Karl Schaffer, top, and Erik Stern
Duo turns wordly ideas into fun dances
For Dr. Schaffer and Mr. Stern, when they dance, they want to make the invisible visible. Their self-named dance ensemble -- he's Karl Schaffer, professor of mathematics at DeAnza College in Cupertino, Calif., and he's Erik Stern, professor of dance at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah -- may have made its reputation by combining the exactitude of numbers and choreo- graphed movement, but, according to Stern, it's become more than that over its 17-year history.
"Writing in the Sky" with the Dr. Schaffer & Mr. Stern Dance Ensemble
» Place: Paliku Theatre, Windward Community College
» Time: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday
» Tickets: $15 to $25
» Call: 956-8246 or online at etickethawaii.com
"Overall, we're recognized for taking ideas, whether they be scientific or literary or social, and making dances that are kind of fun, highly physical, quirky and entertaining," he said. "Our interplay emphasizes curiosity and humor," dance pieces that show how the human impulse to analyze everything can still result in confusion, "and trying to get things right."
This weekend, the duo, plus folk dancer Saki and Gregg Lizenbery (who is also chairman of the University of Hawaii-Manoa's dance department), will perform material compiled over their extensive career.
Their first collaboration in Santa Cruz, Calif., in the 1980s was what Stern called "'Four-Footed Hamlet,' a bastardized version of Shakespeare's classic." And their creative process hasn't changed much since then.
"Things come out of discussions, and there's a strongly physical element to our thinking. In doing workshops with children, you come to find out that when their minds get stimulated, their bodies go with it. I think that's the true state of humans, but it gets taught out of you. We've rediscovered that mind-body connection in our work."
The Schaffer-Stern dance ensemble has been to Hawaii several times before, and with this visit, they've already done residencies at Farrington and Castle high schools, UH and UH-Hilo. At the Manoa campus, they've been rehearsing a new original piece for the dance department that will be debuted at the upcoming spring concert.