August 19, 2008

Group Supports Work of Emerging Artists


Christine Kiernan moved to Greensboro in 2002 to pursue a master of fine arts degree in performance and choreography at UNCG . A modern dancer and choreographer, she has performed with groups such as the Power Company and John Gamble Dance Theater , and her choreography has been seen in events such as the Greensboro Fringe Festival .

Kiernan also teaches at the Durham School of the Arts , but her passion is dancing, choreography and producing.

She says, though, that for an artist like her, life is sometimes difficult.

"There's so many artists who stay in this area after school, but there's just not a lot of opportunities to show work and produce new work," Kiernan said.

Kiernan and fellow dancer Renee Heagney decided they wanted to make things a bit easier for other budding artists and in February formed Shape Shifters , an organization to support the work of emerging contemporary artists through production, education and networking opportunities.

The organization is sponsored by City Arts , a division of Greensboro Parks and Recreation.

Shape Shifters will hold a kick-off event, "move ... or be moved!" from noon to 4:15 p.m. Aug. 24 on the stage in Festival Park in downtown Greensboro. The first event at noon is an improvisational performance for dancers, photographers, musicians and other artists.

"It's basically an open improv," Kiernan said. "You can show up and participate if you feel moved to do so or just watch." Those interested in participating are asked to arrive at 11:30 a.m.

Following the improvisational performance, participants may experience a taste of Shape Shifters monthly meetings. Todd Fisher of Informall Theater Company will lead a Viewpoints improvisation class in studio 317 of the Greensboro Cultural Center, and at 3 p.m. a choreographers workshop will be held in the same place .

All events are free, with a $5 donation suggested for the Viewpoints class . The Improv Class and Choreographers Workshop are geared toward high school through professional levels.

Shape Shifters regularly holds the improv class and choreographers workshop the fourth Sunday of each month at the Greensboro Cultural Center, 200 N. Davie St . in Greensboro.

The fee to join Shape Shifters is $20 for an artist membership and $10 for a student membership . Annual dues include access to a members-only resource directory, access to educational, special events and choreographic workshops, participation in monthly improv classes and jams and access to open studio space at the Greensboro Cultural Center.

Participants also have the opportunity to show their work in Shape Shifters-produced concerts and events.

In addition to any independently produced concerts/showings by individual choreographers, Shape Shifters will produce two full- length concerts annually. Interested choreographers will have the opportunity to work with community groups to create collaborative movement pieces to be performed in the community.

The drop-in fee for nonmembers is $5 to attend an improve class and $10 to attend a master class .

Kiernan is excited about what the future holds for Shape Shifters.

"We want this to grow into what the community of artists in this area need," Kiernan said. "We want to be able to shift and change to support them."

Contact Jennifer Atkins Brown at 574-5582 or [email protected]

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