Meet Laurie Eisenhower, Founder and Artistic Director of Eisenhower Dance

The premiere of Eisenhower Dance’s The Light Show is TONIGHT! To help you get as excited as we are for this awesome performance, we’ve got a special interview with Eisenhower Dance founder and Artistic Director Laurie Eisenhower!

1. How long have you been dancing? I actually started dancing a little bit later in life, I started more as a gymnast, then I got into musical theatre in high school, then segued into dance.

2. When did you start Eisenhower Dance? This is the beginning of our 24th season, so 1991.

3. Did you have a reason why you started Eisenhower Dance? When I went to schooling for dance, I always enjoyed choreography, but I focused on dancing professionally…I had a nice professional dance career and so, when I quit dancing, I started working on choreography. I started my company because I had some dancers that I had been working with and we kind of wanted to form something together, and so we did, and I didn’t know that 24 years later we would have a sort of nationally touring company and be travelling and performing in so many wonderful places as we’ve been. It’s been a slow and steady growth for the company.

Eisenhower Dance: The Light Show

Eisenhower Dance: The Light Show

4. What is your favorite thing about your company? Well I just love my current dancers right now, they all are amazingly talented and they work very hard, and we all work together as a family, and I think we are producing some really beautiful work right now. So it’s exciting.

5. What’s been your favorite moment in the company since it’s started? I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question before…you know, I think that’s a little bit hard to answer because what you do is, for me as an artist, I’m always looking at the next project, I’m interested in the creative process, so right now the most exciting thing is working on the light show; I think it’s a great production, I can’t wait to see it all come together…it’s been a labor of love, I’ve really been working on this for a year and a half, and this is finally the premiere date so that’s very exciting. And so, when we finish The Light Show in a couple of years, we’ll have another project and I’ll be equally excited about that, so you just kind of keep growing. It is exciting to perform at the Wharton Center; it’s a beautiful, huge theatre, and I think for this particular production, this is going to work really well in this theatre, so it’s exciting to be in a stage that has all the lighting capability, the wing space, the fly space…everything that you really need to produce a lovely dance concert.

Eisenhower Dance: The Light Show

Eisenhower Dance: The Light Show

6. How’d you come up with the idea for The Light Show? I wanted to sort of raise the level of production of the company, and I thought of the idea of collaborating with different lighting designers and I thought, why don’t I do all of that in one production? And I had a meeting with Wharton Center staff and was kind of pitching this idea to them, and they said “let see if we can get a couple of other people on board” and the Detroit Opera House is co-commissioning it with the Wharton Center, so it was really nice to have these wonderful theatres kind of get behind my work and say we’re going to commission this new project, and it’s exciting because we’re going to be premiering it on Thursday.

7. How have your dancers felt about The Light Show? I think everyone is equally excited. You know, it’s interesting because as a performer you don’t get to see all the visual effects, so I think they’re going to be excited to see the actual video take of it because when you’re on stage you’re not quite sure what the image is going to be.

8. How is The Light Show different from some of the other works? There are five different dances in the production, and we are a repertory dance company so every time we’re producing a concert, each one of our works has its own separate look and feel and style and artistic point of view, so in some ways that’s similar, but the lighting component is what makes this different. The other thing about the lighting component is that generally, when you are doing a dance concert, the choreographer choreographs the whole dance and then they bring the lighting designer in afterwards to accentuate, or to highlight the movement, or make it look more interesting, whereas in this, the lighting designer and the choreographer worked at the very beginning and collaborated throughout the whole thing. So when I was talking with my lighting designer, I might be saying “is this possible? I have this idea, is this possible?” and they say “no, but you can do this,” and I say “oh, that’s a great idea!” And so we sort of work together to create this thing, and it was interesting I think, when I was talking with the designers, and saying this is a little uncomfortable or a little different for them too to be starting at the beginning and to for them to have more input was a little exciting for them.

Eisenhower Dance: The Light Show

Eisenhower Dance: The Light Show

9. What’s been the biggest challenge about the show? Just the production aspect, I mean we have so many props, and sets, and lights…just to set up the theatre is taking three days which normally takes one. So, it’s just a lot of lights to focus and a lot of extra equipment, it makes it scary.

10. What do you want the audience to take away from your kind of show, not just the Light Show, but any show the company puts on? Well, I want them to be moved by the dancing and by the choreography, and again because we are a repertory company, I think they’re going to see a broad spectrum of different styles of dance, and I think that’s always exciting…for me, as an audience member, to go to a show and see a variety of material. But I also think that, in this particular production, I think the visual imagery is much more a part of it than the physical dancing, but the imagery is very important too.

You still have time to buy tickets by calling 1-800-WHARTON, or by visiting the show page at…/eisenhower-dance-the-light-show! Students can get $15 student tickets by clicking the right hand side link!

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Posted in At Wharton Center, Events, Performing Arts, Q&A, Wharton Center News

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