A diverse mix of modern, jazz and ballet pieces, including celebrated works by Paul Taylor and George Balanchine and a newer work by jazz dance faculty member Brandi Coleman, will be presented at SMU Meadows School of the Arts’ Spring Dance Concert, April 5-9 in the Bob Hope Theatre at SMU.
The program opens with the short classical ballet Valse-Fantaisie (or “fantasy waltz”), choreographed by George Balanchine for New York City Ballet in 1967. The whirlwind dance features a lead couple and four additional women and is set to fast, light music by Mikhail Glinka, Russia’s first national composer. The music and dreamy, romantic costumes create a magical atmosphere in which the dancers seem to take flight. Deceptively simple in its steps and structure, Valse-Fantaisie is difficult to perform yet exhilarating to watch.
The concert continues with What We Do With Time, a rhythm-driven jazz work by Artist-in-Residence Brandi Coleman. The work is based in Jump Rhythm® Technique, a rhythm-generated system of dance training created by Billy Siegenfeld that focuses on percussive energy as a means of expressive dancing. Coleman is the associate artistic director of Jump Rhythm® Jazz Project (JRJP), an Emmy Award-winning performing and teaching company that celebrates the communal core of jazz performance: dancing, scat-singing and storytelling in rhythmically syncopated conversations. What We Do With Time is a quirky, emotion-infused, tongue-in-cheek commentary on stress overload as it impacts one’s journey from isolation to communal engagement.
Concluding the program is Paul Taylor’s masterwork Mercuric Tidings, described by New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff as “a dance that seemingly bursts into song.” Set to symphonic music by Schubert, it is alternately physically propulsive and elegantly introspective, making it one of Taylor’s most demanding yet poetic creations. Nationally acclaimed dance alumna Annmaria Mazzini, who recently retired from the Paul Taylor Dance Company after a dozen years as one of PTDC’s principal dancers, spent three weeks at SMU helping train and prepare the students for the concert. In addition, alumnus and current Taylor company principal dancer Michael Trusnovec provided coaching for three days in February while he was in Dallas for a PTDC performance at the Eisemann Center.
“Mercuric Tidings demands a speed, strength and navigational skill that pushes its performers to their athletic and mental edges,” said Mazzini, who is now resident choreographer of the American Modern Ensemble and artistic director of the Mazzini Dance Collective in New York. “Achieving this as an individual is the first step, but when every dancer embodies the power and purpose of the entire 13, it becomes pure Taylor magic. It’s so wonderful to see that happening for these dancers. Their collective exuberance is palpable and thrilling, and the joy they are exuding is absolutely genuine, contagious and beautiful to behold!”
Spring Dance Concert performance times are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and $8 for students, SMU faculty and staff. The Bob Hope Theatre is located inside the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 214-768-2787 or visit meadows.smu.edu.