WMU News

Concert of Dance features works of Graham, Balanchine

Feb. 4, 2004

KALAMAZOO--The Department of Dance at Western Michigan University presents its annual Winter Concert of Dance at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, and at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, at Chenery Auditorium.

Admission is $16 for adults; $12 for seniors, Partners in Dance, and WMU Faculty and Staff, and $7 for students. Seating is reserved, and tickets are available in advance by calling the Gilmore Ticket Office at 269 387-6222. Tickets are also available at the door.

The concert will include works by legendary choreographers Martha Graham and George Balanchine, as well as student, faculty, and alumni choreography. The concert will feature two masterworks: "Steps in the Street" from the suite "Chronicle," by Martha Graham, and "Who Cares?" by George Balanchine. The selections present a contrast between the modern techniques developed by Graham and the neo-classical ballet of Balanchine.

This year marks the centennial of Balanchine's birth, and many companies in the United States and around the world will be performing his works.

"Chronicle" is a piece in three sections, set to the music of Wallingford Riegger and danced by an all-female cast. "Steps in the Street" is the second section, and features two soloists and a chorus, with the entire cast costumed in identical black dresses. The dance is characterized by powerful and austere choreography, with many dramatic unison passages. The piece confronts such issues as homelessness, war, and devastation.

"Steps in the Street" was staged for this performance by Gary Galbraith, principal dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company and one of this year's featured Great Works guest artists. Galbraith is currently a principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company and also serves as associate professor of dance and artistic director of Mather Dance Center at Case Western Reserve University.

Balanchine's "Who Cares?" is a lighthearted collection of dances set to the music of George Gershwin. Selections to be performed include "Strike Up the Band," "Who Cares," "Liza," "I Got Rhythm" and others. The cast features a duet with corps de ballet. "Who Cares?" was staged for the George Balanchine Trust by Guest Artist Fiona Fuerstner. Fuerstner has served as ballet mistress of the Milwaukee Ballet and the Pennsylvania Ballet, and was principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens and the Pennsylvania Ballet. Fuerstner is renowned for her teaching, coaching and mastery of the Balanchine repertory.

Fuerstner and Galbraith have been in residence at WMU various times during the year to rehearse the Great Works and teach master classes.

The Graham and Balanchine dances are this year's selections of the Great Works Dance Project, established in 1996. The Great Works Dance Project introduces WMU students and southwest Michigan audiences to world class historic and contemporary dance works, and brings choreographers and guest artists to WMU to stage and rehearse these masterworks.

In addition to these Great Works, the concert will feature "La Locomotora Asesina," a driving, dramatic work by Peruvian alumna Morella Petrozzi. Faculty member David Curwen will premiere a new ballet set to the viola music of Max Reger, and faculty member Derrick Evans will premiere "Cruz Control," a piece with sassy Latin dancing and daring partnering. The concert will also feature a dance by Nina Nelson titled "Fields of Motion," which was created for the University's Centennial Celebration to music by WMU Professor Richard Adams. Dance majors Mary Miller and Cheryl Powers will also present works on the program. WMU dance students will perform all works.

For more information, call the WMU Department of Dance at 269 387-5830.

Media contact: Liz Caldwell, 269 387-5830

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