Durham’s 21c Museum Hotel is known for its displays of art. But on Easter Sunday and Monday, some art will be of the moving variety when The Department of Improvised Dance performs Matthew Young’s new work, “Set and Setting,” as part of Durham Independent Dance Artists’ third season.
This hourlong structured improvisation features six dancers, including Young, a Durham native, and live, new music by 12 members of the Durham-based D-Town Brass, described as a “jungle-jazz-funk-orchestra.”
Young used his carpentry skills to build the sculptural set. (His website is www.dancingcarpenter.com). This set consists of brightly colored boxes — dancers will perform on some — while other boxes, along with a sculptural tree, will provide background.
“For this piece, I wanted every possible element to be something made specifically for it so that we can create as much of a unique reality as possible for one hour, perhaps as a rejection and a response to the realities that we don’t have as much control over these days,” Young said in an email interview.
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When asked what he meant by “today’s realities,” Young said, “Trump. The most disturbing thing to me is the general disregard and lack of empathy for vulnerable people.”
Young, who lives in Durham, discovered improvisation in 2002 when he moved to Austin, Texas, and was looking for a way into the dance scene there. “At the time, I realized that improvisation was something that was deeply intuitive for me and that my body and brain were far better tuned for improvisation than for choreography,” he said.
“As a dancer, I’m particularly interested in how movement is constrained by the pressure to appear normal. I have had a number of deeply transcendent experiences while improvising, all of which made clear to me that we are much more animalistic than we are allowed to be,” Young said.
Improvisation has helped him in other ways.
“Moving in less restricted and unprescribed ways has opened my mind and body, and I can’t help but extrapolate that that would be of great benefit to people generally,” he added.
GO & DO
WHAT: The Department of Improvised Dance premiers “Set and Setting”
WHEN: 5 p.m., 7 p.m. Sunday; 7 p.m. Monday
WHERE: 21c Museum Hotel, 111 N. Corcoran St., Durham
TICKETS: $10-$20 at the door