The title might be misleading as Sidra Bell’s namesake dance company stages two performances of “Mönster Outside” at the Contemporary Arts Center this weekend.
But the word “mönster,” with an umlaut, translates to “pattern” in Swedish and the word “outside” refers to the “outliers in today’s society,” Bell said.
Bell’s three-year collaboration with Swedish composer Per Storby Jutbring (known professionally as Per Storby) resulted in his musical composition being incorporated into the 75-minute dance piece that will premiere at the CAC on Friday and Saturday nights.
Bell’s six dancers — three men and three women – will be accompanied by Storby’s New Tide Orquestra, a five-piece chamber ensemble from Sweden that worked extensively with the dancers in Gothenburg.
Making her second appearance in three years at the CAC, Bell described the new work as “a multidisciplinary piece with a really elaborate set design and some vocal scoring.”
Shunning the contemporary dance trend of relying on recorded music, Bell added, “It is a luxury to have a five-piece band and the music is so gorgeous. It’s been an amazing experience to rehearse to a live band and we’re looking forward to having them onstage with us.”
“I think ‘Mönster Outside’ is like looking through a prism of ideas, characters and identities," Bell said. "Because of the Swedish meaning of ‘mönster,’ the subject of the piece deals with patterns in society, and outliers was another idea.
“So I think the piece and its subjects happen in different ways,” Bell continued. “Sometimes it’s more based on movement that happens in the space. Then (with) movement and the (visual) projections you actually see personas coming out that are kind of lonely or exuberant. So, when I look at the piece, it feels like light and space shattered, and you just get all these little pieces of an idea about humanity.
“The set design is kind of a fragmented space with mirrors, so there’s a lot of reflection, light play and projection mapping,” Bell added, crediting her designer Amy Rubin and lighting director Amith Chandrashaker. “It’s really a visual spectacle.”
The work, Bell further explained, will incorporate elements of classical ballet mixed with more contemporary styling. There will be solo performances that emphasize the “outlier” loneliness and alienation theme, but there will also be duets and group scenes that promote a coming-together motif. There will be no break in the action.
Growing up in an upscale neighborhood in upper Manhattan, the daughter of a jazz pianist father and a classical pianist mother, Bell’s interest and involvement in the arts came at an early age.
She received some of her earliest training at two of New York’s leading contemporary dance companies: Dance Theatre of Harlem and Alvin Ailey Dance. She later went on to Yale University and the State University of New York, founding her company at age 22.
Over the years, Sidra Bell Dance has performed on four continents, won numerous honors and garnered scores of rave reviews in prestigious publications.
Bell speaks proudly of the encouragement she has gotten from both of her parents.
“They’ve been my biggest supporters,” Bell said. “They understand the process of an art maker and they encourage me to follow my vision. They really get that and I am very lucky.”
A world premiere contemporary dance performance by the Sidra Bell Dance Company
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
WHERE: Contemporary Arts Center
900 Camp St., New Orleans
INFO: (504) 528.3800. cacno.org