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Spring 1999

Young Guns
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Victoria Marks
Assistant Professor of Choreography/Performance
School of the Arts and Architecture

Dance is an art without words. But to create her postmodern dance pieces, which feature mothers and daughters, a troupe of both able-bodied and disabled dancers and even a cross-section of a Nebraska city performing on a football field, Victoria Marks begins with conversation and dialogue.

"When I worked with able-bodied and disabled dancers, I asked them, 'How do you want to be represented? How do you move? Teach me,' " says Marks, 42, who teaches in the Department of World Arts and Cultures.

The resulting works, Marks says, are portraits that capture and communicate the character of relationships -- fathers and daughters, for instance -- or the essence of a city, as in her current: a "communitywide site project," which explores themes of home and diversity in Lincoln, NB. Sometimes Marks works with professional dancers, but also likes to use lay people who are intrigued by movement.

"I explain that everybody is a dancer," she says. "I like to work with people who don't know they're dancers."

In Outside In, a filmed dance that has brought Marks critical acclaim, three dancers in wheelchairs interact with three dancers "on their feet," as Marks puts it. The piece was praised for its dynamism and in-your-face exploration of disability. In watching the film, "you reform your feelings about disability," Marks says.

Marks studied dance at Sarah Lawrence College and earned a B.A. in liberal arts there. She received a Fulbright Fellowship, as well as grants for her work from the National Endowment for the Arts and the London Arts Board, among others. In 1997, she received the Cal Arts Alpert Award for choreographic achievement and recently completed a three-year stint as director of choreography for the London Contemporary Dance School.

In addition, a number of her original works, including Mothers and Daughters, Men and Outside In, have been filmed and broadcast on television in Europe, Australia and North America and have won several awards.

"Those films, in a single airing, have reached more of an audience than I would have in a lifetime of stage work," she says.

-- C.L.

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