Project: Motion ‘Blooms’ in Finale


Visual arts frequently recycle junk into amazing works, but these days even dance can go green.

Sarah Ledbetter dances for Project: Motion, which will stage its season finale, “Bloom: A Landscape of New Dances,” at the Evergreen Theatre on the weekends of May 18-20 and May 25-27.

(Photo: Courtesy of Amber Reagan)

Project: Motion, Memphis’ modern dance collective, concludes its 25th anniversary season in May with dance works set around the many varied themes of “green.”

“Bloom: A Landscape of New Dances,” which features seven new works by collective members and two guest artists, runs at the Evergreen Theatre for two weekends, May 18-20 and May 25-27.

“We titled the show ‘Bloom’ this year because the artists are all drawing from ideas that are green or green spaces or the idea of the blooming process,” said Jay Rapp, artistic director of Project: Motion, and a 23-year member of the collective.

To that end, specific green spaces in Memphis, the quirks of consumerism, the growth processes of plants and even games played outdoors are all on the table.

Typically, Project: Motion saves its May performance for works set by their own members, though two guests have set works in this concert as well.

For one, assistant artistic director Emily Hefley choreographed an untitled solo work, to be performed by dancer Ondine Geary, which describes the growth process of the Vollintine-Evergreen Greenline trail throughout the four seasons of the year.

“She’s drawing inspiration completely from the Vollintine-Evergreen Greenline,” Rapp said. “She’s also documented the process (of growth) through photographs of how the greenline changes through the season.”

Rapp and Hefley both live in the neighborhood and have become fond of the greenline, which became the basis for the concert’s green theme. Hefley and Geary began choreographing the piece by actually walking it.

Chicago choreographer Peter Carpenter is returning to Memphis after having choreographed a piece for Project; Motion’s AXIS concert two years ago. His idea of green involves the green of paper money and its effect on people.

Set to a soundscape of electronic and percussive tones, the piece, which calls for five dancers, uses money onstage in a humorous manner.

“His piece is about the idea of green as in money,” Rapp said. “The dancers use money as a prop in this piece. It’s in their mouths, for example. There’s a lot of interesting uses with it.

“It can be disturbing, it’s just how you look at the work. It’s quirky and provocative.”

The largest of the works, Louisa Koeppel’s “Playing Through” calls for seven dancers performing to Haydn in what Rapp called a playful yet competitive game.

“It kind of has the feel of croquet or a polo match,” Rapp said. “There’s an upscale feel to it, but there’s also this down and dirty rivalry. It’s definitely like a civilized competition going on in this piece. Every time I see it, I feel like it takes place on a manicured large green lawn.”

Koeppel, another 20-year member of the collective, has worked in similar themes before, but reworked the piece completely to fit the theme of this year’s concert and the shape of Evergeeen’s stage, which is smaller than that of TheatreWorks where the group performed until 2010.

“It’s a different space,” Rapp said. “It’s deeper from the front to back wall, but it’s narrower in its width. It’s still very intimate, but it feels a little larger when you’re watching because the audience sits at eye level rather than looking down.”

At TheatreWorks, the audience is elevated over the stage by risers.

“(At Evergreen) you’ve got to have a lot of exits and entrances in your pieces,” said Rapp, noting that the group has staged dances with as many as 10 people.

The entire performance will last about one hour and 20 minutes.

Tickets for “Bloom” are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and college students, and can be purchased at or at the door. Shows run Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.