When Robin Cotler and the Images Evolution Dance team performed in the town of Ladek Zdroj, Poland, last year, they probably never expected to be invited back so soon.
Cotler -- the founder and director of Images Evolution and its housing studio, "Images in Dance" -- travelled with her students to the small mountain town last year as part of a cultural exchange program. She said they were recommended by a previous participant.
"Soul Force" is the name of the work they performed for the people of Ladek Zdroj. It was so well received that the group was invited to come back this year for a repeat performance and commissioned to perform another piece as well.
"As far as I know, we're the only company they've invited two years in a row," Cotler said, adding that performing groups are normally asked to come back every other year or so.
Dancers' ages range from 16 to 23. They are pictured above, along with Cotler (left). They are, from left, Joseph Cotler (back), Krista Montrone, Emily Drilling, Robert Tyler, Kristen Drilling, Laura Neth (back), Charity Newton (front), Noelle Cotler, Stephanie Denzler and Stephanie Breining.
Last night, on the eve of their departure for Poland, Images Evolution treated locals to "Soul Force" -- and to a premiere performance of "I Am," the new piece they are bringing to Poland -- at its Liberty Street site.
Cotler got the idea for "Soul Force" from research she had done on the founding of the United States. "Soul Force," according to Cotler, was the name some of the first Americans gave to the idea behind founding our country.
"The whole purpose of the U.S. being formed," Cotler said, was so that people could live together in peace, freedom, and respect. That's kind of gotten lost."
Images Evolution's performance is about these ideals and how things like greed, vanity and political manipulation have gotten in the way.
"I Am," on the other hand, has more personal themes.
"It's almost a sequel (to "Soul Force")," Cotler said. "It's about finding yourself, and finding love for yourself. Once you love yourself, then you are able to love others."
Here is a selection from "Soul Force."
And here is a selection from "I Am."
Cotler sees dance as an art that helps to "open people up and break down defenses." She is very happy to bring that art to Ladek Zdroj, a community she called "the definition of underserved and underfunded."
In addition to bringing Image Evolution's performance to the people of Ladek Zdroj, Cotler will be helping to create a dance academy there.
"Last year we formed some real bonds," she said. "(The people of Ladek Zdroj) talked to me about having me help them pioneer a new program."
She hopes that by helping to get this new dance company off the ground, she will be providing the town with a resource for creative, artistic expression that would not otherwise be available.
"Images in Dance" offers dancing lessons to children, teens and adults, and has locations in Batavia, Akron, Perry and Brockport. For more information, visit their website (www.imagesindance.com), call 343-2818 or e-mail [email protected]