BERKELEY -- Kathryn Roszak is an artist whose work defies the boundaries of a single genre.
When the choreographer and Danse Lumière Artistic Director presents "Secrets on the Way" at Berkeley's Osher Studio on April 27 and 28, a transatlantic fusion of dance, visual art, theater and the Nobel Prize-winning poetry of Sweden's Tomas Tranströmer will occur.
Like most collisions, sparks will fly, bodies will be tossed, damage -- the sort that bends imagination and torques preconceived notions into transportive beauty -- is likely to release a flurry of audience chatter after the applause has ended.
Which is exactly what the former San Francisco Opera Ballet dancer intends.
"I always go to theater hoping I will be changed," she says, during a break in a company rehearsal at her new Arpeggio Building digs downtown.
After 11 years running a dance program for children and teens at Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center, Roszak is thrilled to push her East Bay roots to new depths in the spacious, sparkling Studio B.
"We're near BART, Berkeley Rep -- and we have a theater right next door," she says. "Plus, did you see the hallway with all the art?"
Add an eclectic cast of musicians, a crop of literary icons both dead and alive, all of the celestial constellations, the Golden Gate Bridge and you might have everything that is Roszak's oeuvre.
Noted for its elegant elaborations based on literary and scientific themes and works, Danse Lumière has a mind-boggling range. The company performed at the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, collaborated with UC Berkeley astronomy fellow Bethany Cobb and found purpose beyond pirouettes in exploring the mind of Emily Dickinson.
"We're not about movement invention for invention's sake," Roszak suggests. "It takes years for me to make these pieces; they have to be bigger than an ego. They must be rich and varied to hold my interest."
Lately, Tranströmer has held Roszak spellbound with his highly visual, intensely-clear, psychological poetry.
"His images are striking," she says. "The drama in this piece I am working on now is the conflict between natural and urban worlds."
Roszak says her company is not "trendy," but notes that 100 people attended a recent open rehearsal indicates she has an audience.
Turning her attention to the dancers, she urges, "Get closer, use each other more."
Roszak wants tension, insecurity, discomfort and a feeling of danger to pervade the piece.
Nitipat Polchai, his lithe body built more for fluidity than rigidity, manages to create a beautiful struggle. Lissa Resnick, a longtime associate of Roszak, adds expressive, articulate focus as she claws an invisible layer of skin from her torso and turns a pat on the back into a neurotic physical tic.
"Art is what will allow us to go forward in life, even if we can't see where we are headed," Roszak says, more to herself than to her dancers.
The music, thus far, has been European film tracks and jazz, so a section of the dance set to a Franz Schubert composition is shown. Ancient echoes of spirits and birds fill the movement and spin a misty, is-this-memory-or-reality atmosphere.
Soon enough, the dancers are back to explosive counterparts and Roszak is encouraging risk, saying, "It's not sylphlike. It's much more rigorous!"
In the hallway, before the rehearsal, Roszak had tenderly shepherded little girls in pink-on-pink dance attire, shushing their young chatter and gently responding to parents' questions. Now, she pounds her foot and moves to demonstrate her physical intention.
The contrast is not remarkable, as most dance professionals survive by assuming the varied roles of teacher, choreographer, administrator, marketer, grant-writer and more. But it's notable and admirable. And when it brings joy to young and old, novices and experts, it should not go unacknowledged.
Roszak, more focused on a dancer's ear realistically tilting to hear a surreal, passing train than on the attention from a visitor, is lost (but actually, found) in her element.
"Most dances keep going and going, but they're not meaty enough," she says. "Even if people have not read a book I am using, or these Tranströmer poems, they will leave with a feeling. Everyone is bound, except for one, who reaches to the sun, spiraling into silence."
"Secrets on the Way" will be performed at 8 p.m. April 27 and 2 p.m. April 28 at Kathryn Roszak's Danse Lumi re Osher Studio, 2055 Center St. in Berkeley. Details or tickets: 510-233-5550, 800-838-3006 or www.dlkdance.com.