Jenkins and collaborators immerse the audience in ‘Toward 45’

San Francisco Chronicle
By Claudia Bauer
May 18, 2018

There are work-in-progress showings, and then there is Margaret Jenkins Dance Company’s “Toward 45.” Technically, it’s a casual salon where celebrated choreographer Jenkins, her 10 dancers and longtime collaborators like musician Paul Dresher and poet Michael Palmer can share ideas they’re developing for a celebratory performance next season, the company’s 45th anniversary.

In reality, “Toward 45,” which opened a three-night stand at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance on Thursday, May 17, is a fully realized, up-close immersion in music, poetry, contemporary dance and theater.

It’s also the first time all of the collaborators — Jenkins, Palmer, Dresher, theater artist Rinde Eckert and scenic and lighting designer Alexander V. Nichols — have worked on the same piece since “The Gates (Far Away Near)” in 1993, though they’ve collaborated in smaller configurations in the interim.

Maine rivers don’t just flood, they inspire art

BDN Maine
April 18, 2017

Patty Wight | Maine Public Visiting artist Rinde Eckert (right) works with students during a rehearsal.

Patty Wight | Maine Public
Visiting artist Rinde Eckert (right) works with students during a rehearsal.

Students of theater, music, and art at the University of Southern Maine may share similar areas of creative interest, but they tend to focus on their own media. In the past few months, that’s changed.

The students have been collaborating on a theater production that explores how Maine’s waterways have shaped its history. The show, “Molded by the Flow,” opens Friday in Lewiston.

The name not only reflects the content of the show, it’s also a metaphor for how it was created. It’s what’s called devised theatre, where producers toss aside the typical predetermined script and instead form a show from improvisation and collaboration.

It’s an approach that senior Cameron Prescott, a major in music performance, was not used to.

“I was very, uh, apprehensive about the whole thing. As a performer, I like everything under control and prepared. It took me time to realize that this isn’t that,” he says.

Two visiting artists, Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert, guided the students in creating the show, which is described as a “poetic, visual, and musical narrative” that explores the relationship between Maine’s waterways and its history. Eckert says it’s about how streams shaped the landscape and formed rivers, the power of which was harnessed by mills, and how that water flowed out to the ocean, which has its own power, and created centers of culture and community through its ports.