Dance Involves Sculptor and Musician

Scene from the dance 'aeolian'
Associate Professor of Dance Sarah M. Barry choreographed a dance, seen here, in collaboration with a musician and sculptor.

From the March 2014 Desktop News | Associate Professor of Dance Sarah M. Barry teamed up with a musician and sculptor for the spring production of Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre, the College’s pre-professional dance company. Scott O’Toole, a graduate student in the School of Music, provided original live music for the dance, named “aeolian,” while Kelly Shannon, a graduate student in the Department of Art and Art History, provided original set design.

Barry said she drew inspiration for the choreography from Shannon’s sculptures, which are based on ideas of organic growth, and from the structure of O’Toole’s music score.

This isn’t the first time Barry has collaborated with other artists.  She frequently works with art professor Craig Wedderspoon and collaborates with costume designers, her own dancers and the department’s lighting designer Lyndell T. McDonald throughout every production. But this was Barry’s first time working with a musician. She said it was a treat to have live music performed during the concert, and both the sculpture and music enhanced the performance.

“I appreciated being able to talk with both [artists] about their work throughout the process,” Barry said. “Also, I think it is so important for artists to support one another and get involved in forms outside their medium. The gorgeous set design and music set just the right tone for the dance, and this dance would not work without the set and music.”

The lighting, an art itself, also contributed to the dance’s success, Barry said.

“Lyndell McDonald is certainly an artist of light and sound, which are integral components to every production,” Barry said. “I think he did a particularly gorgeous job of lighting the sculptures for ‘aeolian.’ They really seemed as if they were glowing from the inside, and the subtle way they shifted color throughout matched the changes in tempo, intensity and design in the movement and music.”

Barry is now starting to work on a film version of the dance with filmmaker and UA professor Rachel Raimist. O’Toole will create a shorter version of the music to go with the screendance, and McDonald will re-do the lighting for the film.

For upcoming dance performances, visit