Of Moving Colors presents a program choreographed by community leaders

Last August, Of Moving Colors (OMC) director Garland Goodwin Wilson began making a series of unexpected phone calls.

She called up Davis Rhorer, executive director of Downtown Development District. She phoned Our Lady of the Lake Foundation executive director Kelly Hurtado. She dialed business leaders, architects, publishers, tech insiders and community figures until she got a “yes” from a dozen of them.

The question Wilson posed to each one was the same: Would they choreograph a piece for her contemporary dance company?

“Their initial reactions were so different,” Wilson says. “One of our most creative individuals said, ‘Garland, I don’t know anything about choreography. There’s no way that I can do this.’ And I said, ‘Absolutely, we’re going to guide you through it.’ And then another one of the choreographers said that he had a dream that he was doing this three years ago!”

The pieces by each choreographer fit together into “You Tell Me,” a surprising and fresh event made in collaboration with OMC dancers and community voices.

It’s an exercise in discovery, Wilson says—a dozen unique perspectives presented through “art created by non-artists.”

“[The choreographers] were completely ready to embrace it and passionate about what they wanted to say. Some of the choreographers are representing their work, and others are representing something a little more personal. So the perspectives are really coming from all different directions, and that’s inspiring for me,” Wilson says.

Of course, for choreographers who’d never had dance training, a bit of assistance was required. Wilson and the OMC dancers worked with the choreographers to figure out the translation of their messages in relatively short pieces.

Some cases are specific, like telling the story of a person’s life with duets to represent personal encounters and ensemble numbers for crowds. Some are layered, using dance to convey an individual’s life experience, which in turn represents the concept of bringing the community together. And some are simply outlandish, like the idea that came to Digital FX’s David Coner in a dream: a dance party in an outer space cocktail bar.

“They’re giving me their vision and their images and their concepts and design qualities, and we’re translating that into movement … Just as every choreographer brings their whole person to creating a work, I’m trying to facilitate that from these choreographers,” Wilson says.

The program aims to share a message of progress within the community, to introduce new, local perspectives into the arts and to break down barriers between different types of creativity.

Because, according to Wilson and Of Moving Colors, there’s no wrong road to art.

Community choreographers
Paul Arrigo, Visit Baton Rouge
Norman Chenevert, Chenevert Architects
David Coner, Digital FX
Ann Connelly, Ann Connelly Fine Art
Ashley Fox-Smith, Country Roads Magazine
Dima Ghawi, Dima Ghawi LLC
Gwen Hamilton, EBR Redevelopment Authority
Kelly Hurtado, Our Lady of the Lake Foundation
Heather Kleinpeter, Burns & Co.
John Miller, Lamar Advertising
Davis Rhorer, Downtown Development District
Torrence and Thurman Thomas, ASKTHETHOMASBROS

“You Tell Me”
Performances take the stage at the Manship Theatre April 22 and 23. ofmovingcolors.org