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Unrestrained & mesmerizing

By Kerianne Tupac

The University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, Department of Dance presents Dancelucent 2012, an evening of three works by faculty members Bill DeYoung, Peter Sparling and Robin Wilson, and a restaging of Dance #1 from Lucinda Childs’ groundbreaking 1979 work Dance.

The concert takes place 7:30 p.m. February 2, 8 p.m. February 3 & 4,  and 2 p.m. February 5 at the Power Center for the Performing Arts. Dancelucent 2012 features artistic direction by Judy Rice, lighting design by Mary Cole, and costume design by Suzanne Young.

Opening the program is Been A Long Time by Professor Bill DeYoung, a high-energy work that embodies the bold, unrestrained culture of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s most defiant era. “This is the kind of dance that I would liked to have performed as a young dancer and would jump right in today if I could…,” stated DeYoung. “It’s an athletic walk down memory lane, from some of the early rock n’ roll that had a sweetness, an innocence to it like a perspective of falling in love, holding hands and all that. Then it got a little darker; Led Zepplin came along and we all got crazy (we still are a little, but we keep a good façade going) and then it brings us up to date to dancing on the volcano and the whole cycle of risk taking.”

In his new work, Forest Through the Trees, Peter Sparling explores the overlay of video, movement imagery, and the word — specifically of Gertrude Stein’s text from The Making of Americans. UM Theater Prof. Annette Masson’s performance as Stein accompanies a cast of 14 dancers in this panoramic movement essay on identity, repetition and the fragmented lyricism of the modernist legacy. Music for the dance includes works by local composer Frank Pahl and Thollem McDonas.

Robin Wilson premieres Lightmotifs which reflects questions about death and, more importantly for Wilson, what happens afterward: “Concepts from my own spiritual traditions rooted in African American culture and writings on near-death experiences by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and others kept bringing me back to the idea of ‘light.’” This work for thirteen dancers explores ideas from the mundane to the spiritual; moving from the tongue-in-cheek to the earnest, and ending with the celebratory. The score for the dance ranges from Meredith Monk, to Parliament, to the St. Augustine Gospel Choir of Washington, D.C.

Highlighting the evening is Dance #1, the twenty-minute first section of Dance, by guest artist Lucinda Child. Featuring music by Philip Glass, Dance #1 creates an evocative juxtaposition of past and present, weaving repetitive motion into complex patterns in a minimalist style that remains as vibrant and edgy as when it first premiered. Childs created Dance #1 after collaborating with Glass and Robert Wilson on the 1976 opera, Einstein on the Beach, which is currently being revived under the auspices of UMS at the Power Center. “Dance is stunning,” states Department chair, Angela Kane, who recently saw the full-evening work performed by the Lucinda Childs Company in London. “It’s a tour-de-force for the dancers, the aerobic and rhythmic requirements are tremendous. In the first section, increasingly complicated phrases and intricate patterns build to an exhilarating, mesmeric climax.”

Following the performance of Dancelucent 2012 on Friday, February 3 will be Curtain Calls, a post-performance discussion moderated by Rice and featuring members of the cast and creative team. Sponsored by the Friends of Dance, Curtain Calls are free and open to all.

Ticket prices for Dancelucent 2012 are $26 and $20 reserved seating with students $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 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.

Kerianne Tupac is marketing/communications director at University Productions, University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.