Skip to main content

DeSales Dance Ensemble Concert

by Roseann Damico Schatkowski Mar 13, 2018
DeSales Dance Program

Featuring a Major Historical Reconstruction and a Slate of World Premieres

The division of performing arts at DeSales University is pleased to announce the capstone event in its 2018 dance season, the Dance Ensemble Concert, opening Friday, March 16 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 nationally renowned guest choreographers as well as the esteemed choreographers on the Dance Department faculty. "The concert will feature six new works, each a stylized and rousing work of its own" says John Bell, head of the division of performing arts. "The dancing onstage inspires dancing among the audience too. Interpretation and intention collide with imagination and beauty, in its purest form, and is celebrated."

"The dance ensemble concert is also special because we invite highly-regarded guest choreographers to set new work on our students" says Bell. "It's a wonderful, win-win. Our students are exposed to new choreographic voices and new ways of moving and our guest choreographers get to try new ideas on a group of curious and eager young dancers."

Continuing its commitment to historically significant masterworks, this year's concert will feature a restaging of legendary choreographers Donald McKayle's Rainbow Etude which is an excerpt from his powerful masterpiece Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder (1959). Rainbow is a narrative about a chain gang surviving their incarceration in the deep American south. The prisoners deal with the frustration of being forced to break rocks day after day while they dream of freedom and equality. Set against the backdrop of the American civil rights movement, this unforgettable work has as much relevance today as when it was first created.

Rainbow Etude is being re-staged by Randall Smith, Assistant Professor of Dance at Muhlenberg College, who personally performed in McKayle's Etude Ensemble for four years. Smith is a répétiteur of McKayle's choreography, authorized to re-stage his work.

Donald McKayle is an American modern dancer, choreographer, teacher, director and writer best known for creating socially conscious concert works during the 1950s and '60s that focus on expressing the human condition and more specifically, the black experience in America. He was among the first black men to break the racial barrier by means of modern dance.

The Dance Ensemble Concert will also feature works choreographed by a number of guest artists. Er-Dong Hu from Bucknell University has set a work as part of a professorial exchange between DeSales and Bucknell. Ms. Trinette Singleton, a member of the DSU dance faculty has served as the rehearsal director for Er-Dong's spellbinding work.

Dance faculty member Angela Sigley Grossman has choreographed a new, emotionally weighty premier, set to an original haunting sound score by Vernon Mobley. The piece is based on experiences recorded from the survivors of Ravensbruck, which from 1939-1945 was a German concentration camp exclusively for women. On the other hand, dance faculty member Julia Mayo has created a fun, light-hearted and boisterous work called a little off. And Tim Cowart, chair of the dance department and artistic director for the concert, offers a work of choreography based on the concept in physics called Quantum Entanglement.

The dance department welcomed Philadelphia-based choreographer Colby Damon to the DeSales campus for a week-long residency with our senior dance majors. "Colby has created a quirky and fun work that pushes the physical endurance of our dancers and will close our concert" says Cowart.

The Dance Ensemble Concert runs March 16 at 11:00 AM and 8:00 PM, March 17 at 8:00 PM, and March 18 at 3:00 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 $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. Tickets are available by calling the Labuda box office at 610.282.3192