Photo by Tom Bamberger.  Dancers have their signature apparel: tutus and toe shoes for ballet, top hat and tails for Broadway hoofers, T-shirts and Chuck Taylors for the postmodern crowd. But for Debra Loewen, artistic director of Wild Space Dance Company, the appropriate outfit might be a hard hat and steel-toed boots.  At least when […]


Photo by Tom Bamberger. 


Dancers have their signature apparel: tutus and toe shoes for ballet, top hat and tails for Broadway hoofers, T-shirts and Chuck Taylors for the postmodern crowd. But for Debra Loewen, artistic director of Wild Space Dance Company, the appropriate outfit might be a hard hat and steel-toed boots. 

At least when she’s in the early stages of planning one of her company’s site-specific dance performances, which have been a fixture on the scene for more than 25 years. Through many of those events, Loewen has drawn on her deeply felt interest in Milwaukee as a “city in progress,” bringing audiences to new or unique spaces such as the Three Bridges Park in the Menomonee Valley or the Marsupial Bridge. The latest object of her attention is Schlitz Park, the former brewery site where recent redevelopment has created a space in which past and future meet.

Loewen warns me the Schlitz Park Stock-House, where her company will perform Brew City Dreams this month, is a raw site. The lower floors have been renovated and leased, the three upper floors are still mostly skeletal – bare concrete and exposed ducts.


“I’ve been watching the progress for a while,” says Loewen. “I can’t walk around because it’s a hard-hat area, but I go to the top of the Manpower parking garage next door to watch.”

As she watches, she’s also imagining the elements of Brew City Dreams – not just the dancers’ movements – but the audience’s as well. 

“I like to explore something that’s fairly new, and help you look at it with new eyes,” she explains. “And when you bring an audience to a place, it’s critical for me to choreograph them. Where are they going to park? How will we get them to their seats?”

To this end, she’s full of aesthetic and practical questions and ideas.

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Walking through the space, Loewen keeps an eye out for places to plug in performance lighting, and pays attention to the rough and dusty concrete floor, which will have to be cleaned up. She has spaces in mind where she might locate parts of the dance (often, she moves her audiences around the space for different parts of the concert). 

But these details don’t detract from the thrill in her voice when she takes it all in. We stand at one end of the vast sixth-floor room, a grid of raw columns stretching away from us in perfect Renaissance perspective, the large windows offer stirring views of Milwaukee’s Downtown skyline. And you can see Loewen’s creative wheels are turning, imagining the different ways that dance, history and the city will come together in surprising and memorable ways.

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Photo by Tom Bamberger.  Dancers have their signature apparel: tutus and toe shoes for ballet, top hat and tails for Broadway hoofers, T-shirts and Chuck Taylors for the postmodern crowd. But for Debra Loewen, artistic director of Wild Space Dance Company, the appropriate outfit might be a hard hat and steel-toed boots.  At least when […]


Photo by Tom Bamberger. 


Dancers have their signature apparel: tutus and toe shoes for ballet, top hat and tails for Broadway hoofers, T-shirts and Chuck Taylors for the postmodern crowd. But for Debra Loewen, artistic director of Wild Space Dance Company, the appropriate outfit might be a hard hat and steel-toed boots. 

At least when she’s in the early stages of planning one of her company’s site-specific dance performances, which have been a fixture on the scene for more than 25 years. Through many of those events, Loewen has drawn on her deeply felt interest in Milwaukee as a “city in progress,” bringing audiences to new or unique spaces such as the Three Bridges Park in the Menomonee Valley or the Marsupial Bridge. The latest object of her attention is Schlitz Park, the former brewery site where recent redevelopment has created a space in which past and future meet.

Loewen warns me the Schlitz Park Stock-House, where her company will perform Brew City Dreams this month, is a raw site. The lower floors have been renovated and leased, the three upper floors are still mostly skeletal – bare concrete and exposed ducts.


“I’ve been watching the progress for a while,” says Loewen. “I can’t walk around because it’s a hard-hat area, but I go to the top of the Manpower parking garage next door to watch.”

As she watches, she’s also imagining the elements of Brew City Dreams – not just the dancers’ movements – but the audience’s as well. 

“I like to explore something that’s fairly new, and help you look at it with new eyes,” she explains. “And when you bring an audience to a place, it’s critical for me to choreograph them. Where are they going to park? How will we get them to their seats?”

To this end, she’s full of aesthetic and practical questions and ideas.

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Walking through the space, Loewen keeps an eye out for places to plug in performance lighting, and pays attention to the rough and dusty concrete floor, which will have to be cleaned up. She has spaces in mind where she might locate parts of the dance (often, she moves her audiences around the space for different parts of the concert). 

But these details don’t detract from the thrill in her voice when she takes it all in. We stand at one end of the vast sixth-floor room, a grid of raw columns stretching away from us in perfect Renaissance perspective, the large windows offer stirring views of Milwaukee’s Downtown skyline. And you can see Loewen’s creative wheels are turning, imagining the different ways that dance, history and the city will come together in surprising and memorable ways.

Comments

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