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Performing Arts

Ann Arbor Dance Works 32nd annual season

By Jessica Fogel

Ann Arbor Dance Works' 32 annual season will feature exciting new and recent dance works performed by guest artists, faculty, alumni and students.

Ann Arbor Dance Works, the resident professional dance company of University of Michigan’s Department of Dance, presents its 32nd Annual Season, featuring exciting new and recent dance works choreographed and performed by guest artists, faculty, alumni and students. The concerts include a new work by NYC’s cutting edge choreographer Shannon Gillen; a recent work by Bulgarian dance theater artist Tzveta Kassabova; an innovative screen dance by prolific choreographer Peter Sparling set to John Adam’s China Gates; a recent work created and performed by Take Root Dance Company co-directors and U-M alumni Ali Woerner and Thayer Jonutz with musician/composer Jon Anderson; a new work performed by U-M alumni Colin Mysliwiec Raybin and Michael Spencer Phillips set to Scriabin preludes performed by pianist Shalva Vashakashvili; and a new multi-media duet by U-M alumni and avid improvisers and choreographers Sean Hoskins and Molly Paberz.

The performance will be held on Tuesday, September 26 at 7:30 PM in the Betty Pease Studio Theater, located in the Dance Building, 1310 N. University Ct. Ann Arbor. The Dance Building is attached to the Central Campus Recreation Building. Seating is limited. Advance ticket purchase is encouraged.

Tickets are $10 for the general public, and $7 for students/seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at or by visiting the Michigan Union Ticket Office (MUTO), located on the ground floor of the Michigan Union, 530 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, (734) 763-8587. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door on the day of the performance, beginning at 6:30 PM.

More about the performances:

The concert features a new work for 14 talented U-M Dance majors by innovative NYC dance theater choreographer Shannon Gillen, artistic director of Vim Vigor Dance Company. The work was developed collaboratively with Gillen’s five company members over a two–week residency at U-M in May 2017. Acclaimed as “vastly gifted” choreographer by DanceBeat critic Deborah Jowitt, Gillen aims to create works that feature highly physical movement and compelling theatrical imagery.

Tzveta Kassabova will perform one of her recent solos. Named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch Out For” Kassabova is described by Dance Magazine as “a tornado of ecstatic momentum sweeping across the stage….Tzveta Kassabova’s movement quality is surreal, as if Salvador Dali himself painted her into existence. The Bulgarian–born gymnast-turned meteorologist-turned-dancer/choreographer/designer is a prolific maker and mover.” Kassabova recently joined U-M’s Theatre and Dance faculty after several years performing and choreographing in NYC and Washington, DC.

Peter Sparling presents his new screen dance, Clonal Renderings 2: Canon in 2 x 3. Composed for the screen as a three-part canon of the same duet occurring 8 seconds apart and exploring the same horizonless void, Clonal Renderings 2 weaves its spell against clips of found film footage. Propelled by John Adams’s driving score, China Gates, performed and recorded by U-M Dance pianist Edith Lin, the dancing replicas of Sparling multiply and disappear, moving back into infinite depth and forward, eventually climbing out of the frame. Sparling is the Rudolf Arnheim Distinguished University Professor of Dance at U-M and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Dance.

Co-directors and co-founders of Take Root Dance Company, based at Oakland University, Ali Woerner and Thayer Jonutz will perform an excerpt from their 2015 work Ink, with music composed and performed by Take Root Composer and musical director, Jon Anderson. The duet is based on the short story “Ink,” written and read by Kathleen Pfieffer: “I needed some mark, some evidence that he had existed, that our awkward sibling intimacy was more than a figment of my imagination; I needed something besides the looming bully of his absence. My own remembering was too isolated and memory alone wasn’t enough. I wanted proof and I wanted it in Ink.” Woerner and Jonutz received their MFAs in Dance at U-M, and subsequently joined the Dance faculty of Oakland University.

Two U-M Dance alumni Colin Mysliwiec Raybin, who danced in NYC for over a decade and is now based in South Bend, Indiana, and Michael Spencer Phillips, a New York City-based professional dancer and choreographer, will perform a new duet entitled Valet and Vanity, set to a series of Scriabin preludes. The preludes will be performed live by notable pianist, Shalva Vashakashvili who hails from the Republic of Georgia.

Taking contrast, incongruity, and even blatant disagreement as its point of departure, the multi-media duet Would You by Sean Hoskins and Molly Paberzs follows both dancers from bold singularity to welcome interdependence. The dancers create and resolve tensions with intersecting bodies amid layered sound, creative use of a projector, and a sandwich board. Hoskins and Paberzs hold MFAs in Dance from U-M and began working together in 2013. Avid improvisers and choreographers, they head into new compositional territory with this duet.

About Ann Arbor Dance Works:

Formed in 1985, Ann Arbor Dance Works is the resident professional dance company of the University of Michigan Department of Dance. The company shares a wide-ranging repertory with audiences in an annual season and in community performances. In addition to producing works by resident faculty choreographers, the company hosts guest artists from the US and abroad. Designers, poets, videographers, visual artists, musicians and composers collaborate with company members, contributing to the creation of innovative and multi-layered works of resonance, depth, and beauty. Performers include faculty, guest artists, alumni, and current Dance students. Since its inception, Ann Arbor Dance Works has produced choreography to critical and popular acclaim in New York City, throughout the Midwest, and internationally. The company has also presented several large-scale site-specific dances with a variety of Ann Arbor community partners. Artistic Director for the company is Jessica Fogel.

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