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07 novembre 2007

KU’s Dance Company Previews Fall Concerts

Twyla Tharp’s Torelli headlines the University Dance Company’s 2007 fall concerts. Tharp came to national prominence with her choreography for the films Hair and Amadeus and the Broadway shows Singing in the Rain and Movin’ Out.

With Torelli, she has given dance companies permission to stage a work from a DVD. KU dance faculty members Jerel Hilding, who performed in three Tharp works as a member of the Joffrey Ballet, and Patrick Suzeau, are guiding students through the process of learning the dance, set to Giuseppe Torelli’s Concerto in d minor. Choreographed in 1971, it illustrates the early Tharp style. Eight highly structured movement phrases begin the dance and form the basis for the subsequent improvisations by the dancers.

New offerings by the dance faculty will spin the performance in a variety of directions. This past summer, KU dance professors Muriel Cohan and Patrick Suzeau witnessed the ecstatic celebration of the summer solstice in Lithuania. Interspersed with ubiquitous pop music, ancient polyphonic chants could be heard. In their choreography for Cycles, Cohan and Suzeau attempt to capture the poetry and wild abandon contained in these chants. The dance features Suzeau as a soloist. Suzeau also has choreographed an exuberant ballet for five dancers to the music of Bela Bartok. He plays with rhythms and fast-paced energy in his Pas Très Classique, which is not altogether très classique.

Michelle Heffner Hayes, associate professor of dance, will perform a traditional Soleá, choreographed by Kansas City flamenca Miel Castagna, with live guitar accompaniment by Beau Bledsoe. Soleá is one of the basic flamenco song forms, from which many others descend. Majestic and lean, Soleá explores soledad, an intimate, often painful or ironic solitude. The dancing develops like a slow-burning flame with displays of intense carriage of the arms and complex footwork.

Hayes also takes a new look at an old Greek myth in Cradling Persephone to music by Peter Gabriel and Bjork. Placing Persephone at the center of the narrative, the work for eleven female dancers explores adolescence as a point of entry into the adult world. Through the athletic partnering and phrasing of the voluptuous movement, the piece imagines a space of transcendence beyond the moment of trauma.

Willie Lenoir, instructor of dance, takes us in yet another direction with After the Harvest. Lenoir himself says: “About the dance—the harvest is over. Three young women decide it’s time to celebrate. No more tilling the soil! No more planting! No more reaping! The party is on!” --

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