Dancing People Company Presents “Call Back the Sun”

This winter holiday, make sure to mark your calendars and attend Dancing People Company’s 10th Annual “Call Back The Sun” Winter Solstice Performance and Community Dance. We spoke with Robin Stiehm, founder and artistic director of Dancing People Company to learn more about their upcoming show.

Robin, thanks for speaking with us today. To begin, can you give us a little history on Dancing People?

Sure. I brought Dancing People with me when I moved to Ashland from Minnesota in 2003. We’ve been as small as 3 dancers and as large as 6, but have always provided the Rogue Valley with a refreshing look at modern dance, as good as what you would find in a large metropolitan area. The choreography we’ve shared with Ashland is physical, dramatic, nuanced, and musical and you’ll always see interesting partnering. At Dancing People, we strongly believe that dance is for everyone, so in addition to our professional company performances, we do projects that bring non-professional dancers from the community together with our dancers. Dance education is also part of our mission and we do a lot of outreach to students in the area.

We perform about 30 times a year. In January, you can find us working with high school students in Grants Pass and Central Point and performing in those communities. In April, we perform our intimate “Salon Series” right in our own studio on Oak Street. In the summer, you’ll see us in “Dance In the Park.” And of course, winter is time for “Call Back the Sun.” In other words we’re here for you, our community, all year round.

On December 19 and 20, you will put on the winter solstice performance “Call Back The Sun.” Please tell us about it.

2015 is DPC’s 10th anniversary production of “Call Back the Sun” at the Historic Ashland Armory. The show celebrates the winter solstice by bringing together a number of different local artists. We create a new and original music and dance performance each year. This year, the theme is transformation, just like the earth transforms every year as the days grow longer into spring. You’ll get a good dose of Dancing People’s dancers, and our regular audience members will be pleased to see our new dancers, Doug, Megan and Pasha for the first time, as well as the more familiar faces of Brianna, Macy and Miyk. The performance takes place in the round, with the audience in a circle that includes the small stage. In a way, they are witnesses, as the dancers proceed through the ritual of the performance. When the show ends, audience and performers dance together to continue the celebration.

What are some highlights that we can look forward to in this year’s performance?

As always, I try to bring together an eclectic mix of local artists. This year includes more collaborative pieces than ever. Karen Bolda of the Curtain Climbers has created a lovely sling solo with Daniel Sperry on cello; Marga Laube (voice), Kimberly StarKey (piano) and Daniel Sperry have created a piece to Maya Angelou’s poem “Caged Bird” that DPC dancers are performing to; Samba Heart and Soul will present a spirited Afro Brazilian dance; Crater High Color Guard will be “wind sprites;” Michal Palcewicz on violin and Cedar Miller on percussion are also creating a piece with DPC; members of steel drum group Maraval Road will put in an appearance; Tina Clark and Dancers are collaborating with Kimberly StarKey and Tom Berich and live music for the dance party following the evening shows. Wow! When I put it all in print, even I’m getting excited!

The costumes are always fun and creative. Who creates these for you guys?

So many people help to make this show possible. Costumes are mostly a group effort, with each group supplying what they need. Dancing People is very lucky to have Heather Denham, a talented young designer, working on our costumes for this year. Samba Heart and Soul uses costumes inspired by Carnival in Brazil, so they are sure to be delightfully bright. Since the show takes place in the round on the main floor of the Armory, DPC needs to bring in special lighting equipment. Bob Peterson, who works with us on our main stage productions, will be with us for “Call Back the Sun,” making sure that you can see everything and giving each piece the nuances that only beautiful lighting design can provide.

Last but not least, you will then be concluding the show with a community dance.

This is such a fun part of the event. After the performance ends, the dancers welcome the audience onto the performance area and a dance party begins. It’s a great way to celebrate the solstice and reinforces Dancing People’s philosophy that dance is for everyone. This year, because it’s our 10th anniversary year, I plan to have live music for the dance after the evening shows. I hope everyone stays for this fun part of the evening. Also new this year, Live at the Armory will be selling drinks and snacks, so there’s even more reason to stay and enjoy the party!

Robin, what inspires you to keep doing what you do?

First, it was my love of dancing. I could never get enough of it. I started at age 8 and very shortly after I was studying every day. By the time I was 14, I was apprenticing for a professional company. It literally has been my life. Now though, more than anything, I love to choreograph. This isn’t a solitary pursuit, like it is in some other art forms. Choreographing means being in a studio, sharing ideas with dancers and making something together. Where there was nothing, now there is a dance, which expresses emotion, beauty, the human experience. I try to take everything I’ve experienced in a half century of life and distill it into each dance. The creative process itself is what inspires me.

Dancing People also has a school and provides many services to the community.

Yes, our school provides classes in modern, ballet, and jazz to both children and adults; you’ll see some of our students performing in “Call Back the Sun.” Our professional company and our junior company perform in a variety of venues and events. Already this season we’ve performed for International Peace Day and a benefit for Planned Parenthood. Sometimes we do site-specific dances at private homes, or even an impromptu improvisation outside – you never know where you’ll find Dancing People.

I know many people in our community look forward to this annual event.

I grew up in the ballet tradition and danced in Nutcracker for many years. When I moved to Ashland, I thought a holiday show would be good but the traditional offerings didn’t fit. A celebration of the winter solstice seemed like the right thing and that has proven to be true. There are some who have been to every year of “Call Back the Sun,” because they like the sense of ritual coupled with celebration that we create. The winter solstice is a time to reflect on the past year, to prepare for the lengthening days that are about to begin, to embrace transformation, rebirth and joy – with Dancing People’s “Call Back the Sun,” Ashland has a chance to do that together.

When and where can we buy tickets?

Performances are at the Historic Ashland Armory, on Saturday & Sunday, December 19 & 20 at 7:30pm and Sunday, December 20 at 2pm. Tickets are available now on our website, or at the Music Coop on Main Street in Ashland. They are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Children 12 and under are $10.

Learn More:
Dancing People Company
310 Oak Street, Suite 5
Ashland OR.
97520
Check out their website
541-488-9683