Event to bring creative community together to celebrate dance, art and the Uptown neighborhoods

CINCINNATI -- Two of the region’s most prominent artistic groups are combining forces to put on a unique event intended to give creative types of all ages and skill types a chance to come together for a performance-based collaboration.

Presented by the group Modern Makers , the second annual Dance/Draw event will take place Wednesday night from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Niehoff Urban Studio on Short Vine.

Attendees will draw the ballet dancers from the Cincinnati Ballet’s “CBII” dance troupe as they perform and pose as moving sculptures.

“We will have Swan Lake and then it’s around the world!” said Anh Tran, one of the co-founders of Modern Makers, an interactive art and design organization.

“A mazurka is a character dance from Poland; we have a Spanish contemporary dance, a piece choreographed to music from Arvo Parti and a classical demonstration.”

The celebration of art will also feature dance-music works with Karen Wissel and Kazuaki Shiota. Wissel is a Cincinnati Conservatory of Music dance instructor and Shiota composes music.

“If you come in at 6 p.m., the dancers are slowly moving and warming up, posing in groups, slowing down movements. People can draw them, grab snacks and find a seat,” said Richards, the other co-founder of Modern Makers.

The CBII dancers will go on for a special showcase at 6:30 p.m.

“At 6:30 p.m. an introduction to the performance will happen, followed by the 30 to 45 minute performance,” said Richards, who is also an adjunct design professor at the University of Cincinnati. “The layout of the stage will make it really interesting for the audience and those who are there to draw.”

After the show, the dancers will continue to move slowly and pose for people to draw until 8 p.m.

“The awesome thing about the ballet is the performance aspect. Everyone can recognize and appreciate that,” Richards said. “Dance is such a different art form from visual art. It’s really cool to see other artists perform.”

Tran said the set up of Dance/Draw will be different this year because of the way it intertwines performance art with visual art and blurs the lines between artist and spectator.

“Last year we held two separate events: a drawing evening and an evening of performance. This year we are combining the two into one spectacular evening of drawing and performance,” she said.

Modern Maker’s first event of 2014 will also give artists a chance to work in large groups with friends, collaborators and even complete strangers.

“We are excited by the larger energy that comes from bringing people together to make and appreciate art,” Tran said. “We are happy to foster a creative dialogue and the exchange ideas from other people in the room.”

One of the ways the group hopes to bring those people together is by making it free and open to everyone.

“The goal for the all the Modern Makers’ events is to provide a free, awesome experience for various people from the community.” Tran said. “Normally, an experience like this would cost a lot of money so it might not be feasible for everyone to participate. We’re trying to make sure everyone has a chance.”

While focused on art, Modern Markers hopes to use its monthly events to change the literal and figurative landscape of the Uptown community by cultivating transformation in its various neighborhoods and residents.

“Modern Makers seeks to change the creative landscape of the Uptown area with opportunities that brings together students, families, and creative professionals together in the community,” Tran said. "Our mission is to build cultural exchange while cultivating artistic and environmental learning opportunities."

Located just north of downtown, Uptown Cincinnati includes the neighborhoods of Avondale, Clifton, Corryville, Clifton Heights, Fairview, University Heights, and Mt. Auburn and is the regional center of learning and health care. 

But with the help of the Uptown Consortium, Modern Makers hopes to make the area a leading center for the creative arts in Greater Cincinnati.

“We try to do something completely new and different each month – some will repeat year after year if they’re successful but we try to keep things interesting and fresh,” said Richards.

The organization’s next event is a film screening and discussion with the Niehoff Urban Studio on the subject of art in public space in Cincinnati and internationally.

Wednesday will be more about creation, expression and appreciating beauty of the human form. Both Tran and Richards believe Dance/Draw is perfect for families and people of all artistic backgrounds.

“Families are welcome as both parents and children will have the opportunity to share in the magic of the performances,” Tran said. “All attendees are encouraged to interact with the dancers and capture the movements on paper.”

In addition to being free, attendees may come and go as they wish, refreshments will be available and the event organizers are providing the art materials.

“We will provide sketching and drawing materials. But you need to provide your imagination!”

Tran said.

You can contact Richards and Tran through their website HarkandHark.com .

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