Arctic Spring-Arctic Matters: A Smithsonian Festival of the North

Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 6:30pm
The Baird Auditorium
Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History


The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History will host an educational weekend event celebrating Arctic peoples, cultures, and science. The event coincides with the launch of the United States’ 2015-2017 chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the international governmental body coordinating Arctic policy. Arctic Spring will feature educational programs including a symposium, science displays and interactives, family events, artifacts and art, cultural and musical performances, and films.

Arctic Spring features Time Lapse Dance at The Baird Auditorium on Saturday, May 9 at 6:30pm in a workshop performance and discussion. In the program, choreographer Jody Sperling and composer Matthew Burtner, share their experiences in the Arctic and offer a preview performance of their new work-in-progress about the dynamism and fragility of the Arctic ice-scape. Choreographer and composer both share a passion for ice and with their work aim to bring its many phases and transformations to life through movement and music. The Uummanaq Greenland Youth Ensemble will open the performance.

Sperling first encountered sea ice on her trailblazing journey to the Arctic as the first­-ever choreographer­-in-­residence aboard a US Coast Guard icebreaker. Accompanying a 43­-day science mission to the Chukchi Sea, north of the Bering Strait, Sperling danced on the polar ice sheet a dozen times. Burtner, a specialist in concert chamber music and interactive new media, has composed many works that explore the unique acoustical environment of the Arctic. Burtner spent his childhood in the far north of Alaska and is the leading expert on the eco­acoustics of snow and ice, and has worked extensively with systems of climatology applied to music.

Ice Cycle, to be danced by Sperling’s ensemble of five women­­, with Burtner performing his music live­­, utilizes expansive costumes that allow the dancers a range of transformations in suggesting ice topography. Sperling’s dance style can been seen as “kinetic sculpture” for the way that it distills energetic forces into visual forms. For this project, music and dance crystalize in forms conjuring the expansive grandeur of the Arctic.