WMU Department of Dance to present a Winter Gala of Dance

January 14, 2014

KALAMAZOO, MI—The Department of Dance at Western Michigan University will present its Winter Gala Dance Concert in the Laura V. Shaw Theatre of WMU’s Gilmore Theatre Complex January 30-31 and February 1, 2014. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Jan. 30-31 and Feb. 1 with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Feb. 1. Admission to the concert is $20 for adults; $14 for faculty, staff, seniors and Partners in Dance members; and $7 for students. Reserved seating is available in advance by calling the Gilmore Ticket Office at (269) 387-6222 or at the door before each performance.

This year’s program will include two Great Works dances, two guest artist pieces, four faculty works, and three dances by student choreographers. Under the auspices of WMU’s Great Works Dance Program, choreographer and performer Peter Chu has created a new work, One Sound Looking Back, for 18 WMU dance majors. Mr. Chu is Artistic Director of chuthis., a project-based contemporary dance company that he formed in 2008, and has danced with distinguished companies such as BJM Danse, EZdanza, and Kidd Pivot. Recipient of the prestigious 2010 Capezio A.C.E. Award for Choreography, Mr. Chu’s works have been performed worldwide. He has choreographed works for Naomi Stikeman’s Caturn, the ARTV series in Quebec, the ninth and tenth seasons of "So You Think You Can Dance," Houston Met Dance Company, Orlando Ballet Theatre, and the Netherlands Dance Theatre Summer Intensive. In a unique form of collaborative composition, Mr. Chu created "One Sound Looking Back" by molding his explosive, contemporary style of movement around the individual personalities and strengths of the WMU dance students. Heightening the idiosyncratic nature of the work, "One Sound Looking Back" is also set to music composed and produced by Djeff Houle specifically for the piece.

New York-based choreographer and performer Gabrielle Lamb’s new work, "Ritournelle," will also be presented under the auspices of WMU’s Great Works Dance Program. A highly acclaimed choreographer, Ms. Lamb was awarded the 2009 National Choreographic Competition of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the Grand Prize in Milwaukee Ballet’s 2013 Genesis International Choreographic Competition; BalletX, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ballet Memphis, Ballet Austin, among others, have presented her work. Ms. Lamb was a soloist at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal for nine years prior to joining the New York-based company, Morphoses, in 2009. Inspired by her reading of Jennifer Homans’ best-selling survey of ballet history, Apollo’s Angels, "Ritournelle" portrays a quasi-personal account of Ms. Lamb’s history in ballet:  “Beginning with images of instruction, repetition and mentorship, ["Ritournelle"] continues through scenes of alienation and fierce competition and finally softens into acceptance and reconciliation,” she explains. Along with her personal experiences, evoking a similar creative process to that of Mr. Chu, Ms. Lamb indicates that “the strong personalities of the nine dancers shaped this series of vignettes” and relates that central to the creative process shared between her and the students was “a shared love of this incredibly difficult art form.”

The program will feature two commissioned works by guest artists. Eddy Ocampo, a choreographer, master jazz teacher, Artistic Director of Forum Dance Theatre, and Co-Artistic Director of LEVELdance has created a new work, "Linea," for the members of WMU’s touring ensemble, Western Dance Project. "Linea" is the second commissioned work of Mr. Ocampo by the Western Dance Project, following the highly successful "piDgeon" in 2012. Seattle-based choreographer, teacher, Artistic Director of badmarmarDANCE, and WMU alumna, Marlo Martin has choreographed her new piece, "look at me with your eyes wide shut," for the 27 sophomore dance majors. Nuanced, cool, yet highly athletic, "look at me with your eyes wide shut," employs a wide variety of movement that works to express the myriad experiences and concomitant emotions associated with the concept of being seen.

Adding stylistic breadth to the program are four new works by WMU faculty members. "Ravenfeather" is a collaborative, contemporary dance work including music composed and conducted by Hartford-based Daniel Morel, live musical accompaniment by students from the School of Music, costuming by Kate McKenzie from the Department of Theatre, artwork by RosaLee Ward from the Frostic School of Art, and choreography by Kirsten Harvey. The piece was created on the principles of memetics. Within the context of a rehearsal process, the meme or unit of culture (idea, pattern of behavior, cultural norm) was observed and choreography was developed through the reproduction of the meme from dancer to dancer. Harvey’s work is supported in part by a grant from WMU’s Cultural Events Committee. Sharon Garber has choreographed a new ballet duet, "Entrechat," which also features School of Music musicians:  Bradley Wong, clarinet, and Helen Lukan, piano. Carolyn Pavlik has created a new modern dance, "It Takes Two," for 10 dancers that portrays the complex nature of relationships within the simplicity of human interactions. Blending various styles and genres of dance as well as drawing inspiration from other great works of fine art, David Curwen’s "Working Memory," set to J.S. Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor, is a sprawling work. The work is organized into three contrasting sections:  the first section echoes George Balanchines’s "Concerto Barocco"; the second section embraces a theatrical context, mixing conceptions of heaven and a girl on a swing; and the third section feeds off the visceral attack of Bach’s music to create a large complex structure of movement and style.

Completing the program, senior dance majors Connor Cornelius, Jesse Hoisington, and Emily Rayburn have had their work selected for the concert. Cornelius’ work, "My Hyphen," is an intimate duet illustrating her relationship with her father. Hoisington and Rayburn have both choreographed solo dances. Hoisington’s piece is titled, "A Biddable Breed," and Rayburn’s poignant work, "Corey’s Promise," examines the rippling effect of a single broken promise.

For additional information, call (269) 387-5830.