Thursday, June 28, 2012


By Nancy Condit


The symphony in rehearsal for the only, as far as Jobe knows, Haydn
Festival in the United States.  Photo provided

The inaugural Oklahoma Haydn Festival will take place Friday night, June 29th, at Mayflower Congregational Church, 3901 N.W. Portland, one block west of Portland west of N.W. 63rd.
The evening includes about a 32 piece orchestra, including the pipe organ.  The program features three major works: Symphony #10, Organ Concerto in C. Major, and Symphony #82 (The Bear).
“The orchestra is comprised of a lot of young players anywhere from their mid-twenties to their mid-thirties.  Many of these performers have had a previous connection to the conductor, Dr. Jim Waddelow, music director for the Raleigh, North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, or to me.  They are emerging professionals, most of whom are either former students or former colleagues of the conductor,” said Richard Jobe, music director and organist at Mayflower Congregational Church, and the festival’s organizer.
There is no admission charge, but they are accepting generous donations, with a minimum suggested donation of $5.


Recent graduate Renee Beneteau performing with Contemporary Dance Oklahoma.
Photo provided

With choreography inspired by the elements of earth air, water and fire, the OU School of Dance presents “The Elements of SummerDance,” the annual summer production of ballet and modern dance. Performances will be at 8 p.m. June 29-30 and at 3 p.m. July 1 in historic Holmberg Hall in the Reynolds Performing Arts Center in the OU Arts District.

Choreography will be by Mary Margaret Holt, director of the OU School of Dance and artistic director of Oklahoma Festival Ballet, Jeremy Lindberg, associate professor of ballet and Austin Hartel, associate professor of modern dance and artistic director of Contemporary Dance Oklahoma, OU’s resident modern dance company.

“Gloriana,” choreographed by Lindberg, will open the program with a fairytale treat of nobles dancing by the river’s edge while a concert is played on royal barges for the monarch. Lindberg said selections from Handel’s Water Music Suite inspired the ballet to be an antique fantasy on the idea of the Royal Jubilee.

A second ballet by Lindberg, “Before Grief Slumbers,” explores the feelings of loss, grief or joy and the perceived moods in nature.

“Le Mistral,” a new ballet choreographed by Holt, was inspired by the winds that sweep down from the Alps and through France each winter. “The winds can be monotonous and frightening in their intensity,” Holt said, “They ultimately cleanse the air and finally bring a soothing calm."

Hartel will present two new modern dance works, one choreographed to the Ted Nugent song “Stranglehold,” and a second comedic dance involving the elements of earth, wind and water.

“The entire production is a wonderful example of the ways dance can express the depth of the human spirit and its relationship to nature, humor and emotions from pathos to joy,” Holt said.

Ticket prices are $8 for students, $12 for OU faculty/staff and senior adults, and $15 for adults. Reservations can be made by calling the Fine Arts College Ticket Service at (405) 325-4101 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. The box office is located in the Catlett Music Center, 500 West Boyd. The Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center is located on the OU Norman campus at 560 Parrington Oval. Seating is limited and reservations are strongly encouraged. For accommodations on the basis of disability, please call (405) 325-4101.

From the press release

Friday, June 8, 2012


Photo by Valerie Sebestyen

By Nancy Condit

Hartel Dance Group gave a wonderful performance last night in its studio on the fifth floor of the Magnolia Building.  “hdg/dancingdowntown” was a full evening of dance in their studio surrounded by windows giving a view of downtown Oklahoma City.  Since it is a barebones intimate space, come prepared for bleachers.

All pieces except one were choreographed by Austin Hartel. Performances continue with 8 P.M. programs Friday and Saturday night – the latter with a meet-the-dancers after party, and a Children’s Show at Saturday morning.  The studio is at 722 N. Broadway and
N.W. 7th Street

“Sunrise On Hatteras,” with music by Led Zeppelin, was the evening’s standout for its musicality and fun.  Mermaids in short tunics frolicked on the stage floor, legs-tails raised in the air.  In the more energetic second half, they rose to a wide legged stance and ritual took over as they jumped together on the stage, echoing the music, or the music echoed them.

“Bicuspid,” choreographed in 1989, remains an outstanding dance, as the two dancers, joined at the root, as a bicuspid is, follow each other’s movements.  At times they try to break away, but come back together to shadow each other.

Throughout the evening, dancers rose on the tops of their feet, then fell back to the stage, gave huge leaps across the stage, and, as in Hatteras, did wonderful pirouettes.

Becca Schmedt’s choreography of “A Different Look,” as people waited for the subway by themselves, and then sought solace among the crowd, showed a good use of sounds and music, and really good moves for the company.

“Network,” choreographed by Hartel and Academy of Contemporary Music student Aaron Robinson, an experimental work in progress, “visually explored the virtual connection to each other and the world around us through the use of technology,” from the program.  At this point, the three dancers’ meetings resembled a hall of mirrors with reflections of previous meetings.

Company dancers include Thrysa De Rosa Hartel, Lynna M. Schneider, Nicolette Battle, Clare Springer, Samantha Kropp, Renee Beneteau, Cameelah Pennington, and Elyse son.     

