Metro Weekly

Spotlight: Jane Franklin Dance’s ‘Sense of Place Rhythm and Sound’

Timely dance series at the Athenaeum takes inspiration from the art of Michael Spears

jane franklin dance, dance, athenaeum
Jane Franklin Dance: Sense of Place, Rhythm and Sound

Last week, the Athenaeum in Old Town Alexandria opened Michael Spears — Visual Music: Rhythm and Melody, an exhibition featuring abstract works that the local Black artist created with the intent of evoking a sense of the music that largely inspired them — whether that be the jazz reflected in “Kind of Black,” a recent work that also incorporates his reflections on the Black Lives Matter movement, or the R&B of an earlier series of works titled “The Influence of Religion in Rhythm and Blues of the ’60s and ’70s.”

Next weekend, the Athenaeum’s exhibition of Spears’ mixed-media works will be further complemented by a virtual program of choreographed movement from Jane Franklin Dance. The innovative Virginia-based dance company’s Sense of Place Rhythm and Sound is a timely series with dance pieces both conveying the limitations of the gallery’s physical boundaries and our era’s social distancing protocols while also taking inspiration from the rather loosely defined, vibrant nature of Spears’ art, and also from what will be heard accompanying the movement.

Jane Franklin Dance: Sense of Place, Rhythm and Sound

Specifically, the thoughtful, healing music of Luna, a singer-songwriter duo of Valeria Stewart and Kathleen Huber, plus a sound score that weaves Spears’ spoken-word descriptions about his creative process into original music from the band Future Prospect featuring saxophonist Trey Sorrells.

“I want to visually create what the sound of music accomplishes — an emotional grandness, a magic that connects,” Spears writes in his official Artist Statement. He further elaborates on his creative process: “Listening incalculable times to a select piece of music while using oil or mixed-media, my resulting abstracts are rooted in intuitive marks and shapes from the spontaneous interpretation of a piece’s rhythm and melody.”

Saturday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m. Suggested donation of $10, with registration required to obtain Zoom link. Donations of $20 and above will also grant a VIP code for a free Vimeo on Demand performance. Visit

Michael Spears — Visual Music: Rhythm and Melody runs to Feb. 21 at the Athenaeum, located at 201 Prince St., in Alexandria, and open Thursdays through Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.. Call 703-548-0035 or visit

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