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A Rhapsody in Blue, choreography by Alex Sanchez
 
 

 

Featuring three world premieres by acclaimed choreographers Takehiro Ueyama, Alexander Sanchez and Dwight Rhoden

 

Three world premieres by internationally acclaimed choreographers, each set to a well-known 20th-century musical work, will be showcased at the 2019 Spring Dance Concert at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, March 21-24. The Meadows Dance Ensemble will present Takehiro Ueyama’s Heroes, set to John Adams’ The Chairman Dances; Broadway choreographer Alexander Sanchez’s interpretation of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue; and Dwight Rhoden’s vibrant ballet Stellar Matter, set to an orchestral suite from Gustav Holst’s The Planets.

The concert opens with Ueyama’s Heroes, a work for 12 dancers, including guest artist and alumnus Albert Drake, that combines powerful athleticism and delicate gestures drawn from the choreographer’s Japanese heritage. It is set to composer John Adams’ 1985 work The Chairman Dances, an imagined foxtrot for Chairman Mao Tse-Tung and his bride, Chiang Ch’ing, which Adams called a warmup to his opera Nixon in China. Ueyama, a former Paul Taylor dancer, has created a piece that he said honors the dedication and perseverance of citizens who played a crucial role in Japan’s recovery after World War II and are driving its success today. Ueyama has won multiple awards for his choreography, which has been inspired by the beauty in nature, the duality of darkness and light in the universal human condition and the humanity and compassion in day-to-day living.

The program continues with A Rhapsody in Blue, set to George Gershwin’s famous 1924 composition combining jazz rhythms and classical music. Award-winning choreographer Alexander Sanchez, known for his work both on and off Broadway, has created a new group work that follows the narrative of two young immigrants arriving in New York in the 1920s to pursue the American dream. Sanchez, who has directed and choreographed for numerous New York and regional theaters, was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 artists to watch” in 2016 and has been praised by critics for works that are “whimsical,” “spectacular” and “wildly ingenious.”  

Concluding the program is Stellar Matter by Dwight Rhoden, co-founder and co-artistic director of New York City-based Complexions Contemporary Ballet, set to three of the seven movements from Gustav Holst’s The Planets – Mars, Uranus and Jupiter (1914-16). Holst said the pieces were suggested by the astrological significance of the planets. Rhoden has created an abstract interpretation of the composition, describing it as combining “the power and strength of Mars, the illusion and deception of Uranus, and the vibrancy and liveliness of Jupiter.” Complexions Contemporary Ballet has received numerous awards, including The New York Times Critics’ Choice Award, and has toured the globe.  Celebrated for his choreography and wide-ranging collaborations with well-known dance artists, Rhoden has created over 80 ballets for Complexions and for numerous other major companies, earning distinction from The New York Times as one of the most sought-out choreographers of the day.

The Spring Dance Concert takes place in the Bob Hope Theatre in SMU’s Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd., Dallas 75205. Performance times are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and $8 for students, SMU faculty and staff. Free parking is available in the Meadows School parking lot at Hillcrest and Binkley or in the garage under the Meadows Museum. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 214-768-2787.

NOTE:  This program will be offered again at the Winspear Opera House on April 4 at 8 p.m. for “Meadows at the Winspear,” the annual fundraising event for the Meadows School of the Arts, with the Meadows Dance Ensemble performing with the acclaimed Meadows Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Paul Phillips. Proceeds from the event provide scholarships for the Meadows Scholars Program, aimed at recruiting the brightest and most talented students to SMU and Dallas. “Meadows at the Winspear” tickets are available at TicketDFW.com or by calling 214-871-5000. For additional information, visit smu.edu/winspear.

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