WSU Spring Dance Concert offers energy, fascination and focus
By SUE SUCHYTA
Celebration is the theme of Wayne State University’s 85th annual dance concert, which opened Thursday and runs for one more performance at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28, letting choreographers and performers show case their drive, focus and hard work to audiences.
The Spring Dance Concert features faculty, guest artists and student choreographers working with the three dance companies on campus.
Performances are at the Bonstelle Theatre, 3424 Woodward at Eliot in Detroit.
For tickets, call 313-577-2960 or go to www.wsushows.com.
Seeing collegiate showcases like “Celebrate” is light-years away from the competition dance world where many of the dancers honed their skills. Numbers do not fall into tightly controlled timeframes with perfectly synchronized moves and flawless costumes. Instead, they allow both choreographers and company dancers to try new things, push themselves, be inventive and take creative risks.
“Past (The Third) Redux,” choreographed by Professor J. M. Rebudal in collaboration with the dancers uses selections from Philip Glass and Musique to personify the work. Dancers use a bare stage without any drops, in clothes they might wear to a rehearsal, which compels you to focus on the dance, its energy and messages. Dancers perform as a company and in pairs, even deliberately kicking through drifts of faux snow for a strong group impression at the show’s beginning.
Student choreographer Adam McGaw begins and ends a female dance trio in silence, adding music later, and has them adjusting each other’s positions in a symbolic tug-of-war between conformity and individualism. The performing dance trio includes Audrey Johnson, Ashlee Merritt and Stephanie Napiorkowski.
Bach would register amazement at dances performed to his musical works in “Hissy Fits.” In it, five couples displayed an athleticism and grace while pairing to guest artist Dwight Rhoden’s talent.
Partner work is showcased again in the second act in “Far Beyond the Endless,” with a music blend eclectic enough to combine Phil Glass and Itzhak Perlman, plus other composers. The dancers blend themes of lost love, heroism and sacrifice to Meg Paul’s modern ballet choreography. Christa Koerner's costumes are elegant and simplistically stunning.
Grace again takes the spotlight in “Lucidity,” choreographer Christina Chammas’ work with a female trio to music of Olafur Arnold’s “Near Light,” which also began and ended in silence with dancers Shanice Rollins, Lydia DiIorio and Audrey Johnson.
“New Beginnings,” an African dance with a diverse cast choreographed by Amaniyea Payne, with a trio of live African drummers on stage, is fun to watch and sets toes tapping.
“Halcyon,” choreographed by senior and BFA dance major Michelle Brock, again uses partnering to great effect, providing an ongoing physical struggle between the dancers.
“12 Inch Familial,” choreographed by Nicholas Leichter, again relies on pairing to best portray the strength, energy and sensual moves showing loves lost and found throughout the telling.
For more information, go to www.theatre.wayne.edu.