Winter Solstice music, performance and dance

The weather outside may be frightful, but Dancing People Company is ready to celebrate the return of the year's longest night.

The Rogue Valley modern dance company will present "Sun Standing Still," its third annual Winter Solstice performance and community dance at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Dec. 19-21, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St., Ashland.

More than 30 dancers and musicians from the Rogue Valley will perform, including Dancing People Company (Emily Abrahams, Veronica DeWitt, Sarah Goldberg and Alonzo Moore) and a guest appearance by last year's Dancing People Company member, Heather Klopchin.

Dancers encompass a wide range of experience from students to Lizz LoPresti's Contact Improvisation community to local aerial dancers, ranging in age from 8 to 70.

Live music fills out the evening with sections accompanied by Matthew Schoening. who composes dynamic music for his electric cello through live looping and layering. By recording and layering as he plays, he creates a rich landscape that adds another level of passion to the dance.

Inger Jorgensen and Jeff Pevar join forces in Bohemian Soul to perform original material and arrangements. Local didjeridoo player Mark Langelle will accompany the Contact Improvisation dancers.

At the end of the show, those attending are invited onto the stage floor to join in a celebratory open dance to music mixed specially for the night by Ken Becker of Ashland's SpiritDance.

Dancing People Company's artistic directors Robin Stiehm and Peggy Paver started the annual event in 2006. "We wanted to create a collaborative event that local dancers could come together and create this performance that included people who are non-dancers to professional dancers and musicians," Paver said.

Stiehm and Paver orchestrate the progression of the evening's original dances and music to reflect the significance of the Winter Solstice, the shift to gradually lengthening days and shortening nights.

Stiehm and Paver state "Our Winter Solstice event has become an Ashland tradition because it offers residents and visitors an evening of great entertainment that is fun for everyone, regardless of their holiday tradition. Solstice gives our community a chance to take part in an artful, uplifting gathering during an often stressful time."

This year's performance includes dances designed to take the audience on an emotional journey evolving from quiet and peaceful to energetic movement that is filled with wild abandon.

"We wanted to create this event where we could all not only do a performance together, but work in the studio together," Paver said. This will be the first year the show was developed in Dancing People Company's own studio space at 310 Oak St. Suite No. 5, in Ashland.

"We wanted to have a place where dancers can come regardless of their ability and do what they do. In the fall we advertise a class whose intent is to put together a piece or pieces for the solstice performance."

Dancing People Company is a local, professional modern dance company that has been performing in Oregon since 2003. Co-directors Stiehm and Paver each choreograph for the company, sharing a single troupe of full-time professional dancers. DPC provides high-quality dance performances, classes, workshops and residencies "that reflect and communicate our shared human experience," the co-directors say.

All company members teach a variety of dance classes, including modern, aerial, improvisation, hip-hop and ballet in the company's studio in Ashland. DPC has performed throughout Oregon, Minnesota and at international festivals in Europe.

Reviewer Robert Head described the company as —¦truly exceptional, a modern dance company with big-city technique and small-town heart. The movement is articulate and full of strength and grace "¦ (They have) an openness of spirit and a sincerity of purpose that connect the audience to the performers and to each other."

DPC's Winter Solstice show is sponsored in part by Printfast, and supported with funds from the city of Ashland and the Oregon Arts Commission, with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 7-12. Children 6 and younger admitted free. Tickets are available at the Music Coop in Ashland, or online at

Call 488-9683.

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