bROOKERdANCE is a year-old modern dance company operating without a permanent performing space, but definitely with a mission. "Dance can be political, but it shouldn't be propaganda," says 24-year-old Rachel Brooker, the Durham-based troupe's director. "Bodies are so political that once you put them on a stage, it's automatically political." Brooker, who says she is most influenced by choreographers like David Dorfman, Tina Bausch, Shen Wei and Sabine Dahrendorf, is impressed by the improvisational style of dance in the '60s. "After the '60s, modern dance has a lot of freedom to combine media and put whatever you want on the stage," she says. "But within that freedom, people are losing direction. The people I'm interested in are those who're using that freedom to say something."
Brooker graduated in dance and biology at Swarthmore College, and moved back to the Triangle in 1999 to teach at the Carolina Friends School. Since then her "guerrilla dance troupe" has performed at Durham's Ninth Street Dance, the Durham Arts Council, and Carrboro's ArtsCenter. This fall, Triangle residents have two opportunities to help the fledgling troupe raise money to help establish a more permanent company, and to find a permanent performing space. On Sept. 15, bROOKERdANCE will perform at Carrboro's Sizl Gallery during the opening of Meeting of the Minds, an exhibition of new works by painter Anna Podris. Then on Sept. 21, at 8 p.m., the gallery will host a benefit for Brooker's emerging company, which will feature music and dance performances, visual and performance art, and audience participation. Funds for the benefit will go to support the company and October performances of Mirrorings Project, involving six dancers, and based on an essay by Lucy Grealy. Grealy's autobiographical essay discusses the trauma of growing up looking "different." After cancer of the jaw required the removal of part of her jawbone, Grealy's disfigured face forced her to confront an altered self-image. For details about the event, call Sizl Gallery at 960-0098, or Rachel Brooker at 530-1092.