A nontraditional dance student at Kansas University has already had her day on Broadway.
Christine Colby-Jacques is not your typical Kansas University dance student. Just how many other students have done high kicks with the Rockettes or appeared on Broadway?
Colby-Jacques is in the middle of her fifth semester at KU and will perform for the first time Friday and Saturday as part of a University Dance Company concert. She will perform " ... stop that!," a two-minute jazz solo she choreographed.
"It's a mix of pure jazz movement with lyrical lines and musical theater influences," she said. "It's exciting and lively but also elegant."
Colby-Jacques has been stuck on dance since age 6. In her early teens, she was accepted into the apprenticeship program at University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music to study tap, ballet and jazz. She studied and performed modern dance with the Contemporary Dance Theater in Cincinnati, and toured for a year with "Disney on Parade."
"My goal was to go to New York," she said.
So she saved her money for about a year and moved to the Big Apple, where she took a job at a nightclub and met two Rockettes. The dancers suggested Colby-Jacques try out for the high-kickers. She did and was hired. Her stint with the Rockettes lasted about two years.
"I did four shows a day (with the Rockettes) and then two shows at the nightclub," she said. "We rehearsed between breaks."
During this time (at the age of 21), she became involved with the Luigi Jazz Center, where she learned a jazz technique that "moved from the inside out" and incorporated elements of ballet.
Colby-Jacques performed with Luigi's company and taught at the center, where she heard auditions were being held for a new Fosse show. After three auditions and callbacks, she was hired for "Dancin'" and her career really took off.
She performed in "Dancin'" for three years, was hired to do an "I Love New York" promotional campaign, appeared in the movies "Annie" and "A Chorus Line," danced in Fosse's revival of "Sweet Charity," appeared on television specials with Bob Hope and Placido Domingo and was the Danskin spokesperson in promoting "The Magic of Dance," a PBS special hosted by Dame Margot Fonteyn.
In 1990, Colby-Jacques moved with her husband to St. Louis, and then a year later to Kansas City, Mo. She began teaching at the State Ballet of Missouri, and decided she wanted to return to college to earn a bachelor's degree in dance.
Her goal these days is to teach at the college level.
"I want to work with professionals or young people serious about being professionals," she said. "I'd love to have an impact on them."
The rest of the program
Other works that will be performed at the University Dance Company's fall concert are:
- "Blossom of Fire," a trio choreographed by KU dance instructor Patrick Suzeau, performed to "Ibu Trish." Using constant spirals and set to a score for gammelan instruments, the dance explores movement as a pathway to mystical experiences.
- "Journey from the Towers of the Moon," a trio choreographed by KU dance instructor Willie Lenoir, to music from "Towers of the Moon" and "String Quartet #3 (`Mishima')." The two-part work has three dances moving continuously as they travel back and forth, side to side and in circles, only interrupted when two of the dancers exit and the third performs a solo of listening.
- "Winding Pathway," choreographed by KU associate professor of dance Muriel Cohan and performed by Suzeau. Cohan's work suggests the mythic journey of a hero. An interactive sculpture by Dennis Christilles, KU assistant professor of theater and film, creates a landscape for Suzeau's performance.
- "Broken Threads," choreographed by Joan Stone and performed to "Balletti Lamentabili." Stone's work fuses modern and Baroque dance as seven dancers evoke a community of mourners, calling upon dance to help ease their pain.
- "Proa (`The Prow')," choreographed by Suzeau and performed to "Katharsis."Based on a painting by Mexican artist Santos Balmori, the work is performed by Cohan and inspired by the female figures used on the prows of ships.
- "Womansong," a quintet choreographed by Cohan to music performed by Hedningarna, a Swedish vocal group. With sharp accents and building force, the dance echoes the raw power and earthiness of the music.
- "Tangazo," choreographed by KU associate professor of dance Jerel Hilding and performed to "Tangazo." Hilding's work for 12 women and three men is an exploration of the sensual and bewitching qualities of the early tango.
-- Jan Biles' phone message number is 832-7146. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.