Currents and Crossings
The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) Department of Dance presents Currents & Crossings, an evening of four dance works. The evening features a restaging of Brisk Singing by internationally renowned British chroegrapher Richard Alston, CBE. Faculty members Jessica Fogel, Sandra Torijano, and Robin Wilson create their own works for the program. The concert plays on February 5 at 7:30PM, February 6 & 7 at 8PM and February 8 at 2PM at the Power Center for the Performing Arts. Currents & Crossings features artistic direction by Judy Rice.
Highlighting the concert is Brisk Singing (1997) by British choreographer Richard Alston, CBE, founder and artistic director of the Richard Alston Dance Company (RADC). Internationally recognised as one of the most inspiring and influential contemporary choreographers in dance, Alston is renowned for having a very close relationship with his music, taking inspiration for his work directly from the music he uses and using the music as a point of departure for the choreography. “Brisk Singing epitomizes Alston’s style,” states Angela Kane, chair of the Department of Dance, who wrote her dissertation on Alston and has known him for 30 years. “It’s Richard at his most musical and refined: liberal expression of movement and demeanor; fast, fleet footwork; sweeping ensemble sections contrasted with close partnering in duets and trios; and a central male-female duet that is stunning and lusciously sensual.” The dance features intricate choreography and joyful music from the opera Les Boréades, by French Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau.
While SMTD dance students regularly work with esteemed American choreographers, the RADC residency marks the department’s first international collaboration. Rehearsals for the re-staging began November, with RADC rehearsal director and former company member Martin Lawrance along with Francesa Romo, a former RADC member and co-founder of Brooklyn’s Gallim Dance. The Alston performance and the residencies associated with it were the result of an “Internationalizing the Curriculum” grant from the U-M Center for Research on Learning and Teaching.
The concert begins with a pre-show interactive lobby performance-installation that transfers to the stage in choreographer Jessica Fogel’s Into the Wind. Newly adapted for the Power Center, Into the Wind premiered in Muskegon, MI in August, 2014, on the grounds of the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center, a site for offshore wind energy research in the Great Lakes. “The site captured my imagination,” states Fogel, “poised between a soon-to-close coal factory and a renewable energy center built on the vestiges of an old car factory. Muskegon’s story has resonance for communities in transition across the country — working to rebuild their economies and to move toward cleaner energy sources.” The score for the dance is a compilation created by composer Dave Biedenbender, which includes music, interviews of industrial plant workers, sound created from wind data by sonification consultant Robert Alexander, and a poem by Keith Taylor. Into the Wind features a scenic and costume design by Jeff Bauer and lighting design by Mary Cole.
Using a kite as a metaphor, choreographer Sandra Torijano speaks about exile, departure, and hope in her new work Travesía del Papalote (Kite’s Crossing). “The kite, while it is in flight, yearns for freedom and gives us hope to rise above,” states Torijano. “It unifies our human condition: our dreams and ideas sail, cross, suspend, and land. The kite’s sensitive gestures as it waves to us below nurtures our aspirations and gives peace.” SMTD graduate student Carolina Heredia compiled the score which features recorded music by Eddie Mora, Ingram Marshal, René Aubry, Terry Devine, Paul Motram, Philip Glass, and a poem by Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti. The dance features a scenic and costume design by Jeff Bauer and lighting design by Mary Cole.
Robin Wilson’s Bottletree Stories explores the tradition of “bottle trees” that can still be found in the yards of African-American families throughout the Carolinas and the Deep South. Often cobalt blue, the bottles dangle from tree branches – to confuse and capture “lost” spirits, who might otherwise enter the homes of the living. Intrigued by these traditions, Wilson’s dance depicts the stories of the spirits released from the bottles as they are shattered in the wind. The score for the dance includes recorded works by Detroit artist Regina Carter, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and DM Stith. Scenic and costume design is by Jeff Bauer with a lighting design by Mary Cole.
The Department of Dance offers two educational events in association with Currents & Crossings. Following the performance on Friday, February 6, 2015, there will be a post-performance discussion moderated by Dept. of Dance Assistant Professor Dr. Clare Croft and featuring the choreographers and members of the cast. Curtain Call Fridays offer an opportunity for audience members to talk with artists about each production. Sponsored by the Friends of Dance, the discussion is free and open to all.
On Saturday, February 7, 2015 from 6:45PM – 7:45PM, the Department will host a panel discussion, Transatlantic Connections: Restaging Richard Alston’s Choreography in the Power Center Reception Room. The panel will feature Associate Professor of Dance Christian Matijas Mecca, co-rehearsal director of Brisk Singing Jillian Hopper, and a Q&A between Kane and Alston. The panel discussion is free and open to all.
Ticket prices for Currents & Crossings are $28 and $22 reserved seating with students only $10 with ID. Tickets are available in person at the League Ticket Office, located within the Michigan League. The Ticket Office is open from 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday and 10am-1pm on Saturday. Order by phone at (734) 764-2538. All major credit cards are accepted. Tickets may also be ordered online at www.music.umich.edu. The Power Center for the Performing Arts, located at 121 Fletcher Street, is wheelchair accessible and equipped with an infrared listening system for hearing enhancement.
Story by Kerianne Tupac.