BY: ANNA PRENTISS , JAMIE RAGER
A unique residency program gave Florida State University School of Dance students the opportunity to learn from a legend last fall.
The Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC), a dance and choreographic research center in the FSU School of Dance, hosted renowned choreographer Dianne McIntyre as part of Living Legacy, a program created to offer American artists of global significance the opportunity to further their legacy and ideas.
Anjali Austin, chair of the School of Dance, said the artist residencies help students forge connections that serve “as a gateway into the world of dance outside of FSU.”
While in residence at FSU last November, nationally acclaimed dance pioneer McIntyre invited students to help in the development of her new work, “In the Same Tongue,” a full-length multidisciplinary piece that features poetry by the Obie-winning playwright Ntozake Shange, a composition by celebrated jazz musician Olu Dara and original music by renown American composer and cellist Diedre Murray.
“Working with FSU dance students was no different than working with professional dancers,” McIntyre said. “They just came ‘whoa’ like that — that was really a joy for me. Next time I perform this piece, they are going to have to come up to the FSU School of Dance level.”
McIntyre invited students Emma Morris, Sherrod Reid, Taylor West, Sky Barnes, Abigail Nelson and Megan Murphy into “In the Same Tongue,” as a pilot for community inclusion when the piece tours in the future.
Morris, a senior, said she was thankful for the opportunity to engage not only with McIntyre, but with her whole company.
“Practicing dance is crucial to a career in dance, but what opportunities like this provide is not only training but professional experience,” Morris said.
McIntyre describes her piece as an exploration of dance and music “speaking” to each other, a metaphor for Africans, bound together with no common “tongue.”
“The piece encapsulates the sound of rage, endearment and suspicion while also incorporating sacred traditions in harmony and silent speech,” she said.
McIntyre is a multidisciplinary artist with a choreographic career spanning nearly five decades in dance, theater, television and film. Her work has earned accolades such as the 2022 Dance Magazine Award, 2020 United States Artists Fellowship, 2019 Dance USA Honor, 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award, three BESSIE awards and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
While this is her first residency with MANCC, McIntyre has known Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, FSU’s Nancy Smith Fichter Professor in Dance and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor, and Carla Peterson, director of MANCC, for decades.
MANCC serves as a residency incubator for guest artists to collaborate with students and the greater Tallahassee community. As part of the residency, McIntyre shared selections from “In the Same Tongue” with students, faculty and community members during an informal showing at the end of her residency. She will premiere the work in 2023 with a national tour to follow.
“At MANCC, this space has been magical for me,” McIntyre said. “The choreography just flowed out of me, due to both the openness of the dancers and the space — this space has magic.”
For more information, visit MANCC.org.