They dance to a wide spectrum of music, from the folk tunes of the South American Andes to folk-influenced modern works by Bartok and Shostakovitch.
And in working with these varying forms of music, the choreographers of Kansas University Dance Company's spring concert hope to create a synthesis of movement, melody and rhythm.
"I love the music," said Patrick Suzeau, a KU dance instructor and choreographer performing with the company. "It's like a dialogue: You take the music and actually play with it."
SUZEAU AND the company will perform a number of his works during this weekend's concert. He will present "Pas Tres Classique," a dance using classical ballet techniques set to the music of Bela Bartok, as well as "Aquarelle," a duet with his longtime collaborator and fellow KU instructor Muriel Cohan and "Le Dormeur du Val," or "The Sleeper in the Valley," a work based on a poem by Arthur Rimbaud with music by David Gregory.
Suzeau said he and Cohan, who have been working together since about 1970, have gradually developed their own styles of choreography. Those styles allow them to work in several ways using music or texts they find appealing.
"The whole history of modern dance is our influence," Suzeau said. "We arrive at a personal language. We both have. Of course, in the case of ballet, that is not a personal language."
Cohan said she also sees a dialogue working between the music and movement in "Sonatina," the work she choreographed for the concert. The dance features music by Malcolm Arnold.
"His music is just gorgeous," Cohan said. "He's still living. It's in a sonneta form, so it has three different textures."
IN ADDITION to Suzeau's work, the concert will feature:
"Family Tree," which was choreographed by visiting artist Dina McDermott and uses Andean folk music.
"Sonatina," a quintet by Cohan, with music by Malcolm Arnold.
"Virtue's Dilemma," choreographed by Joan Stone from a 17th century treatise on courtly dance.
"Turning In, Out and Around," choreographed by graduate student Michelle Brown to music by Bill Easley.
"Conjurin," choreographed by graduate student Willie Lenoir.
"Trash Impact," staged and danced by Brown and Michelle Hyde to music by Edward Matilla, a KU music professor.
SUZEAU AND Cohan began working at KU last fall, after touring with their own company and working as artists-in-residence across the country. They said they find the KU program especially good to work in because the students in the University Dance Company have ability and experience.
"Some of the dancers have professional experience, and so they are ahead of many students," Suzeau said. "They're a pleasure to work with."
The company will perform at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday in Crafton-Preyer Theatre in Murphy Hall. Tickets are available at the Murphy Hall Box Office.