“Not About Iraq,” a dance by the Victoria Marks Performance Company, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, in Murchison Lane Auditorium at Sweet Briar College.
Marks, a professor of choreography in UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures, will be joined onstage by six dancers, including two from the Sweet Briar community, junior Emily Brown and dance professor Mark Magruder. Junior Nikki Pham will serve as understudy.
“We’re excited about being fortified by some of your own fabulous dance artists,” Marks said in an e-mail to the college relations office.
Marks says her production does not offer any “political treatise.” She does, however, admit that what’s going on in Iraq permeates everything. “The title suggests that nothing we can do is independent from our thinking about what occurs in Iraq,” she said.
“How can we sequester ourselves away from the war? It is present in all that we do. President George Bush suggested we go shopping after 9/11. When we are shopping, we are participating in the larger eco-system of war or occupation in Iraq. It is not about Iraq, the piece. But nothing is not about Iraq.”
Described by the L.A. Times as a “spoiler, a troublemaker [and] a true subversive,” Marks says “Not About Iraq” grew out of a question she has asked herself since 2002: “What is my civic responsibility as an artist?”
“Through a set of poetics only accessible through dance, these pieces question the place of the body in matters of heroics, valor and truth,” Marks writes in her artist’s statement. “As much as these works are about being a citizen and an artist, they are efforts to find ways that dancing can conjure meaning and speak about our experience.
“I am always having an argument with dancing, and simultaneously longing to love it more. So these pieces are reconciliations, working to understand what dancing can and cannot do in my hands. They are pieces about dancing, about the body and the mind, and the way dancing strikes metaphors about vitality, impermanence, beginnings and endings.”
The production’s title pays homage to Neil Greenberg’s “Not About AIDS Dance,” a piece which Marks says, “proposes that dance cannot be viewed apart from the HIV/AIDS pandemic.”
Tickets for “Not About Iraq” go on sale Monday, Sept. 3. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for students 12 and older, and free for children younger than 12. For reservations, call 381-6120 or email@example.com.
Marks also will conduct a master class at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, in Dance Studio I at Babcock Fine Arts Center. That evening at 7 p.m., Marks will show two of her short dance films, “Men” and “Touch.” The films will be shown in the Dance Wing of Babcock.
The master class and films are open to the public and admission is free.
The performance is made possible by a grant from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program.
“Not About Iraq” is the first event in Sweet Briar’s 2007-08 Babcock Season. Future shows include “Henry V,” performed Jan. 19, 2008 by the American Shakespeare Center on Tour, and the Dutch a cappella group “Quink” on Feb. 3, 2008.
— Suzanne Ramsey