.Stepping Out

LIFT AND HOLD: Wingrove dancer Mike Howerton balances Annette Williams in a moment of dynamic repose.

AS A YOUNG DANCER, Margaret Wingrove knew that she wanted to be a choreographer. She felt a need to express her emotions, insights and unique perspective through creations of her own. When an instructor in the San Jose State University dance department suggested that she take a choreography class, Wingrove jumped at the chance. Now, 30-plus years later, Wingrove is at the helm of the longest-standing modern dance company in San Jose.

The Margaret Wingrove Dance Company, whose upcoming performance, “A Passion for Dance,” runs Jan. 6–8 at The Stage in San Jose, specializes in what Wingrove calls a “hybrid” of modern dance and ballet. “I love the idea of mixing the two,” she says. “With ballet or tap or jazz, you have to stay within that realm, but with modern dance, you can use whatever vocabulary of movement you have to express your ideas.”

An insightful choreographer with an appreciation for both the vulnerability and strength of the human experience, Wingrove finds inspiration all around her, but stresses the importance of her dances originating from an emotional level. “I’m always open, but inspiration for a dance has to be something that I’m touched by,” she says. “It can’t be movement for movement’s sake. Sometimes it’s a piece of music, sometimes its an artist’s life, sometime’s its a particular theme.”

Taking inspiration from the works of Sylvia Plath, Vincent van Gogh, Khalil Gibran and more, Wingrove’s dances express joy, sorrow, loss, struggle, love and everything in between. “I really want the audience to be touched in some way,” she says. “Martha Graham said that the audience should go into the theater like they would go into a church, expecting to be nourished. I think we need that. Art is a reminder to audiences that they have a human soul.”

In “A Passion for Dance,” the company explores themes of seduction, repressed emotion, love, awakenings, emotional abandon and self-awareness, with music by George Winston, John Cage, Chopin and Cirque du Soleil, and poetry by Sylvia Plath and John Tupper. A highlight of the performance is a collaborative, co-choreographed piece with student dancers from Yerba Buena High School, whom Wingrove has been working with since August. “It’s a time in my life when I want to pass things on,” Wingrove says. “These students have a wonderful exuberance and openness. They’re ready to explore, which is what modern dance is about. I want people to see that this is the hope of our future.”

Margaret Wingrove

Friday-Saturday, 8pm, Sunday, 3pm; $25-$45

The Stage Theatre, San Jose

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