Sarah Ashkin ’11, Brittany Delany ’09, and Sue Roginski ’87 premiered an evening-length dance work, task, on Aug. 17–18, as part of the summer season at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, Calif., under the umbrella of GROUND SERIES dance collective. Ashkin and Delany, codirectors of GROUND SERIES since 2012, choreographed and performed the piece, with Roginski providing dramaturgical direction. As codirectors, Ashkin and Delany describe their work as “collaborating in using dance performance as a tool of embodied intervention and research.”
“With our shared background in critical thinking, cultural studies, and artistic risk-taking fostered by the Wesleyan Dance Department, we wanted to create a work that responded to the current political moment,” Delany says. “The culmination of our collaboration, task, is a confrontation of white supremacy through dance performance.” Treating the theater as a site in this work, Ashkin and Delany continued their research and presentations of site-specific performance with the new challenge to remap and reframe the stage as a racialized space.
In the aftermath of their premiere, the three reflected on the experience for the Connection:
Q: What was it like to work with other Wes grads—those you knew on campus, those from different eras. Are there some commonalities, some ways of communicating, some understanding of dance as art and dance in the world, that you all have in common?
Sarah Ashkin: I find the Wesleyan alumni network continues to be one of the most creative, boundary-pushing, careful, and intelligent communities, and I am so grateful to be a part of it. Brittany and I have been working together closely since we were undergraduates when we were both members of Professor Alejandro’s dance company Pedro Alejandro Dance and Dancers. The Wesleyan Dance Department offered us a remarkable toolkit for dance-making, which prioritizes improvisational forms, critical thinking, cultural studies, and artistic risk-taking.