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Objects and shared space inspire DeFrantz dance

"An everyday item, such as a laundry basket, can generate its own dance," said Associate Professor Thomas DeFrantz in describing "Object Lessons," one of two new works to be performed by the MIT Dance Theater Ensemble this weekend.

Both pieces feature live improvised music. In "Object Lessons," MIT music instructor and french hornist Jean Rife will create a musical score in response to the dancers' movements; the dancers will in turn "respond to sounds as they see fit," said DeFrantz, though their improvisations will take place within a narrow category of visual cues, thus giving an overriding structure to the dance.

The movements of "Object Lessons" are inspired by everyday objects from the living quarters of the ensemble members. "Bathroom Suite" is about shared bathroom spaces. It will be performed to a turntable score created by Nathaniel Costello and Daniel Lee of the newly formed MIT Turntable Project.

DeFrantz also will perform a short selection from his piece, "Monk's Mood" (1999). Set to a recorded score of Thelonious Monk compositions, the experimental theater work utilizes tap dance and puppetry to detail episodes in the life of composer Thelonious Monk.

Performances will be on May 3 at 6 p.m. and May 4 at 1 p.m. in Killian Hall. For information, call 253-6957 or send mail to

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 30, 2003.

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