Oxford has always been well known for its literary greats and musical geniuses, but dance is an art form rarely seen or publicized around town. Now, things are about to change.
This weekend, Hinge Dance Company, LLC, presents “Calm/Hysteria,” its fifth show as a company and second as a business, bringing a few insane extensions and perfect pirouettes to The Powerhouse.
Co-owners and artistic directors Lydia Siniard and Lindsay Fine are Ole Miss alums with lengthy dance training in multiple forms, including ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and modern. After dancing at the university for years, the two have reunited to form a local dance company to serve the community and bring dancing into everyday conversation.
Siniard came to college from Cartersville, Ga., prepared to retire her black leotard and pink tights after years of living and breathing dance, until she saw a flyer for an adult ballet class. Soon, she was dancing and teaching across Oxford and northwest Mississippi, immersing herself in the local opportunities while hoping to expand the dance community.
“Anywhere I could find dance, I jumped on it,” Siniard said. “Whether it was dancing with 60-year-olds or 16-year-olds, I wanted it—and I knew if I wanted it, someone else had to want it, too.”
Fine, Ole Miss alum and adjunct faculty from Huntsville, Ala., recently returned to Oxford and jumped on the chance to join forces with Siniard after dancing together previously.
“It was something new and innovative happening that hasn’t happened in Oxford before,” Fine said. “Young people joining together and having creative freedom.”
After spending about a year as a student-led company, Siniard graduated with a bachelor’s in English, but her love for the company only grew stronger. When she was presented the opportunity to take the company off campus and create a small business, she saw the break as the best way to expand the company and provide the community with a form of art rarely seen in Oxford.
With three strong and well-attended productions under its belt, Hinge took to the town and found a space at The Powerhouse on University Avenue that was suited for its future plans.
Along with the dance show itself, Hinge also works to gather local artists to encompass and highlight all forms of art by hosting a silent auction in conjunction with the show, including mediums from poetry to paintings. Artists are invited by current company members and include such locals as Ole Miss professor Anne Fisher-Wirth, among others.
Fine is not only a talented dancer, but also a brilliant musician and singer. To incorporate more forms of art into the show, she is singing one piece, choreographed by law student Jesse Kelley, while playing acoustic guitar. The decision can be risky, since dancers depend on counts and live music can change daily without warning, but the directors agree the decision will only heighten the quality of the show.
“We like to do it because it’s something different that’s rarely done,” Fine said. “Being a dancer and doing the music part as well is a chance to use both of those creative parts in the show.”
Hinge aims to produce two to three shows a year, one each semester and occasionally summer, and has recently instituted company dance classes for both members and non-members. They plan to offer members-only classes in the spring, along with classes for the general public taught by multiple members of the company.
“As a dancer, you need to constantly focus on technique and work on the basics,” Siniard said. “Sometimes, people get intimidated by the title ‘company class’ and think if you’re not in the company, you couldn’t hang with it, but that’s not true.”
Taylor Thomas, recent alum from Vicksburg, was with the company from the start as both a choreographer and a dancer and has been part of every show except one. Last month, she came back to Oxford for a weekend to set a piece for the upcoming show, still longing to be a part of a company she helped build.
“Hinge gave me my first opportunity to choreograph without restrictions, and that’s what I’m most grateful for,” Thomas said. “Over the past couple of years, it has been the home of many dance experiments—mine, the choreographers and all of the dancers. I think that is the essence of Hinge and why all of us remain so passionate about it.”
Sam Damare, senior musical theater major from Southaven, shares that passion and has been with the company for most of the shows in some capacity. Even when he was unable to dance because of scheduling conflicts, he often choreographed pieces for the show that he rarely got to see.
“Hinge creates an almost family-like environment while working on each show,” Damare said. “This company has given me so many great opportunities to express myself as a choreographer and a dancer, all while building wonderful friendships I hope will last a lifetime. I couldn’t wish for a better group for what may be my last opportunity to work with this beautiful group of people.”
Beyond dancing and entertaining, the members of Hinge meld together in a familial way, bonding and being silly in rehearsals while working endlessly to perfect the pieces.
“There are so many dancers at Ole Miss that have the desire, the talent, and just assumed it was time to hang up their shoes in college,” Siniard said. “Hinge offers a different style of dance, a different intention, a different purpose. The way we rehearse, the way we produce shows is completely different from anything else offered in Oxford.”
Tickets for “Calm/Hysteria” can be purchased through The Powerhouse in advance or at the door. Table seating is available with a reservation. For more information, call The Powerhouse at 236-6429 or visit the company’s website at hingedancecompany.com.
@ The Daily Mississippian — Oxford, Miss.