Island Moving Company Celebrates

Newport's famed dance troupe marks three decades in motion


Celebrating 30 years of dance, Island Moving Company (IMC) has a busy year ahead beginning with this month’s kickoff premiere production of Mother Goose at Rosecliff. This creative and highly interactive piece is suitable for children as young as three with matinee performances March 2-4. Saturday, March 3 will be IMC’s Opening Night celebration featuring the company dancers with a performance of works from the repertoire and a champagne birthday toast.

Mother Goose is choreographed by the company dancers and features Newport actress Lisa Reimer. It showcases creative collaboration among its dancers, something that Executive Director Dominique Alfandre says, “is close to our heart.” This creative collaboration has been the foundation of IMC for the past 30 years. Begun in 1982 by a group of Rhode Island dancers who wanted an opportunity to choreograph original work, IMC, under the leadership of Artistic Director Miki Ohlsen, has produced and presented dances by a diverse group of choreographers and has worked with poets, musicians and visual artists.

Collaborative efforts have also extended out to the schools with creative movement education programs in Newport and surrounding communities including Jamestown and Little Compton and as far away as Palm Beach, Florida. This year’s education program integrates themes of tolerance and unity into the schools anti-bullying efforts, using creative movement as the catalyst to teach the importance of teamwork and cooperation.

This reach is also extended nationally through the company’s Great Friends Touring Project. In May, the whole company will fly off to Pasadena, California to perform with the Pasadena Dance Theatre. One of the highlights of the season will be the Great Friends Dance Festival to be held in July, which is a continuation of last year’s Great Touring Project.

However, before traveling to Pasadena and the July Festival, the company will present all new works with IMC – 30 years of Great Dance in Great Places at the casino where it all began. Alfandre says, “This celebratory performance will serve as a fundraiser for the trip to Pasadena.”

Rhode Island choreographer Colleen Cavanaugh will also return this year to finish a project she began last summer called Seaside Reverie, which she choreographed for a large cast and will modify for a smaller one so that the company can continue to perform the piece. Currently, IMC has eight company dancers of its own.

For the July festival, the Missouri Contemporary Ballet will join IMC dancers as this year’s resident company and will perform, along with the John Mark Owen Presents, a past participant in the touring project from New York. Alfandre explains, “It’s two weeks of dancers sharing and working together to bring a dance treat for all.” The project also helps the local economy, as the dancers are housed and fed in Newport while here.

One of the most creative aspects of IMC is its site-specific choreography like that which will be featured at Rosecliff Mansion in the lively retelling of Mother Goose’s nursery rhymes this month. A similar staging of Dracula is slated for Belcourt Castle in the fall.

Alfandre concludes, “It is this interactive and creative choreography that has attracted a diverse audience from all over.” Even the likes of The Today Show, and most recently Good Morning America, have featured the company’s production of The Nutcracker, which will once again be presented at Rosecliff to close this 30th anniversary season.