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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Wild Space makes Milwaukee its stage

The Pritzlaff Building is the site of Wild Space Dance Company's latest show "In the Space Between." Photo courtesy of Wild Space Dance Company.

Wild Space Dance Company’s name is only a small indication of their dynamic approach to contemporary dance.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Milwaukee-based dance group has been creating emotionally charged and site-specific choreography for all types of audiences since the 1980s. Their productions resemble pictures in motion rather than traditional dance performances.

Founded in 1986 by artistic director Debra Loewen, recently named 2011 Milwaukee Arts Board Artist of the Year, Wild Space’s biggest mission is to expand contemporary dance and its appeal to audiences in Wisconsin and beyond. Loewen believes they’ve been successful so far.

“We’re still around making work today and the work is still outside the mainstream,” she said.

Many of Wild Space’s performances over the past 25 years have been with artists from many different, non-dance art mediums, including published poets, sculptors and photographers, and with visual art organizations like the Milwaukee Art Museum and Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. With each new collaboration, Wild Space takes advantage of the opportunity to expose their audience to new and exciting spaces and scenery.

Loewen sees Milwaukee as a great inspiration for her work and the performances Wild Space Dance creates. To her, Milwaukee is full of fascinating backdrops.

“I’ve been doing this for years and Milwaukee has been my muse,” she said. “I’m proud of bringing up places and spaces that audiences had no idea exist.”

Recognizable landmarks like the Milwaukee Art Museum and the historic Turner Hall Ballroom, along with the more obscure city treasures like the Holton Viaduct Marsupial Bridge, a pedestrian and bicycle path that crosses the Milwaukee River and connects to the Brady Street neighborhood, have all functioned as stages for Wild Space’s dancers. In addition, the group has performed both across the country, in places like New York, Minneapolis and Chicago, and internationally in Japan and South Korea.

The company’s latest performance, “In the Space Between,” will kick off their 25th anniversary season at the historic Pritzlaff Building Sept. 15. The performance is a collaborative effort with internationally known photographer Tom Bamberger.

The performance, which has been in the works since June, will highlight intimate dances in unusual places, accompanied by Bamberger’s art. Audiences will experience an interactive and creative piece while exploring the historic Pritzlaff Building as they watch Wild Space dancers appear in window seals and peeking around corners.

Bamberger’s photography for “In the Space Between” changes every second, manipulating reality and memories as the images shift and alter throughout the piece. Performers develop a partnership and move in sync with the images as they dance through the Pritzlaff.

Unlike most dance concerts, audiences will be able to move in groups and watch site-specific dances throughout the building. “In the Space Between” will allow the dancers to be seen in different spaces at different times, making the performance more realistic and personal to viewers.

“I like to put the human element in performances,” said Loewen. “I want dancers to look real. It won’t look like ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’”

“In the Space Between” takes place Sept. 15-17 at the Pritzlaff Building, 325 N. Plankinton Ave., at 8 p.m. Admission prices are $25 for premium tickets, $20 for general admission and $18 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased by calling 414-271-0712 or online at

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