Center for the Arts brings choreographer Liz Lerman to campus to engage with researchers, faculty, and students for dance-theatre project
Choreographer Liz Lerman and her team of performers and technical designers will visit the Virginia Tech campus during the last week in March to connect with researchers, faculty, and students for a series of unique engagement opportunities in conjunction with her latest dance-theatre project, “Healing Wars.” This visit is part of an ongoing research residency that began in 2012 and will continue over the next two years.
Lerman’s visit, which is sponsored by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech with support from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will culminate with a public talk by Lerman and her colleagues on March 29 at 5 p.m. in STUDIOne, the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology studio, at 460 Turner Street, on the ground floor of Collegiate Square, Blacksburg, Va.
“Healing Wars,” Lerman’s work-in-progress, is an investigation of the impact of war — from the American Civil War to contemporary conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan — on medicine, healers, and soldiers. The project explores areas such as the innovation of medicine during war, the role of the healer in conflicts, and society’s connections to warriors. Lerman and her team are seeking new ways to tell this story, highlighting the emotions and the experiences involved while representing the ongoing tension between information and feeling. As with some of her more recent work, the choreographer is exploring projections as a means of solidifying setting, action, and emotion through the use of old movies, animation, and graphics as moving images.
For the public talk, Lerman will be joined by members of her creative team, including performers Tara Pullman, a dancer who most recently worked with Dance Exchange, and her husband Bill Pullman, an actor known for his work in films such as “Independence Day,” “Wyatt Earp,” and “Torchwood,” as well as the project’s sound and media designers.
Residency activities with students in the Department of Theatre and Cinema, part of Virginia Tech’s School of Performing Arts and Cinema, will give students a glimpse into the team’s creative process, including how collaboration and rehearsals are used to further develop the work.
Ongoing conversations with clinicians, soldiers, medical historians, and doctors have provided new dimensions to Lerman’s work. While visiting campus, she will be meeting with a group of veterans from Virginia Tech to gather stories for “Healing Wars,” while helping them develop a platform for creating their own work. Lerman and her colleagues will also meet with Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, and other scientists to learn how they are researching the brain, with a specific interest in how the brain perceives differences between imagination and experience.
A choreographer, performer, writer, educator and speaker, Lerman is an artist whose dance-theatre works have been seen throughout the United States and abroad. She founded Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976 and cultivated the company's unique multigenerational ensemble into a leading force in contemporary dance until 2011, when she handed the artistic leadership of the company over to the next generation of Dance Exchange artists. Now she is pursuing new projects with fresh partnerships, beginning with a semester spent at Harvard University as an artist-in-residence.
Lerman has received numerous honors, including a 2002 MacArthur Fellows “genius grant” and a 2011 United States Artists Ford Fellowship. Her work has been commissioned by the Lincoln Center, American Dance Festival, Harvard Law School, and the Kennedy Center, among many others. Lerman attended Bennington College and Brandeis University, received her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Maryland and George Washington University, respectively.