistic drawings. Using ink and a variety of brushes, Habben is “intent on capturing the subtleties of motion that the dancers utilize to form their compositions. The idea centers around seeing ourselves through other people's eyes, communicating more effectively, and also bringing our unique voices to more productive dialogue.”

At his show, observers will have the opportunity to see nearly 50 works created in the dance studios, including one large piece that stands 8ft tall by over 20ft long. This larger work was created by the dancers themselves during the course of a technique class, the dancers responding to their classmates’ movements and to the energy still resonating within them as they stepped off the dance floor to transition to painting. Visitors to the gallery will also hear a recording of the sounds of the dance studio during that particular collaboration, bringing them multi-texturally into the unique experience of that class.

Reflecting back on his experience, Habben shares that he didn’t have any expectations going into the process and believes that “that's one of the reasons it has been so rewarding. To walk into those studios as an outsider and end up becoming so involved with the faculty and students was an amazing opportunity. I've been able to learn so many things, but I particularly felt a renewed sense of the power of personal expression and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to new experiences. As part of the process, I was actually able to take a class myself and learn firsthand the effort, focus, and endurance that are required of these dancers. Their talent and enthusiasm was truly inspiring.”

“Be Somewhere” by David Habben runs 3/20 -3/28 in the Alvin Gittins Gallery, Art & Art History Bldg. Artist Talk 3/24 at 5PM in Rm 158 with a reception from 6-9PM.