Professional dancers in various poses

Glassman Lecture: SIU Carbondale alumna Winifred Haun is bringing her dance company to perform as part of an artist-in-residence program, Nov. 12-17. (Photos provided)

November 07, 2023

SIU’s Glassman Lecture to feature acclaimed dance company, Nov. 12-17

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Award-winning dancer, choreographer, artistic director and Southern Illinois University Carbondale alumna Winifred Haun will bring her dance company to perform as part of an artist-in-residence program, Nov. 12-17.

While on campus, Haun and members of her Oak Park, Illinois-based dance company, Winifred Haun & Dancers, will present workshops prior to a free, public showcase at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, in Shryock Auditorium. The showcase will include SIU students and members of the community who can audition on Sunday, Nov. 12.

glassmanlecture-winifredhaun-sm.jpgHaun will also participate in a discussion on her career with Darryl K. Clark, associate professor of musical theater dance in the School of Theater and Dance, starting at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, in the Honors Lounge in Morris Library, Room 180.

The artist-in-residence is part of this fall’s Michael and Nancy Glassman Distinguished Lecture presented by the University Honors Program. Other sponsors are the university’s Office of Anti-racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the College of Arts and Media and Morris Library.           

Media advisory

To arrange for interviews, contact Darryl K. Clark, associate professor, School of Theater and Dance, at 618-453-5741.

In more than 20 years since its founding, the dance company has created, presented and produced over 125 original dance works, including one full-length ballet, commissioned 32 original musical scores and participated in more than 300 public performances and events. Haun received the 2022 3Arts Award and a 2016 MacArthur Foundation International Connections Award.

The artist-in-residence program “will be a great chance for our student and community dancers to work with an established dance artist,” said Clark, who knew Haun from his days as a dancer and choreographer in Chicago. He saw Haun’s first work in 1988 at a showcase for emerging choreographers called “Dance for a 1.98,” where her collaboration with Darrian Ford was voted one of the audience’s favorite pieces.

“I’m proud of her accomplishments, with her company celebrating its 25th year in Chicago, and it is a thrill and an honor to have her back on campus,” Clark said.

In addition to discussing Haun’s career, Clark will also touch on Haun’s time at SIU, performing in Chicago, starting her troupe auditioning, upcoming projects “and her own antidote for surviving this world and advocating for her dancers.”

Open auditions set 

Free, open auditions for the Nov. 17 showcase will take place on Sunday in Shryock Auditorium. SIU students and community members can try out at 6 p.m., and students in the School of Music and School of Theater and Dance will be able to audition at 8 p.m. Registration is not required.

Clark emphasized that Haun's audition process "is welcoming to dancers of all levels. One of her main ideas is inclusivity."

Busy week planned

glassman-main-2-sm.jpgHaun said she and two assistant choreographers will initially be involved in teaching some of the workshops and assist with the development of the new work for local dancers before the rest of her company, including six dancers and a production coordinator arrive on Thursday, Nov. 16, to rehearse and work on technical aspects for the next day’s showcase.

The showcase will present five works from the repertory:

  • “Nervous System," choreographed by Summer Smith, which premiered in early 2023 in Chicago at Links Hall. Smith, the company’s managing director, is also a former company dancer and assistant artistic director.
  • “Everything You Just Said,” a duet Haun created in May 2022. Haun said the performance is for two dancers and a bench to music by Michael Wall. The sound design features sounds captured by scientists of melting Arctic ice.
  • “I am (not) this body,” an excerpt for four women. “IANTB is a work from 2018, and it explores how we view ‘different’ bodies – the bodies of women, children and people of color – and how those bodies and the humans inside them seem to be invisible or to have less value.,” Haun said.
  • "Bento" is a work for six dancers that premiered in 2012. It explores movement phrases donated by other choreographers and is a purely abstract work, she said.
  • “When Day Comes” is a group work that premiered in 2022, “and expresses how humans are constantly pursuing something, and how the chase causes discord, suffering, drama and occasional but limited joy.”

Fond memories of SIU

Haun earned her bachelor’s degree in theater/dance in 1984 and choreographed several works for student and faculty dance concerts and musicals while on campus. She was also a dance captain and assistant director while performing in summer stock productions in the region.

When she arrived on campus in 1981, Haun, who began formal dance training when she was 10 years old, recalls she thought she was leaving the dance field when she arrived and “wanted to study psychology and the sciences and perhaps become a physical therapist.” The university offered a good psychology program, was affordable, and was a long way from Chicago, she said.

She has returned to campus twice since graduating.

“I'm excited to visit SIU again,” Haun said. “I learned a lot during my years at SIU, and because the dance and theater departments were so small at that time, I was able to do a lot of different things, like run lights for shows, build costumes and sets, and choreograph.”