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PSS Spring '11

Three's (Not) A Crowd

PHOTO BY KEVIN COLTON

Partnership of HWS dancers leads to collaborative trio

by Kathryn Bowering '11 and Sarah Tompkins '10

In "Third Wheel," Professor Donna Davenport, Associate Professor Michelle Iklé and Jeanne Schickler Compisi '96 find themselves in a state of perpetual compromise. The dance —originally choreographed as a duet—is a carefully balanced study of movement, music, intent and partnership among three choreographers simultaneously leading and following.

"Negotiation in collaboration is a dialogue, not an argument," explains Iklé. "True partnerships work when each partner is present, when there is room for growth and change."

With each rehearsal, the choreographers quickly learned that creative differences can transform, present new ways to investigate and express an idea, and open minds to create freer expression.

"When there is trust and deep mutual regard, negotiation doesn't feel like compromise," echoes Davenport. "It becomes about being in the moment, caring and making art."

Davenport relishes this cooperative evolution and sees the time spent responding to and learning from her dance partners as the escalation of art. An ideal collaboration results in a performance that transcends any expression one dancer can achieve individually.

By title alone, "Third Wheel" seems to suggest that trios cannot coexist in the real or dance worlds; however, when Davenport, Iklé and Schickler-Compisi give and take in their powerful performance, it is clear that three is far from a crowd —it is a magical number.

"When we began to dance, it was like having a comfortable conversation with an old friend," says Schickler Compisi. "I felt myself exhale—we finally had the ideal partnership."