A subtle, oceanic sculpture and a contemporary piece of music by a Kansas University professor got Murial Cohan moving.
The abstract sculpture by Barbara Hepworth and the music by Edward Mattila the inspired Cohan's and Patrick Suzeau's "Pelagos,'' one of several dances to be presented Saturday by the Cohan-Suzeau Duet Company and the Kansas University Dance Company.
"It's really an essence of a seascape,'' Cohan said of the sculpture. "The dance is a kind of response in abstract to all it contains.''
The performance will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday at Yardley Hall at the year-old Johnson County Community College Cultural Education Center at College Boulevard and Quivira Road in Overland Park. It's a first for the University Dance Company and the second of three performances scheduled there this semester by department of music and dance companies.
"I THINK IT'S marvelous to be performing in a different space,'' Cohan said in a recent interview. "It really helps the students learn how to do pieces in a different space and to make them stronger.''
The University Dance Company will be repeating some of the works first presented in its fall concert last December. The works include "Interplay,'' choreographed by Suzeau, instructor of dance, which features six dancers; "Concierto Madrigal,'' by Suzeau and Cohan and featuring 12 dancers; "Suite Neuf'' and "Malaguena,'' ballets choreographed by Jerel Hilding, assistant professor of dance and former dancer with the Joffrey Ballet; and "First We Take Manhattan'' by Willie Lenoir, instructor of dance.
"PELAGOS'' MARKS the second time Cohan and Suzeau have taken music by Mattila, professor of music theory and composition, and used it as accompaniment for their work; the first, using a score specifically written for the duet, was performed last year. Cohan said a third piece will be performed April 21 in conjunction with the KU Symposium on Contemporary Music. "Pelagos'' uses music Mattila had already composed, Cohan said.
"The music has a mood that's powerful and magical,'' Cohan said. "There's a feeling of the sea in it. It adds a new element that's extraordinary.''
On a completely different note, Suzeau will perform "Diary,'' based on the prison diary of Egon Schiele, who was imprisoned for pornography. Cohan said the work speaks to current controversies over obscenity in art.
"HE WAS SO violated as an artist,'' Cohan said. "I think the dance is a response to what's going on in the world.''
Rounding out the program, Suzeau will perform an example of South Indian classical dance choreographed by Asha Prem, a native of India who performed at KU in a residency last fall.
A reception will follow the Overland Park performance. Tickets are available at the KU music and dance department office at 452 Murphy Hall in Lawrence, and in Overland Park at the theater.