BEST CHOREOGRAPHER - 2003
Dancing outside isn't a new idea. Ted Shawn, for example, founded Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival decades ago in the mountains of Massachusetts so he could commune with nature. On a local level, Mary Lee Hardenberg has made a tradition of welcoming the summer solstice with dances set on bridges across the Mississippi River. But Stevens, a longtime Twin Cities resident who recently relocated to Iowa, decided to do more than just perform in Theodore Wirth Park. In Leonora's Dream, the choreographer and her pickup company literally danced all over the rambling site, leading crowds of onlookers through forests, alongside lakes, through idyllic glens, and down winding paths. At times we even crouched like nature photographers or scientists observing the habits of a rarely glimpsed species who grappled over tree trunks, tumbled down hills, and waded through muddy water. Inspired by the work of painter Leonora Carrington, Stevens kept her choreography simple and allowed the whimsy of nature and wildlife to occasionally steal the show. It takes a certain vision and faith--and all kinds of guts--to pull off this sort of project. And although the result was not a tour de force of movement, it was a delightful way to transform dance into an adventure for both participant and audience member.