It all starts in a studio. The right composition of student dancers come together with the right choreographers, and then, with the right amount of time, dedication, talent and technique, the Performing Dance Company (PDC) concert is crafted into a collection of new dance works. Showcasing the artistry of the Department of Modern Dance, the spring 2015 PDC concert premieres March 6 at the Marriott Center for Dance’s Hayes Christensen Theater.

With the choreographic vision of four faculty members, students ranging from freshman to graduate level have joined together to create a diverse show of inspiring new works that explore creativity, physicality, and humanity; making for an unforgettably exciting evening of movement.

“Together, the choreographers and dancers have teamed up to generate work that celebrates the insatiable quest to discover more about ourselves, each other, and the world around us,” Associate Professor and PDC concert director Sharee Lane said.

Faculty member Eric Handman observes a rehearsal for the upcoming PDC concert. Photo courtesy of Ching-I. 

Faculty member Eric Handman observes a rehearsal for the upcoming PDC concert. Photo courtesy of Ching-I. 

Associate Professor Eric Handman’s industrial, haunted, human work features six powerful, dynamic, virtuoso dancers set to three songs from 90s “trip-hop” pioneers–Massive Attack, as well as music by Olafur Arnalds, Alva Noto, and Ryuichi Sakamoto. A new quartet by Department of Modern Dance Chair and Professor Stephen Koester will include six separate duets—each embodying a different idea, aesthetic, and movement vocabulary. Assistant Professor Juan Carlos Claudio’s large group work explores chaos and structural beauty, interventions, spatial order, and disorder. Visiting Professor Daniel Clifton’s 13-cast piece features an exploration in a variety of movement, text, and music.

Students rehearsing choreography by faculty member Juan Carlos Claudio. Photo courtesy of Ching-I. 

Students rehearsing choreography by faculty member Juan Carlos Claudio. Photo courtesy of Ching-I. 

PDC provides professional level performing opportunities for undergraduate and graduate dance students, as well as showcases choreography from faculty and guest artists, focusing on the creation of new works and reconstruction of historical masterpieces. PDC performs two concerts each school year, with additional community and professional partnerships and performances.

The Performing Dance Company Concert opens March 6 and runs March 6, 7, 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m., and March 12 at 5:30 p.m. University of Utah students attend for free with their UCard. Other tickets are $8-$12. 

Photo by Chelsea Rowe

Photo by Chelsea Rowe

Date: March 22, 2015
Time: 7P
Location: Libby Gardner Hall (David Gardner Hall)
Free (no tickets or reservations required)

When Dean Raymond Tymas-Jones accepted the Utah Cultural Alliance’s 2014 Achievement Award this last December for his contribution to the arts in our state, he spoke to a packed and attentive audience in the UMFA Grand Hall about how art, specifically music, connected him to his family, his community, and his heritage.

And then he broke into song. A cappella. A Negro spiritual called “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child.” You could have heard a pin drop until the moment he finished, when the audience erupted in a standing ovation.

(Left to right) Hall Johnson, Harry T. Burleigh, and Roland Hayes - the three composers Dean Tymas-Jones will highlight in his concert

(Left to right) Hall Johnson, Harry T. Burleigh, and Roland Hayes - the three composers Dean Tymas-Jones will highlight in his concert

 “Culture,” he had said earlier, “is defined as the sum total of ways of living, built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to the next. It is through the prism of culture that our experiences as humans are contextualized.”

Tymas-Jones told the story of growing up in Washington, D.C. His dad was a preacher and his mom was a musician who directed the church choirs. Needless to say, religious music was their world.   

“The culture of the emancipated Negro community, as it was called in the 1950s, centered on faith and hope as expressed through song, storytelling, and dance,” Tymas-Jones said. “These expressions found their way in the New World in the fields, homes, churches, schools, and social halls. It was these activities, passed down from generation to generation that kept the African-American culture alive.”

It is that very notion that inspired Tymas-Jones’ upcoming concert as part of the School of Music’s Sundays@7 Faculty Spotlight series. That, and the idea that the work of our cultural organizations, including institutions of higher education, is to illuminate and preserve our human history.

On March 22 at 7PM in Libby Gardner Hall, Tymas-Jones will perform Songs My Mother Taught Me: A Concert of Negro Spirituals. He’ll be singing a collection of songs from composers Harry T. Burleigh, Hall Johnson, and Roland Hayes that highlight both Tymas-Jones’ youth and celebrates the legacy and contributions each composer had on the Negro spiritual genre. 

Posted
AuthorThe Finer Points

19 Youth Theatre Conservatory students from eight area high schools competed at the Musical Theatre Competition of America in Southern California this past weekend for the first time and returned with a 2nd place trophy in the Musical Theatre Revue Division with original music composed by their director, Penelope Caywood, as well as a 4th place trophy in High School Seniors Solo Division. For every event the Youth Theatre Conservatory students participated in, they placed for an award.

Other parts of the competition included a cattle call audition with 450 junior high and high school students for a final production number - for which two of our Youth Theatre students were selected -  and several workshops at Disneyland with area professionals.

Congratulations, Youth Theatre Conservatory students and to Director Penelope Caywood! 

Photo Courtesy of Penelope Caywood

Photo Courtesy of Penelope Caywood

Posted
AuthorThe Finer Points

In anticipation of this semester’s succession of Cinderella productions, The Finer Points will host a series of blogs to introduce the talented students and faculty responsible for these stunning events. This post is the first in the Cinderella Series. Special thanks to Allison Shir for creating this series.

This weekend marks the first of three Cinderella productions being performed in the College of Fine Arts. The School of Music’s Lyric Opera Ensemble presents Rossini’s La Cenerentola. Love conquers all in La Cenerentola, the charming re-telling of the Cinderella story, conducted by Joel Rosenberg. Audiences will root for the kind-hearted heroine, laugh at her step-sisters and father, and enjoy the lighthearted beauty of this well-loved tale, all set to Rossini’s effervescent music and comic mastery.

In mounting a well-known production like Cinderella, Dr. Robert Breault, Voice Area faculty member in the School of Music and Opera Director, noted La Cenerentola may feel familiar, but has fun differences. “The story of Cinderella normally involves a lot of magic, fairy godmothers, mice, magic carriages, etc., but we're not doing the Disney version. The Rossini opera is devoid of stage magic but does provide a lot of ‘music magic’ in its stead. The ‘magic’ is not missing however when you hear the singing and the orchestra!” Breault said.

Another element to make this opera stand apart from others is the staging with the Paradigm Orchestra. Musicians will be on stage with the opera performers, making this visually striking for audiences accustomed to orchestras being in their traditional pit below the stage.

Whether you love Cinderella and its classic tale, or if you don’t quite recall the details, this weekend’s La Cenerentola presents a rich cast of characters with powerful singing. If you’re not a regular opera-goer, Dr. Breault assures that with supertitles, you will not miss a word.

School of Music graduate student Ruth Ellis, who is directing La Cenerentola, said, “The story has been told over hundreds of years in multiple cultures and languages and is beloved by many people the world over. His version of it has a subtitle, ‘La Bonta Intrionfa’ which means ‘Goodness Triumphant.’ For me that really explains why everyone loves this story. The idea that good triumphs in the end – even if you are in a rough situation at home, at work, or anywhere in your life, good will triumph and there is hope.”

U of U students can attend this production for FREE with a valid student ID (thanks to the Arts Pass program). General admission is $10 at the door. Rossini’s La Cenerentola performs Feb. 13 & 14, 7:30 p.m. in Libby Gardner Concert Hall.