University Dance Company


Event details

A stamp, an opening out of a leg, a twist of the torso, a swing of the arms—Twyla Tharp uses motions that everyone knows, but the way she puts them together makes them excitingly new. Audiences at the UDC spring concerts will have the opportunity to see The Fugue,* a gem of Tharp’s early choreography. Three dancers move through twenty variations, some very brief, some a little longer, each one ending with a distinctive gesture. There is no music, but by the end of a minute, no one will miss it. The dance becomes its own visual and aural fugue. Tharp was recently celebrated as a Kennedy Center Honoree for her extraordinary choreographic achievement over the past four decades on the concert stage, on Broadway and in film.

Shawn Stevens reconstructed The Fugue for selected UDC dancers. A member of the New York City Ballet before joining the Tharp company and performing in Movin’ Out on Broadway, Stevens has the approval of the Twyla Tharp Foundation to stage works by Tharp. In addition to daily rehearsals, she taught master classes in Tharp-based modern dance and ballet during her residency at KU this semester.

Works by dance faculty members on the spring program take us in diverse directions that turn into a harmonious evening of dance. The program opens with Willie Lenoir’s Feet In the Soil, in which five dancers are called upon to perform African-influenced moves interspersed with modern dance moves. To the pounding earthy beat of “N’toum” by Armand Frydman and Dennis Hekimian and “Ijeilu” by James Asher, the dancers evoke a scene of ritual adoration.

Joan Stone invites the audience to step backward to the early 1700s to observe An Agreeable Gathering of Ladies in Motion. Stone has reconstructed a suite of dances from the workbook of the English dancing master, Kellom Tomlinson. Four ladies in period costumes display their intricate footwork along precise pathways to live accompaniment by musicians Hsun Lin on harpsichord and Christine Anderson on Baroque violin.

If you walked through Marvin Grove last October, you may have seen dancers moving among the trees and participant-observers recording the event, including your presence as a passerby. The improvisation took place over a two-week period as part of a KU interdisciplinary project, entitled “Trees and Other Ramifications: Branches in Nature and Culture.” Out of the Marvin Grove experience, Michelle Heffner Hayes has choreographed Other Ramifications, a work for thirteen dancers with music by Radiohead. The meditation on environmental impact transformed into an embodiment of branching activity, an exploration of human relationships—personal, cultural and global.

The spring program concludes with Moto Armonico, Jerel Hilding’s ballet in three scenes, set to Antonio Vivaldi’s “Concerto in b minor for 4 violins & cello” from L’Estro Armonico. The dance reflects the vigorous rhythms and dramatic tension established between the full orchestra and solo sections of the music.

Come and enjoy a harmony of diverse motions! The UDC Spring Concerts will take place at the Lied Center on Thursday and Friday, April 16 and 17, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the Lied Center, Murphy Hall, and SUA box offices: $10 public, $7 students and seniors. Call 864-ARTS (2787) for tickets.


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