New year, new dances, why not a new way for audiences to look at those dances? That's what Sharir+Bustamante Danceworks figured for its first production of 2006. The accomplished modern dance company regularly uses its January concert to show off fresh works by various choreographers, but at the performances last weekend it also gave those in attendance the opportunity to question the dances' creators about the works, to find out how the movements of a piece were developed, why certain choices were made in the choreography or design, or even what certain movements meant. After each of the four works in Danceworks Laboratory, the lights came up, someone grabbed a microphone, and questions were asked. On Friday, we learned about the challenges that S+B Artistic Director José Luis Bustamante faced transferring "Court Dance," the fanciful, charming site-specific work he created for First Night Austin, from the spacious, visually busy lobby of Frost Bank Tower to the smaller, bare stage of UT's McCullough Theatre. After watching her absorbing solo "Hall Spirits," we were introduced to Toshiko Namioka, a Japanese modern dance choreographer and performer who has recently moved to Austin, and learned that the intention for a dance always comes first, and her movements arise from that. Following "Sola," a piece developed during a residency with Delfos Danza Contemporanea in Mazatlan, Mexico, dancer Andee Scott revealed that poems about silence were key in inspiring choreographer Claudia Lavista and her, and that costumer Amy Burrell built the sumptuous and elegant blouse she wore out of a table runner. The informality was infectious, the conversations illuminating. They took nothing away from the artistry or mystery of the works, but they enhanced our appreciation of the artists and their process. And it made this audience member all the more eager to see these works again.
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