“Ferocious Beauty: Genome” by the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, April 11-13

Science meets art in this astonishing work which explores genomics through a rare collaboration of genetic scientists and artist.

With Ferocious Beauty: Genome, choreographer Liz Lerman turns her sights on the field of Genomics, the study of the entire DNA sequence of organisms. Lerman uses the observations of actual noted and award-winning scientists, film, animated graphics, text and dance to explain the basic phenomena of genomics. The company developed the piece through collaborations with thirty-four genetic scientists and researchers from leading universities and government agencies across the country. Some of them appear onscreen and make their suggestions to the dancers of how a genome should move. Lerman gives scientists a rare chance to share their passions and play in the art sandbox.

“Science and art touch the same space inside me,” reflected Ferocious Beauty: Genome advisor Eric Jakobsson, professor of Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Illinois. “They both provide a lens, focusing on some particular part of the world. Both better be true--otherwise they are no good. Both require a lot of discipline to get at truth. And for me, seeing a subject through both the scientific and the artistic lens deepens the intensity of the pleasure and the depth of the meaning.”

“When we started to create Ferocious Beauty: Genome I realized that we had a curious challenge,” Liz Lerman explains, “which was to take a subject, genetics, and a form, modern dance, both of which are difficult to understand, and to combine them into something that would be understandable. Along the way we learned how ideas come into being when scientists ask questions, and we also saw how structure and meaning can come to artists when they rattle around in someone else’s universe.”

The character of Gregor Mendel, the 19th century priest who is considered the father Genomics is introduced early in the proceedings and acts as a moral through-line in the piece. Using a form she calls non-fiction dancing, Liz Lerman subjectively filters the mass of data on this hot button issue and entertainingly lays them out with a richly textured soundscape, while her intrepid company assumes many characters and shapes. In the process, like a good investigative reporter she raises provocative questions about the impact of Genomics and the ethics of its manipulation. How will knowledge of the genome change the way we think about aging, perfection, ancestry, and evolution? Ultimately, Lerman hopes that the mapping of the human genome, the study of the basic chemical fundamentals we all share, connects us to both the past and the future and reminds all of us of our connection to nature and the wider world.

Dr. Bonnie Bassler, noted molecular biologist at Princeton University and Liz Lerman -- both MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipients -- will be on board April 12th for a post-performance discussion. Ferocious Beauty: Genome provides a thought-provoking evening which informs and entertains us by shining a light on a fascinating and relevant issue.

For further information about Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, call Lee Woodman, Director External Relations, 301-270-6700 x11 or visit www.danceexchange.org.

Peak Performances @ Montclair has become one of the premiere dance showcases in the nation, who The New York Times has labeled as “indispensable.” In the recent past, it has commissioned and presented work by the top tier of dance artists working today, including Susan Marshall, Charlotte Vincent and Trisha Brown.

Tickets for Ferocious Beauty: Genome are only $15. To order your tickets, call the Alexander Kasser Theater Box Office at 973-655-5112 or order online at peakperfs.org.

Peak Performances @ Montclair: Every Performance, every seat $15.

WNYC is a media sponsor for the 2007/2008 Season of Peak Performances @ Montclair. Peak Performances also acknowledges the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Ferocious Beauty: Genome
Liz Lerman Dance Exchange
Thursday, April 10th, Friday, April 11th @ 7:30pm
Saturday, April 12th @ 8pm, (post-performance discussion with microbiologist Bonnie Bassler and Liz Lerman)
Sunday, April 13th at 3pm
Peak Performances @ Montclair State University
Alexander Kasser Theater
One Normal Avenue
Montclair, New Jersey
Admission: $15
973 655 5112
www.peakperfs.org

Media Contact:

Alfred R. Fredel 973.655 3004
fredela@mail.montclair.edu