The best dancers are blessed with the ability to move gracefully under the influence of an inner or an outer rhythm.
"It's a rhythm in the body," says Jerel Hilding, an assistant dance professor at Kansas University and one of the choreographers for the University Dance Company.
"It's a quality that makes you able to move pleasingly and expressively. You can't do that without coordination in movement, and it requires a certain amount of rhythm."
"Dancers can dance in silence, and their bodies listen to the music inside," said Patrick Suzeau, a choreographer and KU instructor of dance.
Hilding's and Suzeau's works will be among the fare at the company's fall concert, which will be performed Friday and Saturday at KU. The concert promises to provide a variety of rhythms and dance styles in a decidedly light vein.
"THIS ONE is more diverse than any time before," said Muriel Cohan, an assistant dance professor whose work will be featured in the concert. "We have a ballet number, which is classical dance, we have (Asian) Indian and modern dance. You can't get more diverse than that. It's kind of light, too, which is unusual for us."
Suzeau and Cohan began teaching at KU in the fall of 1989, and Hilding started this semester. They'll be presenting their own choreography as well as the works of outside artists and a graduate student.
Internal and external rhythms get a workout in "Six Miniatures," the final piece on the program, Hilding said. Using three dancers, the new work takes styles from classical ballet and brings them into contact with six preludes by Alexander Scriabin.
"THERE'S A theme and an emotion involved with each section," said Hilding, who was a principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet in New York before coming to KU. "The music isn't really in a strict tempo. There are a lot of pauses. The dancers have to tune themselves to the music. . . .
"There's a timeless quality to the music. The composition became more and more involved in my thinking. It was like composing in the mist very dreamy and impulsive at times."
Suzeau uses a different set of rhythms and motions for "Invocation," an East Indian classical dance that features intricate footwork and hand gestures.
"It's an art form that goes back thousands of years," Suzeau said. "Spacially it's quite complex, and it has a very articulate hand movement. It's also exciting rhythmically, and it all meshes, so you have coordinated hand and body movement. It's a kind of dance that appeals to bodies with low centers of gravity. What I'd like to do is to introduce this dance to Lawrence, to bring it here in a concert."
COHAN USES the frenetic rhythms of cities in her new work, "Urban Rituals," which opens the performance. The piece uses music by Nigel Westlake.
"Urban Rituals uses more people than I've used for a while," Cohan said. "I'm using a combination of very skilled dancers and less experienced dancers. It's basically a light piece. It does comment, as the title suggests, on the kind of movement in an urban environment. The music suggests a frantic pace."
And in "For Liz," a duet created by dance lecturer Willie Lenoir, the crescendos and unusual cadences provoke movements and feelings. The dance is dedicated to Elizabeth Sherbon, KU professor emeritus of dance.
"What's happening in the music is also happening in the movement," said Michelle Heffner, a senior who will dance with Lenoir. "It fills the movement with special qualities."
OTHER WORKS in the program include:
"Cinderella," which Cohan will perform, takes a twisted look at the fairy tale.
"Weaving," Suzeau's new dance taken from the music of Oswaldo Lacerdo and Seigfried Fink.
"Turning In, Out and Around," a solo piece created and performed by Michelle Brown, a graduate teaching assistant.
The University Dance Company concert will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Crafton-Preyer Theatre in Murphy Hall. Tickets are available at the Murphy Hall Box Office.