Professional Figure Skater Jennifer Wester Changes Up the Sport for Soluna

courtesy Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Professional skater and multimedia artist Jennifer Wester will present the world premiere of the performance art piece Breaking Shadows on May 19.
Dallas music and performing arts festival Soluna returns next month for its fourth year with the theme "Shadow and Light."  The Dallas Symphony Orchestra's three-week celebration of music and art is May 6-28 in various locations throughout Dallas.

Professional skater and multimedia artist Jennifer Wester will present the world premiere of Breaking Shadows on May 19. The 40-minute piece of ice skating performance art will take place on a miniature ice rink that she designed for the parking lot of the Cedars Union in southern Dallas.

"Breaking Shadows creates an experiential commentary on the often-overlooked components of the self that make up the whole," Wester says. "The piece employs ice skating as the medium to explore the play of shadows of the self, and the viewer watches as the skater’s form flows through space simultaneously in motion and motionless."

After hearing the theme of this year's festival, Wester considered how shadow and reflection are used as a guide when skating. She says she had "spent years in connection with a shadow and that a shadow shows no facial expression." Wester designed a white sectional backdrop that uses reflectiveness and light to break, bend and make multiple shadows behind her as she skates. This gives the impression that she is interacting with multiple faceless iterations of herself.

Wester competed internationally for the U.S. figure-skating team for five years. When she stepped outside of the strict structure she knew as a figure skater, she began to explore a variety of artistic forms, including using skates in painting and laser etching.

"With the restrictions removed, the movement has been freed up," she says.

Breaking Shadows is an extremely demanding physical performance in which Wester wears skates on her feet and hands. She says she is interested in exploring what the body can do, and she stands on both her hands and her head during the performance. She practices yoga and aerial silks workouts, a form of acrobatics done while hanging from fabric, to prepare for the demanding performance.

 An ethereal musical soundtrack will accompany the performance. Wester worked with Baz Laarakkers, a sound artist from Holland, to create a composition filled with the crackling sounds of ice made by the core destruction caused by skating. The handgrip skates that Wester made for this performance also provide a percussive element.

The performance will be at 1201 S. Ervay St. There will be video projections on the brick walls on either side of the parking lot to activate the entire space.

Tickets for Breaking Shadows are $19.