Common Themes

A Rugged Shore develops common themes from U.S. and Canadian cultures, such as our shared coastline. This performance, a combined effort between Human Landscape Dance of Washington DC and Susan Cook of Halifax NS, emphasizes myths that cross our mutual border. Human Landscape Dance will present two Greek myths through dance: “Penelope and Odysseus,” and “Icarus and Daedalus.” Susan Cook restages her solo “Inside and Everywhere,” a movement response to “My Favorite Things,” which questions the feminine myths that underlie the song.

Amanda Abrams and Mary Szegda in Icarus and Daedalus

Human Landscape Dance’s Greek myth dances emphasize the personal, human side of heroes. “Penelope and Odysseus” (premiere) showcases the wife’s experience in a relationship that is strung over many estranged years. The opening duet, Leaving, is set before Odysseus leaves for the Trojan War. He and Penelope bustle over the baggage, last-minute phone calls, scrambling to make online hotel reservations in a foreign language. The two, played by Amanda Abrams and Alexander Short, dance over, under, and around each other. Abrams leaps against Short’s shoulder, twisting him under her arm, is herself lifted and spun halfway around, knocks him off of her hips, then flies backward and upward against him. When they pause, they have too much to say: hopes, memories, anxieties--too much for a simple goodbye. They stare at each other until, safer to be busy, their wandering eyes spy more tasks to perform. The dance emphasizes our common humanity.

Inside and Everywhere” rejects sugar and spice and everything nice. Set to “My Favorite Things,” the dance displays an edgy rigor that belies the softness of the lyrics. Swooping low into a crouch, Cook rises on one leg in arabesque, suspended as if by a hook. She drops into a capoeirista lunge, then rolls through her shoulders to stand. With a mixture of ronds de jambe and high kicks, Cook juxtaposes her ballet and martial arts training. Cook’s dance defies the waif-like vision of femininity that permeates both U.S. and Canadian cultures.

Watch A Rugged Shore, an evening of contemporary dance by Human Landscape Dance and Susan Cook, on Friday May 18 and Saturday May 19 at 8pm at Joe’s Movement Emporium, 3309 Bunker Hill Rd, Mount Rainier MD.


Human Landscape Dance:
Human Landscape Dance
 is a contemporary dance company based in Washington DC. Our work has been described as "…pitch-perfect and an element of humor and suspense is subtly added…" (Philadelphia Inquirer). Our dances explore relationships: ways in which people connect, disconnect, make nice, be cruel, make love, or make space for themselves. Touch is our medium. Bodies mold together in unexpected ways: a leg stretched across a shoulder, a thumb pressing under a chin, or two bodies so entwined that one covers the other completely. The human dance of love, hate, parting, and supporting are played out in different degrees of touch. Founded in 2006, Human Landscape Dance has performed in Philadelphia PA, Halifax NS, and London UK.

Susan Cook:
Susan Cook performed with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in the grand classical ballets, and danced her way to Banff, Edmonton, China, and the United Kingdom. Currently, her creative focus is developing choreographies that fuse traditional and contemporary techniques such as Capoeira and Contact Improvisation, Ballet and Break dance. Susan is admired as a physically powerful performer who is sensitive to the world around her and offers insight into our fragility and power.


Blog entry about development of "Penelope and Odysseus": Odysseus

Artistic Director Malcolm Shute's reflections on previous collaboration: Blind Date Reflections

Photo Gallery High resolution photos available upon request.