ELY – Packed houses filled the Vermilion Community College Fine Arts Theatre last weekend for “Looking Skyward,” a multimedia production, featuring dance, live music, poetry, photos, videos and …
ELY – Packed houses filled the Vermilion Community College Fine Arts Theatre last weekend for “Looking Skyward,” a multimedia production, featuring dance, live music, poetry, photos, videos and art.
Surrounding the theme of “sky,” the four sold-out performances took audiences through a dramatic experience that began with early morning light, continued through the day, into the night, and back to dawn again.
Presented by Ely’s Reflections Dance Company under the direction of Molly Olson, the showcase featured more than 40 dancers in 17 different dance pieces, ages five through adult, who presented their talents including ballet, contemporary, tap, and acro dance pieces (tumbling and partner tricks).
Local musicians Joey Kenig, Irene Hartfield, Jef Cerniak, Andy Messerschmidt, Sarah Mason, Alan Phillips, Mandy Fassett, Raif Olson, Keiko Williams and former Ely resident Zack Baltich, along with several others, shared their talents as part of the performance.
Singers in the choir included Mason, Maria Paschke, Cora Martorelli, Karin Schmidt, Todd Crego, David Wigdahl and Greg Mann.
Photographs from Heidi Pinkerton and videos from Simon Stouffer and others, presented a visual backdrop for the show. Tim Stouffer read his poetry live during the show. An art exhibit in the lobby displayed pieces related to the sky theme.
A new concept this year featured live performance art by Dafne Caruso who was on stage during one of the songs creating a live painting while being inspired by the music.
The show was dedicated to Joey’s daughter, Zane Kenig and her love of dance. According to Olson, Kenig was born in Ely in 1994 and died in 2016 after struggling with anorexia for many years,
“While she traveled to many places in pursuit of her dream of dancing, Ely was her home. It would be a mistake to think of Zane only in terms of dance,” Olson said. “She was an artist who expressed herself in many different ways. Zane loved life and people. She was constantly rediscovering the world.”
The Reflections Dance Company looked to honor Zane’s love of dance and her memory, Olson said. “’Looking Skyward’ is one way of connecting with Zane’s spirit. Another way, and this is what Zane suggested before she died, is to go to a playground and swing on the swings there. She will always be with you when you swing.”
The event was made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, thanks to appropriations from the Minnesota State Legislature’s general and arts and cultural heritage funds as well as a grant from the Donald G. Gardner Humanities Trust.