Department of Dance presents annual Winter Gala concert

contact: Megan Slayter
| WMU News
Photo of four ballerinas dressed in white dresses with white hair pieces with their arms crossed over holding hands.

'Swan Lake'

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Department of Dance will present its annual Winter Gala dance concert Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 1-3, in the Shaw Theatre at the Gilmore Theatre Complex. Performances are at 8 p.m. on all dates with a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday, Feb. 3.

This year's program will include WMU dance students performing dances by Great Works Dance Project featured artist Paul Taylor, as well National Choreography Competition winner Brendan Duggan. Including ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz and tap dance styles, the concert also features performance by the Department of Dance's touring ensemble, Western Dance Project, as well as faculty and student choreography.

About the concert

Great Works Dance Project

The Great Works Dance Project brings works of the highest aesthetic standards to southwest Michigan, highlighting innovative artists of the past, as well as today's contemporary choreographers. This year's Great Work is Paul Taylor's seminal work, "Esplanade." In 1957, Taylor, inspired by the sight of a girl running to catch a bus, created a masterwork based on pedestrian movement. If contemporaries Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg could use ordinary "found objects" like Coke bottles and American flags in their art, Taylor would use such "found movements" as standing, walking, running, sliding and falling.

In 2011, WMU's Department of Dance developed the National Choreography Competition to identify and recognize emerging choreographers and bring their work to campus. Students have the opportunity to work with the winning artist on the creation of a new dance. This year's NCC winner is Brendan Duggan. Originally from Amherst, New Hampshire, Duggan is a New York-based dancer and choreographer. He was also co-founder and co-director of LoudHoundMovement, a contemporary dance collective based in Brooklyn. His new work, "HAUNT," will represent WMU at the American College Dance Association East-Central Conference at Ohio University in March and will be performed at Gibney Dance in New York City in May.

Guest choreography

WMU's touring ensemble, Western Dance Project, will perform the work "Threshold" by guest artist Christian Denice. Denise danced professionally with River North Dance Chicago, Montgomery Ballet, Freensboro Ballet and Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal.

Faculty choreography

Professor Sharon Garber has restaged excerpts of the classical ballet "Swan Lake," choreographed by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa in 1895 to Tchaikovsky's rich musical score. Dance faculty members David Curwen and Jeremy Blair, each explore the current divisive social climate in their new choreography. Curwen's "Falling Table" uses Thanksgiving dinner for a very large family as metaphor to explore "The American Family" while Blair's "Harbor" uses the restorative processes found in nature as a metaphor for reconciliation between people.

Student choreography

Dance and nursing major Kendall Owens created "Friday After 5" to celebrate tap dance and jazz music and capture the feeling of freedom after a hard or stressful time. This dance premiered in the fall Orchesis Dance Concert and will be performed at the American College Dance Association East-Central Conference at Ohio University in March.

Tickets

Seating is reserved and ticket prices are $20 for general audiences; $15 for members of Partners in Dance, seniors, and WMU faculty and staff; and $8 for students. To purchase tickets, contact the Gilmore Ticket Office at (269) 387-6222 or visit wmich.edu/dance/events. Tickets also are available at the door before each performance.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.