Some of a Thousand Words

Brian Brooks & Wendy Whelan in FIRST FALL by Brian Brooks Photo by Christopher Duggan
Brian Brooks & Wendy Whelan in FIRST FALL by Brian Brooks
Photo by Christopher Duggan

Year: 2016-2017
DanceForce Member: D. Chase Angier
Artists: Brian Brooks, Wendy Whelan
Community Partner: Alfred University
Audience:  681
County: Allegany

The relationship between Brian Brooks and Alfred University began in 2004, when D. Chase Angier, AU’s Dance Program Director and Artistic Director of The Miller Dance Residency Program, decided to commit a portion of the budget to the long-term development of particular artists, Mr. Brooks being the first. Alfred has been a home base for Mr. Brooks, and he has often expressed how important this has been to his creative development.

Brian Brooks has come to Alfred University as an individual artist, has performed three evening length works – dance-o-matic, Piñata, and Motor – with his company The Brian Brooks Moving Company, and has set an original work on the AU students. With every visit to this region, he has shown a new facet to his creativity. Some of a Thousand Words, performed at the Miller Performing Arts Center this Fall, explored his collaborative relationship with Wendy Whelan, one of the world’s most cherished ballet performers. It was a true departure from his previous works. Both the new and the dance savvy audience members received it enthusiastically. One man who had never seen a dance concert said, “At first, I was unsure. But by the end of the night, I was hooked! Amazing!” Anne Currier, a local prominent ceramist said “I loved that I had the chance to see Brian Brooks and Wendy Whelan dance the dances that make American contemporary dance/art/performance so vibrant and vital!”

Angier programmed this particular show as a counterweight to Ann Carlson’s Doggie Hamlet that was brought to Alfred Fall 2015. Doggie Hamlet included 35 sheep, three dogs, and six performers. Some of a Thousand Words was radically different from Ms. Carlson’s work thus exposing the audience to dances extremely different from each other, but both high in quality and steeped in profound creativity.

There were two evening performances of Some of a Thousand Words. Each night incited standing ovations from the audience. After the first performance, Angier conducted a twenty minute interview with the artists on stage and then opened up the discussion to the audience for a 10 minute question / answer session. It was a rich conversation, the audience’s questions were thoughtful and considered, and both Whelan and Brooks were charming and articulate. After the second performance there was a 30-minute “meet and greet” with the audience in the lobby of the theater, allowing the audience to informally converse with the artists. Mr. Brooks also taught a high-energy master class that was well attended and wholeheartedly received.

The audience included Courtney Mealy from the Cattaraugus Arts Council; four members of the DanceForce; students and faculty from SUNY Brockport, Nazareth College, The University of Rochester, Alfred State College and Alfred University; employees from Corning’s Cedar Arts 171; and people of all ages from Allegany, Steuben, and the surrounding counties. It was an influential residency for both the artists and the audience.