Harvard Dancers to Showcase Semester's Progress

Pieces to be performed March 28-30 at 8 p.m.

Choreographing new dance pieces is important both as a means of dance education and a way of furthering the conversation about what dance is and can be. The Harvard Dance Program achieves these goals through classes for Harvard students.

This weekend, student dancers who were chosen through auditions will perform three original pieces at the Dance Program Spring Performance. Two of these are commissioned works by guest choreographers Pontus Lidberg and Andrea Miller. These works are the most recent of 11 new works the Dance Program has commissioned over the last two years. A third piece was created by Jill Johnson, Senior Lectuer on Music and Director of Dance, in collaboration with the students in her class “Master Work: The Choreographic Process of William Forsythe.”


“It’s a different process for students to learn about dance through making their own work and having work made for them, as opposed to doing repertory pieces,” Johnson says. “It’s a different kind of engagement in dance making and understanding.” Inviting guest artists to choreograph works [with] Harvard students gives [the students] this experience and exposes them to the differing approaches of players in the today’s dance world.

The piece from Johnson’s class, called “Dog in a Sweater,” was created by close examination of the entire choreographic process, from conception to performance, of one work by acclaimed choreographer William Forsythe. It took under consideration the ideas and tenets of that process. “Each year [the class] renders a different piece. This year we’re really focusing on the development of themes and what themes can look like,” Johnson says.

Johnson has worked previously with both Lindberg and Miller. Lindberg is both a choreographer and a dance filmmaker, which according to Johnson is a rare combination. “What he brings as a dancer to filmmaking is a really wonderful perspective that I was very interested in exposing students to,” she says. Miller was once herself a student of Johnson’s. “I really like her [artistic] voice as well and wanted to expose students to these two diverse voices in the field,” Johnson says.

According to Johnson, the intention of the performance is for the audience to be struck by key moments that resonate with them in unexpected ways. “Dance isn’t necessarily about understanding one version of what’s presented; there isn’t only one story. You can come to the theater and have it be a break from our hyper-digitized work day and see what it looks like when the body is thinking,” Johnson says. “Dance is about articulating things for which there are no words.”

—Staff writer Rebecca J. Mazur can be reached at

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: April 1, 2013

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of guest choreographer Pontus Lidberg.


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