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Archive for Saturday, April 26, 2003

KU dancers light up stage

April 26, 2003

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The University Dance Company swept centuries and genres Thursday and Friday in its spring concert and proved yet again that a diverse repertoire doesn't have to come at the expense of expert technique.

Regular patrons of the Kansas University dance troupe's performances saw Muriel Cohan's "Accents" and Jose Limón's "Choreographic Offering" for a second time; the group first mounted the works at their fall concerts. Though repeat performances could have left viewers overstuffed, the dancers' delivery of the lively choreography tasted more like dessert.

Twenty dancers in brilliantly hued unitards flooded the Lied Center stage with springlike color, curling in and then unfolding like hovering butterflies in the Limón work. Beau Hancock danced the demanding solo in Cohan's "Accents" with grace and athleticism.

Two new numbers on the program were the product of a February residency by choreographer Bill Evans. He taught the company "Remembering," his response to the events of 9-11, and "Yes, Indeed!" a playful tap dance that grew out of a time when he and a fellow choreographer couldn't drag themselves out of their chairs.

In "Remembering," dancers in black and gray entered in a slow line, heaving upward then dropping their weight toward the floor with heavy sighs. Dim spotlighting from strategic positions conveyed the effect of dust in the air, and less subtle lighting cast twin towers of light behind the dancers. Gestures moved from jerky and fractured to smooth, with dancers occasionally banding together to lift fallen soloists. The piece projected well what Evans said he experienced after the attacks: a recognition of profound beauty in the midst of sadness and pain.

The dancers in "Yes, Indeed!" emerged from a groggy state, slumped in folding metal chairs as if tapping in their sleep, to a high-energy, cat-calling contest of one-upmanship that was a real crowd pleaser.

Another whimsical moment came in the midst of a set of Renaissance dances reconstructed by Joan Stone. After two courtly pieces performed by dancers in period costume, Meeyoung Jung inserted her fluid Korean version of a "Basse Danse" in front of an ensemble dancing the traditional version, and Matt Abbick and Jun Kuribayashi put a hilarious hip-hop twist on a "Pavane."

Patrick Suzeau's ironic "Two to Tango" paired Abbick and Kuribayashi in a collaboration that incorporated martial arts gestures with serpentine movements in a dance of egos.

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