Friday, March 9, 2012


Chirstopher Frazier to dance at Contemporary Dance.
Photo provided

The University of Oklahoma’s University Theatre presents Contemporary Dance Oklahoma in collaboration with School of Dance.  Performances are offered for one weekend only at March 7-10 and two matinees at March 10 and 11, in the Rupel J. Jones Theatre,
563 Elm Ave in the Fine Arts Center. 

Five works from School of Dance faculty members Austin Hartel and Derrick Minter will come together to create a diverse and dynamic evening. Included in the performances are Hartel’s On the Rim, Bicuspid and the premiere o f Sorcerer’s Apprentice, as well as Minter’s Forever in a Day and his 9/11 tribute, Indelible Grace.   Hartel was co-choreographer and a soloist for five years with Pilobolus Dance Theater, and Minter danced with groups including Ailey II and the Martha Graham Ensemble.     

Given its world premiere in 2005 at OU, Austin Hartel’s On the Rim carries the viewer into an awe-inspiring day at the Grand Canyon. Hartel choreographed Ferde GrofĂ©’s Grand Canyon Suite, closely following the score to portray events in the canyon from sun up to sun down. The piece begins with a vibrant sunrise and continues through a warm afternoon, a violent storm, eventually ending with a starry night. All the while, dancers’ movements mimic the canyon visitors' days, including explorers, donkeys and crawling critters.

To help bring the canyon to life, a large inflatable plastic drop will stretch the width of the stage. “The way the light plays off the plastic is really beautiful,” Hartel said. “The effect helps set the mood and portray the passing of a day in the canyon.”

Derrick Minter’s new ballet Indelible Grace is a moving tribute to 9/11 and how events that day changed America. During the work, dancers will take the audience through emotionally diverse moments of the loss of friends and family. Minter’s work aims to remember those involved in the tragedy, to reflect on actions that happened during the day, and to rebuild the lives of those affected. Scenic elements include a flight of stairs and an escalator, as well as an image of the New York City skyline.

“The thought of creating a 9/11 tribute has been with me for a while, since I was there when everything took place,” Minter said. “I know that many audience members will connect to this work, since every American was affected by the attacks.”

In addition to On the Rim, Hartel also restaged the duet Bicuspid, which was first performed by Dendy Dance in New York City in 1990. The inspiration behind the work was the idea that the bicuspids are two teeth that share the same root, just as the dancers on stage are two people who share the same passion for
life. Bicuspid is set to an original composition by Nick Holmes and is danced either by a male-and-female
pair or a female-and-female pair. “During the time it was created, we were very big on trying to break the
gender barrier,” commented Hartel. “We wanted to show that women could be just as strong as men and men could be just as effeminate as females.”

Minter’s second work is the new, upbeat  Forever in a Day. Set to selections by musician Bobby McFerrin, this piece follows five people who have gathered at a park to observe, reflect and interact with those around them. The theme suggests playful and affectionate teasing and sensuality between the characters. 

Hartel’s new work The Sorcerer’s Apprentice closes the evening.  This fantastical dance was created to build a link between the Contemporary Dance Oklahoma concert and the opening of Fred Jones’ Museum of Art exhibit "A Century of Magic: The Animation of the Walt Disney Studios." For Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the stage will be lit entirely by black light. Performers in illuminated unitards will appear to be floating through space, bringing a magical quality to the stage.

The production staff includes: Austin Hartel, artistic director, Derrick Minter, associate artistic director, Ethan Hartman, scenic designer, Keith Ferguson, costume designer, Taylor Beth Ellis, lighting designer, Christopher Sadler and Dexter Settles, stage managers, Scott Henkels, technical director, Kasey Allee-Foreman, production manager, Rich Taylor, University Theatre executive producer.

For tickets contact the OU Fine Arts box office by phone 405-325-4101 or visit during business hours from Monday through Friday at until Tickets are $22 and can be purchased at the door by cash or check.  The Fine Arts box office is located on the OU campus in the Catlett Music Center on the corner of Elm Avenue and Boyd Street in Norman, Oklahoma.

Renee Beneteau will also at Contemporary Dance
Photo provided

From the press release

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