"It is AMAZING to have access to a dance company where I 'grew up' as an artist, first learning a body of works then later teaching, choreographing, and performing," says dancer, choreographer, and University of Memphis professor Wayne Smith. "As I have matured as a performing artist developing my own voice, I find Project: Motion has been a life partner in my artistic journey," he says of the Memphis troupe that has become a modern dance institution.
For nearly three decades, Smith has excited local dance enthusiasts with his sophisticated blend of dance and theater utilizing music, text, and projections. His latest offering, a SmithWorks project presented by Project: Motion, is called Identity Matrix: Works & RE-Works. It finds Smith working by himself and collaborating with old friends to revive and re-imagine older works and to create new choreography. Much of the work asks "the audience to play a collaborative role in the performances" by inviting viewers to answer questions asked by the dancers on stage.
"I am generally inspired by the performers I collaborate with," Smith says. He'll be joined on stage by a variety of artists, including U of M faculty member Holly Lau, the dancers from Project: Motion, and Jhon R. Stronks of Houston, Texas, a dancer who uses whimsical imagery to delve into social and political themes.
"I typically start with varied, preconceived concepts or I approach it as a springboard, then let art happen," Smith says of his process, which mixes choreography and improvisation in equal measure. "I try to find ways to engage an audience in ways that they feel part of the performance."
"Identity Matrix: Works & RE-Works," Friday-Saturday, February 20th-21st, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, February 22nd, at 2 p.m. at TheatreWorks. Tickets are $20.