Concert mingles light, dark sides of dance

The light and dark sides of dance will mingle next weekend at the Lawrence Arts Center when the Prairie Wind Dancers present an Evening of New Works.

The show will spotlight works choreographed by members of the dance troupe. Performances are Friday and Saturday at the center’s theater.

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The performance will have something to please nearly everyone, said Candi Baker, artistic director of the company, because upbeat, lighthearted pieces will mix with more serious works.

“You feel very satisfied after leaving the show because you’ve laughed and cried, so to speak,” she said. “You will be moved emotionally and moved intellectually.”

Baker’s own piece will be one of the serious works as she gives the audience a sneak preview of a project she is working on for October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Baker is recruiting area artists for the October show, the concept of which is still in progress.

For next week’s show, the company will dance to poems read by Lawrence writer Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. She wrote the poems while she fought breast cancer and they chronicle her experience from finding out about the disease, through chemotherapy and to eventual recovery. Dancers also will perform to “Wings,” by Kelley Hunt, a singer and songwriter from the area. Hunt lost a childhood friend to breast cancer and has been involved in the cause ever since.

Baker, a breast cancer survivor, said she is putting the show together now largely because she is approaching five years in remission, a common measurement of survival rates.

“I was looking at an event a Monte Ray artist had done in California, and it struck me that it was time to look at this through my art,” she said.

Susan Warden, modern dance trainer for the company, will provide another dark piece for the performance. “Incoming” combines the music of Arvo Part with the humming of helicopters, which eventually drown out the music.

“There’s a beautiful thing happening that keeps getting interrupted by an ominous thing in the background,” Baker said of the piece.

Warden also choreographed one of the lighter pieces for the show, called “Romp.” In it, a playful, exciting dance will accompany the music of Bach.

Kimber Andrews, director of Prairie Wind Dancers II and a dancer in the upcoming show, said the performance was a rare opportunity to see the talent Lawrence has to offer. She said the troupe was in high demand throughout the Midwest and did as many shows out of town as it did in Lawrence.

“Lawrence is definitely a small town for live dance to happen in,” she said. “But we have some of the best dancers and choreographers in the area. It is an excellent assemblage of talent.”

Other works in the show include:

  • “In the Cards,” by Deborah Bettinger, ballet trainer for the company. In this spoof of a card game, four women playing a hand of cards turns into a battle between the queens of each suit, eventually won by the Queen of Hearts.
  • “Interludes,” by Andrews. Four short dances to a variety of music explore small moments of life.
  • “Whatdaheckisda Polka,” by company member Ellie Goudie-Averill. Complicated footwork and spatial patterns with a series of polka pieces sets this work apart from the average polka.

Michael Ingle, company member, also will also contribute a piece that has yet to be named, which will combine sweeping movements with staccato jumps to the music of Phillip Glass.

Other regular dancers in the troupe include Mary Shahrokhi, Jennifer Wilson and Sarah Grunwaldt. All have, or are working toward, degrees in dance or art.