Arts & Culture

UK Students Show How Dance Can Speak 'Louder Than Words'

photo of web banner for "Louder than Words"
UK Department of Theatre and Dance presents "Louder Than Words" Jan 24-27, at the Pam Miller Downtown Arts Center.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 22, 2019) — The University of Kentucky Department of Theatre and Dance will use its eighth annual dance concert to present their dancers and choreographers’ thoughts on such complex issues from immigration to marriage equality in “Louder Than Words,” Jan. 24 - 27, at the Pam Miller Downtown Arts Center.

This year’s program will feature innovative and thought-provoking contemporary choreography from guest choreographers and UK dance faculty that will not only present the art of dance at its finest, but also encourage discussions of those wider and more complex issues facing our world today. 

Christopher Morgan is this year’s artist-in-residence. He is artistic director and executive director of the Dance Place in Washington, D.C., and director of his own company, CKM&A. He created a new work on seven of UK’s dance students in one week. “On defen(c)e” is a dance that asks the performers to create barriers with their bodies as a physical metaphor for border and immigration struggles facing the world.

“Immigration is becoming increasingly urgent for many populations while mobility simultaneously becomes increasingly difficult. As countries around the world are grappling with shifting populations, I find myself asking ‘do good fences really make for good neighbors?’" Morgan said. “Personally, I'm not sure the answer is yes. By presenting a series of walls made of bodies that performers must navigate by bumping into, sliding along and weaving through, ‘On defen(c)e’ is looking to humanize an issue that is challenging for all of us to address. “

Inspired by the vast region of the Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor, Stephanie Harris’ newest work, “Vestiges” was developed as a means to connect her artistry to place. A member of the Pine Mountain Artist Collective, founded by the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust, Harris attended an artist retreat this fall to conduct research for her master’s thesis. Her deep connection to the natural world coupled with her interest in capturing the essence of ethereal subject matter and themes inspired this work.

“Vestiges” was created through a discovery of Pine Mountain, its ecosystems, its natural structures that were then interwoven with the textures and imagery obtained during her retreat. This information served as the source for the development of a movement language that resonates with place.

Lecturer Anthony Alterio’s new work delves into a world that every single human being has reference too — weddings. What do they mean? Who are they actually for? And what purpose do they serve? All of these questions have different answers for different people, religions, races, cultures, sexualities and genders.

Through the lens of a Western civilization of heteronormativism (assuming that all people are straight and only identify with the binaries of two genders), Alterio’s piece begins to break down our ideas of what weddings can be and pushes our expectations to where they should be, which Alterio believes is true love, joy and celebration of life and people. He asks the audience when viewing the piece to think of these three things:

1.) Something new: Be open to other possibilities beyond how you have defined terms in your life.

2.) Something old: Reflect on your past memories and shared experiences with others.

3.) Something blue: It’s important to recognize what is important to you and your life.

Be sure to save the date for this special occasion.

Theresa Bautista re-stages her work “Trafficked” for “Louder Than Words.” The journey to creating this dance work began two years ago when Bautista attended a presentation by the Nashville organization Poverty and the Arts in which a woman bravely shared her plight as a runaway who was trapped and sex trafficked. 

Many in our country are under the false impression that slavery ended with the Civil War. Unbeknownst to us, even in our own neighborhoods, people continue to be held against their will and are bought and sold at an alarming rate due to market demand. In this work, Bautista examines the various means used to recruit women and men into the sex trafficking trade — like violence, drugs and threats. “Trafficked” was made possible with funding from Contemporary Dance Theatre and originally premiered in June 2018 at the Area Choreographer’s Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Director of Dance and Artistic Director of “Louder Than Words” Susie Thiel creates a new work on eight dance majors and minors. “Beyond the Breach” explores the unexpected changes that occur in life. The eight women represent the emotional and psychological portions of one woman going through a major life change.

"Louder Than Words" will command the stage 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24-26, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at the Pam Miller Downtown Arts Center, located at 141 E. Main St. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students with a valid student ID at the ticket office. Processing fees will be applied to the ticket purchase. Tickets can be purchased through the Pam Miller Downtown Arts Center Box Office at 859-425-2550 or online at

The Department of Theatre and Dance at UK College of Fine Arts has played an active role in the performance scene in Central Kentucky for more than 100 years. Students in the program get hands-on training and one-on-one mentorship from the renowned professional theatre faculty. The liberal arts focus of their bachelor's degree program is coupled with ongoing career counseling to ensure a successful transition from campus to professional life. 

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue