CHAOTIC HARMONY CELEBRATES ARTIST GWEN FROSTIC WITH DANCE!
Traverse City, MI (and region). August 4, 2011—“Chaotic Harmony,” an original theatrical dance production, celebrates the legacy of Gwen Frostic, regional artist and cultural icon. “Chaotic Harmony,” titled after one of her eighteen books, renders a fresh dance-based interpretation of Frostic’s work by choreographer and director, Gretchen Eichberger and writer Anne-Marie Oomen. The production will premier as a gift to the community, August 27, 7:30, and August 28, 3:00 at the Meeting House of the Congregational Summer Assembly in Frankfort.
“We decided to use her words and her art as springboard for new thinking and moving, for something entirely different, for something that would free her message from the shadows—which would let her fly,” says Eichberger, who directed Martha Graham’s “American Document” last year.
In creating Chaotic Harmony, Eichberger and Oomen hope to draw attention to Frostic’s essential work and to build consciousness about her book-length meditations on nature—the last one published when she was 91. The collaborators will extend Frostic’s concepts through dance and spoken word, making three dimensional her role as an environmental artist who crossed the borders between the romantic and the rational.
“In this age of environmental threat, her words take on new resonance. In this age of simplified vocabulary, her diction holds a unique literary value. In this age when we could so easily forget the women who have made a difference aesthetically and culturally in our own region, Gwen is a model we need to rediscover,” Oomen says of Frostic.
To that end, Eichberger’s choreography will reflect the great gestures of Frostic’s images through movement influenced by wabi-sabi and butoh dance traditions. Dancing with her are well-known regional dancers Hughthir White, Jamaica Weston, Denise Sica, and Cornelia Dhasaleer. Original music by the nationally recognized trio, “Breathe, Owl, Breathe” will echo the ecosystems that fed Frostic’s writing and philosophy, and include field recordings from her home and studio in Benzonia (where she lived and wrote and made her art). Bill Allen, collaborative artist and sculptor, developed the art piece for the set. The multi-voiced spoken text, adapted by Oomen and read by Holly Wren Spaulding, Jennifer Sperry Steinorth, Bill Smith and Tim Joseph, highlights key excerpts from Frostic’s books. Oomen said of the choral text, “Frostic’s meditations are challenging. We combed her books carefully to lift passages not only relevant to her themes but to today’s audience.”
This year is the tenth anniversary of Gwen Frostic’s death. On Gwen Frostic Day this spring, former Governor Milliken, an advocate of arts and environment, stated about the project, “What a wonderful tribute to Gwen and her artistic legacy. Nothing could be more appropriate than Chaotic Harmony, a heartfelt act of innovation inspired by her words and art.” The project has also garnered support from Gwen Frostic Prints, where Greg and Kim Forshee, proprietors, operate the Benzonia-based Frostic studio, and from the nonprofit sponsor, ISLAND, (Institute of Sustainable Living, Art and Design). A preview of the dances at EMU’s Jean Parson’s Art Center in Lake Ann, gathered generous donations in support the project.
Eichberger gratefully noted: “We need community support for this kind of artistic development, and to help place Gwen on the continuum of artists and environmental writers who evolved around the time of Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold and others. Chaotic Harmony will reflect both the arc of her artistic development and her ecological philosophy in an artistic, interdisciplinary, multi-faceted performance. Though we can never know, we hope this innovation would please her, and bring her back to the community in an exciting new way.”
Chaotic Harmony will be performed on August 27, 7:30, and August 28, 3:00 at the Meeting ousel of the Congregational Summer Assembly two miles north of Frankfort on M-22. The performances are a free to the public and donations will be encouraged. For information contact, check website www.ARTmeetsEARTH or contact Gretchen Eichberger at 231-399-0099.