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Danceworks, Company

11/14/09

Kelly Anderson

When people think of the Milwaukee dance scene, one name often comes to mind: Danceworks.  As a foundation, Danceworks has brought the medium of dance to the masses, infiltrating programs in public schools, such as Mad Hot Ballroom, outreach to senior centers, through IMAP (Intergenerational Multi-Arts Program), and opening its studio doors to dancers and non-dancers of all ages to express themselves through movement.  Yet, one key element to the survival of the institution of Danceworks is the presence of the Danceworks Performance Company (DPC). 

DPC is headed by the talented Dani Kuepper and following her lead is a company of fierce artists that continue to change the face of the Milwaukee dance scene.  I had the pleasure of speaking one on one with DPC artistic director, Dani Kuepper, to better understand DPC’s leading presence in our community.

From the DPC Production The Wide Sky is Falling! Photo Credit: Mark Frohna

Danceworks has transformed significantly over the years.  In 1997 the company began as a collective created by a group of ambitious, and freshly graduated, students from UW-Milwaukee.  Over time, many of these original members relocated or changed their career paths, but two surviving members kept this company alive: Dani Kuepper and Sarah Wilbur.  Wilbur recently relocated to Los Angeles, leaving DPC in the hands of Kuepper.  Over the past two years since Wilbur’s departure, there has been a significant and exciting shift in the DPC mission. 

Kuepper has successfully found a way to return to the roots of DPC, by restoring the collaborative spirit and offering the space for company members to share their own artistic visions.  Dani states, “Now that I am shifting the landscape, I think the other voices will rise up,” and they have.  This season will feature a collaborative concert titled “Lights, DPC, Action” premiering in February 2010.

From the DPC Production The Wide Sky is Falling! Photo Credit: Mark Frohna

Danceworks consists of eleven dancers, each coming from a different kind of dance training background.  Some company members have been classically trained, others began in a studio setting, and some started dancing as adults.  Though the thought of eleven different aesthetics seems daunting, each performer and choreographer has an individual approach that contributed to the eclectic charm of DPC.  Dani adds, “It is not important to me that people in the company look the same or dance the same.  Everyone, in my mind, is distinctive…the strength lies in the random collection of people.”

Danceworks Performance Company is now a home for many innovative young artists and this season will offer the Milwaukee audiences the opportunity to experience the fresh vision of DPC.

This season’s line up includes:

Lights, DPC…Action!
February 26th, 27th and 28th, March 5th, 6th and 7th

Monsters, Mayhem and Mac n Cheese
April 16th, 17th and 18th  

Additional information can be found here:
http://www.danceworksmke.org


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