Thursday, September 13, 2007
The extraordinary choreographer, dancer, writer and architect Gus Solomons Jr will be in brief residence at Mills College next month as part of a tour sponsored by the Phi Beta Kappa Society's Visiting Scholar's Program. During his stay he'll offer a public lecture he calls “50 Million Ways to Make a Dance” and will discuss the evolution of his choreography over his 40-year career. The event takes place at Danforth Hall on the campus Thursday, October 4, at 5:15 pm and is free and open to all.
The Boston-raised Solomons took up dance at the Boston Conservatory of Music while at MIT studying architecture, working with Jan Veen in Laban technique and Robert Cohan in Graham. After getting his architecture degree, he moved to New York to dance. He launched his career with Donald McKayle, Pearl Lang, Joyce Trisler and Paul Sansardo then danced with Graham for a season. Soon he pressed on into the kind of late modernist terrain that would come to define his work. He spent from 1964-68 with the Cunningham company, during which time he originated roles in "Winterbranch" and "Rainforest." In 1971 he formed his own troupe, the Solomons Company/Dance, to explore dance as "melted architecture," linking his love of puzzles and design to forms that he has called "kinetic autobiography," according to historian Thomas DeFrantz. In 2000 he was awarded a "Bessie" for sustained achievement in choreography.
On a side note, Phi Beta Kappa is that society for select brainiacs who display excellence across disciplines and open-minded curiosity. It was started at the venerable College of William & Mary in 1776 (16 signers of the Declaration of Independence attended, and George Washington got his surveyors certificate there). The Greek initials Phi Φ(F) Beta (B ) and Kappa (K) - represent the motto "Love of learning is the guide of life" (philosophia biou kubernetes).
On another and architecturally pertinent note, the small case Phi, φ, represents the Golden Mean in math--1.618--drawn from the ratio of 1 plus the square root of 5 over 2 and defines the harmonious division of a line as understood by the ancient Greeks. Many architects live by its elegant proportions.