“The Making of “Big Weather”


Media & Studio Arts Symposium

Affecting Change in the World, New Tools for Media Creation and Performance

The Making of “Big Weather”

February 16, 2018 | 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Peter Sparling, Rudolf Arnheim Distinguished Professor of Dance, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, University of Michigan

Description: Professor Peter Sparling takes us on a fast tour of the 28-month long process of making “Big Weather”, a work for two video screens, six percussionists and eighteen dancers. With both dance and music filmed and recorded at the Duderstadt Video Studio in October, 2015, the production is one of 20 screendances and 25 performance works Sparling has created in collaboration with Jacques Mersereau and the staff of the Duderstadt.

Presenter Bio:

Peter Sparling is Rudolf Arnheim Distinguished University Professor of Dance and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at University of Michigan. A graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and The Juilliard School, Sparling was a member of the José Limón Dance Company (1971-73) and principal dancer with Martha Graham Dance Company (1973-87). As Graham’s assistant, he coached Rudolf Nureyev and collaborated with her on many new works.  He has performed and staged Graham’s works all over the world and has appeared with the company twice on PBS Dance in America. His video curtain warmers, Beautiful Captives: Martha Graham and the Cinematic IdVariations of Angels and Sacred/Profane have opened three of the company’s New York seasons. 

Sparling has had extensive experience as artistic director, (Peter Sparling Dance Company 1979-1983 NYC, 1993-2007 Ann Arbor), choreographer, performer, teacher (U-M Distinguished Faculty Award and 1998 Governor’s Michigan Artist Award), lecturer, video artist, writer (Ballet Review, Choreographic PracticesMichigan Quarterly Review, and the recent anthology, Dance’s Duet with the Camera), collaborator, administrator (former chair, U-M Dance Department) and dance/arts consultant. Sparling was a resident at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2010. He has presented papers at Society of Dance History Scholars and European Association for Dance History; he recently co-chaired the groundbreaking conference, Meanings and Makings of Queer Dance, at U-M. His dances for video have been selected for numerous international festivals, including the 2007 New York Dance on Camera Festival, the 2008 American Dance Festival Dance Film & Video Festival, Lisbon’s InShadow Festival 2010 and DANCE:FILMS Glasgow. His made-for-TV work, Climbing Sainte-Victoire, was broadcast on Michigan Television in 2009. His screendance, The Snowy Owl, was featured in the Court Métrage or Short Film Corner of the Cannes Film Festival 2015. Since 2014, he has been making work for his multi-screen installation, the Pop-Up Projection Pavilion. Sparling continues his ten-year residency at the U-M Life Sciences Institute, where he has collaborated with cell biologist Dan Klionsky and maintains a paint studio. He is currently working on his memoir, Confessions of a Dancing Man. Website: www.petersparling.com