DeSales Dance Ensemble Concert Features Slate of World Premiere Dances

by Roseann Damico Schatkowski | Feb 24, 2016

DeSales Dancers Rehearse Trekking

DeSales Dancers Rehearse TrekkingDeSales Dancers Rehearse Trekking 

The division of performing arts at DeSales University is pleased to announce the capstone event in the 2016 dance season, the Dance Ensemble Concert opening Friday March 18 in the Main Stage theatre of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts.

The DeSales Dance Ensemble showcases a spectacular slate of original choreography by the esteemed choreographers on the Dance Department faculty. And, continuing its commitment to historically significant masterworks, this year’s concert will feature a restaging of select movements from the legendary ballet choreographer Antony Tudor’s “Dark Elegies.”

“Dark Elegies” made its world premiere in February 1937 by Ballet Rambert at the Duchess Theatre, London, England. The work is danced to the Song Cycle ‘Kindertotenlieder” (“Songs on the Death of Children”) by Gustav Mahler and consists of five songs to lyrics by Friedrich Rückert.

Tudor described this work as his favorite ballet. And many consider it to be his greatest. From tender moments of quiet devastation to careering bursts of rage, Tudor’s “ballet requiem" expresses the raw emotion of a tight–knit community faced with the inexplicable loss of their beloved children.  

According to Sally Bliss, trustee of the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust, "'Dark Elegies' became his greatest work. The rest of the ballet world was still primarily a place for fanciful creatures and worlds, while 'Dark Elegies' presented the all too real grief of a parent for a lost child.”

“The Dance Department was honored to have been awarded the rights to reconstruct portions of "Dark Elegies" says John Bell, head of the division of performing arts. “It is our distinct privilege to be trusted to offer this remarkable and rare experience to our student dancers and patrons ‘Dark Elegies’ is considered by many to be one of the foremost dance masterpieces of the last century, often hailed as one of the great achievements of psychological modernism in ballet.”

Antony Tudor (1908-1987) was a legendary English ballet choreographer working in the early and mid-twentieth century. Tudor made his professional dancing debut in 1929 and would go on to dance for such master choreographers as Michel Fokine and Frederick Ashton. His choreographic career spanned nearly 40 years and included long associations with American Ballet Theatre, the Swedish Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet. Along with George Balanchine, Antony Tudor is seen as a principal transformer of ballet into a modern art.

DeSales’ reconstruction of the Tudor work is being staged by Kirk Peterson, a répétiteur with The Tudor Trust. A répétiteur is a specialist with intimate knowledge of the repertoire who is selected to teach the movement as well as the interpretation of the roles to the company performing a dance. Mr. Peterson has had a distinguished career with American Ballet Theatre as principal dancer, choreographer, artistic director of ABT II, ballet master, principal character artist and master teaching associate, among other notable appointments.

The Dance Ensemble Concert will also feature works choreographed by dance faculty members Angela Sigley Grossman, Julia Mayo, Tara Madsen Robbins and Trinette Singleton as well as a piece choreographed by guest choreographer Jessica Chen.

Dance faculty member Angela Sigley Grossman is presenting “It’s Not What It Looks Like,” a modern dance piece exploring the various ways in which a pedestrian object—a sleeping bag—can be used and manipulated in movement. A prop study, “It’s Not What It Looks Like,” features seven dancers who slide, roll, tumble, and whirl out of control as a result of the sleeping bags’ mysterious and mystical properties. Are they manipulating the props, or are the props manipulating them?

Tara Madsen Robbins’ “Trekking” is an athletic contemporary modern piece exploring female empowerment and strength. This high-energy piece, set to the sounds of driving percussion, explores the notions of persevering, surviving, bearing down, pushing forward and tackling obstacles. It's a fierce hypnotic trek through the grind. “Trekking” was originally commissioned by Bucknell University and premiered in November of 2015.

Trinette Singleton, a former principal dancer with The Joffrey Ballet and ballet instructor at DeSales, has choreographed “LET’S ROCK” which she describes as “zestful fun with a hint of nostalgia for the rock ‘n roll era.”

Julia Mayo’s “Predator/Prey” is inspired by humans’ ability to acquire fear through indirect social observations. Featuring an ensemble of eight dancers, the work explores the transition from fearless to fearful and the individual choice we must make to avoid succumbing to our fright.

Jessica Chen, Artistic Director of J CHEN PROJECT, and a guest choreographer for the DeSales Dance Ensemble Concert, has created “Feed—Unplugged,” a new work which explores the phenomenon of social media and this generation's current obsession with selfies, instant followers, Twitter battles and particularly, the number of Likes received on posts. The work aims to open up a dialogue on the shadow of social media and the implications it has on our community at large.

The Dance Ensemble Concert runs March 18 at 11:00 AM and 8:00 PM and March 19 at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM. All performances will take place on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets for the Dance Ensemble concert are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Tickets for groups and dance studio groups are only $5. Tickets are available by calling the Labuda box office at 610.282.3192 or online at

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Tom McNamara, Executive Director of Communications
610.282.1100 x1219

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