WMU News

Concert of Dance offers something for everyone

Jan. 16, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- What do a revolving door, knitting needles, Christmas carols, classical ballet and Tarzan have in common? They are all ingredients of the Winter Concert of Dance, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 26-27.

This year's Winter Concert of Dance will be held in Shaw Theatre at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26, and at 2 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27. A pre-concert discussion will begin prior to Saturday's matinee at 1:15 p.m.

Tickets are available by calling the Gilmore Theatre Complex at 616 387-6222. All seats are reserved. Tickets are $14; $10 for senior citizens and WMU faculty and staff, and $5 for students.

WMU's Department of Dance offers an eclectic blend of styles, with choreography by guest artists, faculty and students. The Winter Concert of Dance is an excellent opportunity to get acquainted or re-acquainted with the art of dance.

The works of two guest choreographers will be featured in the concert. Frank Chaves' Grusin Suite is a high-energy combination of classic jazz and quirky comedy. Chaves unites pulsating, precise ensemble work, and comic relief to give traditional jazz a unique spin. Frank Chaves is currently co-artistic director of Chicago's River North Dance Company. Grusin Suite is in the repertory of several professional companies.

Rick McCullough recreated his Ceremony of Carols for our student company, the Western Dance Project. This work was inspired by the music of Benjamin Britten.

"It's music I've loved for a long time," says McCullough. "Last year I wanted to do a contemporary Christmas Concert and this work immediately came to mind. It strikes me as both religious and secular at the same time. Both joyous and celebratory, it manages to be deeply spiritual and introspective at the same time. I see this dance as a gathering of spiritual sisters, assembled to offer and share a glimpse of their feelings, thoughts and personal longings."

McCullough is a former principal dancer with Nederlands Dans Theatre and winner of numerous choreographic awards. He currently freelances from his home in Winston-Salem, N.C.

WMU faculty members have choreographed a collection of dances that offer something for everyone, from the sublime to the unusual. In the sublime category is the Pas de Trois from "Swan Lake," staged by Sharon Garber, associate professor, after Marius Petipa. Choreographed for two women and a man, all three dance in the opening. There are also solos for each of the dancers and a climactic coda of virtuoso dancing for all three.

Me Tarzan, You Jane! by ballet instructor David Curwen is certainly unusual. This work is a whimsical look at the differences between the sexes. Curwen says the dance "contrasts the soft and delicate purity of female classical dancers with the rough and tumble athleticism of our male dancers." The "Janes" will dance to Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring while the "Tarzans" will dance to Ogoun Badagris by Christopher Rouse performed live by Western's Percussion Ensemble, directed by Judy Moonert.

Professor Nina Nelson's theatrical presentation, Hannah, uses narration, dance and music to describe memories of her Swedish immigrant grandmother. The students performing in this piece have not only been rehearsing their dance, they've been practicing their knitting, a skill that Nelson has incorporated into the humorous and touching vignettes about an independent and resourceful woman.

Professor Lindsey Thomas has chosen a revolving door as the centerpiece of her jazz piece, Revolving Soles. It's a brisk movement interpretation of Latin jazz music, which explores a possible shift in attitude between entering and exiting a revolving door.

The Winter Concert of Dance also includes a work by student Kristen Legg, a junior in the BFA program. She has choreographed a compelling modern dance, oliveyou, which explores the many facets of love. Legg's dance will represent WMU at the regional American College Dance Festival at the University of Illinois in March.

Media contact: Jane Baas; 616 387-5833; jane.baas@wmich.edu

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