Current events are weighing heavily on most people, including graduate dance students who belong to the Traveling Airs performance company at New Mexico State University.
The students are taking those weighty topics and creating art in the form of their production “Imagine.” Performances of “Imagine” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 and at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 18 and 19 at the newly renovated Rentfrow Hall, located on the southeast corner of Stewart and Williams streets on the NMSU campus. Advance tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors and $5 for children under 12 years old. At the door, tickets will be $20 for adults, $15 for students and seniors and $5 for children under 12.
“We started talking about the type of pieces we wanted to do,” said Jermey Edmondson, a graduate dance student and member of Traveling Airs. “A lot is going on in the world concerning race issues and women’s rights, which is what motivates how we form the show. We think about something that’s in our heart or on our mind and then we let the title come.”
“Imagine” will not only feature dance, but also live music and singers, including NMSU staff and faculty.
“Each of the pieces tells a story about the human experience,” said Debra Knapp, Traveling Airs director. “It’s a multigenerational performance. We will have children from a studio in El Paso led by one of our graduate students, and they’ll share their own written words about how they imagine the kind of world they want to live in,” Knapp said.
Bob Wood, head of the kinesiology and dance department at NMSU, added, “There are a couple of songs about conflict and hurt, but most of it is about the hope for world peace.”
Wood, who will be performing in “Imagine,” said he’s not only looking forward to the performance itself, but because it will be the first in the newly renovated Rentfrow Hall. In March 2015, the NMSU Board of Regents approved renovations at Rentfrow, which was built in the 1950s, but plans for the renovations began several years before.
In 2013, NMSU launched a fundraising campaign dubbed STARS, or Scientists, Teachers, Artists, Researchers and Scholars, to raise additional support for equipment and furnishings that were not included in the building renovation itself. The project, which cost about $2 million, was completed in December and includes new dance studios, restrooms and kinesiology laboratories.
“This building has been transformed to be a dance building with three studios, two of which can be converted to performance space, two labs for kinesiology professors and classroom space as well,” Knapp said.
The new Rentfrow Hall now has a modern look and feel with polished floors, a sitting area and artwork.
“You’ll be amazed when you walk in,” Woods said. “We have state of the art technology here. This performance in a way is to thank the community and invite them to participate. This is huge for the history of this program.”
Denise Rodriguez-Strawn, a graduate of the NMSU dance program who is now a faculty member in the College of Education, said seeing the new Rentfrow Hall was an emotional experience for her.
“I wanted to listen to Annie Lennox and lie down on the floor in an X,” Rodriguez-Strawn said, laughing. “I know that sounds weird, but that’s what we did a lot of when I was a student. I remember broken toes and toenails and bruises from dancing on concrete (at the Black Box Theater, where students used to perform). Now, these young men and women won’t know that pain. They’re going to have that competitive edge.”
To buy tickets for “Imagine,” contact the kinesiology department at 575-646-4067.