Choreographer Matthew Farmer of the Hope College dance faculty has earned recognition as a finalist for the 2018 Arlin G. Meyer Prize in Performing Arts sponsored by the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts for his original work “Dieser Ort.”
He was one of three finalists for the prize, who along with the winner were announced during the Lilly Fellows Program National Conference, held at Hope on Friday-Sunday, Oct. 12-14.
The Arlin G. Meyer Prize is awarded biennially to a fulltime faculty member from a college or university in the Lilly Fellows Program National Network whose work exemplifies the practice of Christian artistic or scholarly vocation. This year’s emphasis on the performing arts recognized authors of creative work that emerged from their practice of the vocation of the Christian performing artist, in accord with the principles and ideals of the Lilly Fellows Program.
“Dieser Ort” (German for “this place”) explores the issues of identity of self, identity in society/culture and ultimately one’s own identity in life. The 55-minute work is a fusion of modern and contemporary dance.
Performed by the college’s H2 Dance Company, “Dieser Ort” premiered at the international 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, where it earned critical acclaim — as did the company, which was the only group out of the 22 in its venue to receive three professional reviews. Broadway Baby described “Dieser Ort” by saying “The music alone is worth going to hear and its intensity is amplified and powerfully interpreted in this deeply expressive work.” TV Bomb said that the dancers “have a huge energy and throw themselves into what is, after all, a challenging work, with great panache,” and one4review said that “The dancers are clearly talented, and particularly so in the acting aspect of the performance.”
Farmer is an associate professor of dance and department chair at Hope, where he has taught since 2011. He is also the co-artistic director of R.G. Dance Productions and the co-artistic director of H2 Dance Co.
His former roles include serving as director of dance at Anderson University; as the associate director and a company member of LehrerDance; and as a company member of The Peter Sparling Dance Co. He has been a soloist and guest performer with numerous dance companies and at festivals, and has been an invited guest teacher, throughout the U.S. and abroad. His choreography has been produced by many venues and organizations, including the Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers, Dance in the Desert Festival, Mid-West RAD Festival, Anderson University, Eastern Michigan University, Anderson Young Ballet, Chelsea Youth Dance Theatre, Musiker Productions, Spezio Dance Dynamics, Men Dance Michigan, Next Step Dance and Oakland University.
The Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts seeks to renew and enhance the connections between Christianity and the academic vocation at church-related colleges and universities. The prize honors the late Arlin G. Meyer, professor emeritus of English at Valparaiso University, who directed the program from its inception in 1991 until he retired in 2002. In addition to the performing arts, award categories through the years have included non-fiction work, the visual arts, imaginative writing and musical performance.