Tickets purchased in advance are $10.00. Those purchased at the door are $15.00 Advance purchases and additional information about the Hartel Dance Group can be found on-line at

Thursday, June 7, 2012


By Nancy Condit

Race Dance Company presented a varied and interesting performance last Friday night as it sought through “Race Ed – The Education of Race” to give “an understanding that race is only one aspect of who we are as humans. If we can look past it, we can see ourselves as we really are…spirits waiting to be released!” wrote producer director Hui Cha Poos in the program.

 The venue was the upstairs stage at the historic Oklahoma City Farmers’ Market. The performance was followed by a dance with the audience, cast and crew.  If the audience looked a little sparse, it could have been that Perpetual Motion was also performing that night. While Race is a relatively new company – and the only professional jazz company in Oklahoma, it usually plays to full houses at places like Mitchell Hall at UCO.

“After Hours,” choreographed by Missy Dray, with music by Elephant Gun, was one of the standouts of the evening.  The lyrical jazz dance incorporated mostly modern moves, with a few ballet steps by six dancers in yellow-lit knee length white dresses.

Tasha Hinex’ performance and Poos’ choreography of “Bang-Bang,” with music by Bang Bang, was a highlight of continuous slithering sinuous hip hop in skin tight black leather pants and a black bustier.

“Baby Blue,” choreographed by Poos with music by Ruby Blue, was a stylized 70’s jazz number, with dancers clasping hands, posing with knees turned in, and, always, dancing with a backward slant.

Allison High danced what seemed more a struggle than “With Thanks,” choreographed by Jennifer Martinez Stevenson to music by Alibi.  The modern dance was performed on the stage floor, with varied and flowing moves as she sought to be free..

Lighting designers Matt Avra and Art Whaley work was especially good in “After Hours” and “Baby Blue.”

Guest artists Kelly Forbes and Marti Rickman from Clips ‘n Hips performed a fusion of the paso doble and salsa calena – the Columbian salsa.  With the older Spanish music and Forbes’ partnering, Rickman looked exquisitely delicate.

Other guest artists included Erika Reyes dancing an enjoyable flamenco. Teaze Burlesque, performed a 50’s style burlesque with a feather boa and a long red skintight satin dress.  The unidentified dancers of two pieces took it off like a lady, and still had 50’s style undies on, so it was “audience appropriate.”  Tao Ling performed the Chinese Thai Tao Fan dance with one, then two fans putting a softer edge on her almost martial arts moves.

Jr. Race’s “Hip Hop,” choreographed by John Ariete with a mix of music by Nicki Minaj, Britney and LMFAO, had the metallic clad performers in an aggressive hip hop dance that they performed well.

Company dancers were Tasha Hines, Brandi Kelley, Allison High, Amanda Beard, Rachel Parks, Katelyn Wren, and Christine Soileau, with apprentices Jamie Crone, Chanel Roland and Chrintine Riesenweber.  Jr. Race dancers included Mina Chong, Kaitlyn Lutz, Kara Mickle, Makenzie Miller, and Kaitlin Speer.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Photo by Valerie Sebestyen

Hartel Dance Group modern dance company will perform HDG/Dancing Downtown 2012
for its summer season on June 7th, 8th and 9th at 8 P.M., with HDG's first Children's Show at 10 A.M. on Saturday, June 9th at 10 A.M.  The Saturday, 8 P.M. performance will be followed by a post-performance meet-the-dancers party at the Magnolia Studio.  The programs will be held at the Magnolia Studio, 722 N. Broadway and N.W. 7th Street on the 5th floor.

The performance features Network, a  new work by artistic director Austin Hartel in collaboration with local composer and visual artist Aaron Robinson.  This work will explore the social networks we create in this digital age through the process  of a musical Fugue. The Fugue will be represented visually as the dancers perform with projections of themselves that are captured live in the moment.  As this visual Fugue builds upon itself, the musical fugue will also be constructed through the use of live sensors and trigger points.  The looping of the dance and the virtual relationship onstage parallel the always on and connected society we live in.  Are we truly connected to the ethereal images of friends and contacts on our screens?

“I am very excited about this new work and the collaborative process with Aaron.  We are working to create a piece that integrates the use of new media and live performance in an exciting and dynamic way. “ says Hartel in the press release.

Additional works to be presented are Bicuspid,  (1987), choreographed by Hartel, with original score by Nick Holmes. Jennifer Dunning of the New York Times wrote, Bicuspid was “a dose of pure revivifying oxygen.”  Like the teeth that share the same root, the two dancers share the same root of expression, passion and movement quality.  

The Company is excited to present founding member Becca Schmedt’s choreography , A different look.  This  work is about seeing the stories behind the strangers who surround us and learning how those stories bond us together.

La Grange,  a suite to Music by ZZ Top, will be a fun, energetic dance exploring 
the physicality of flying low and gliding high through space. 

To finish the evening, Sunrise on Hatteras, set to music by Led Zeppelin, is a work, which draws it inspiration from the eastern most point of the United States where the sun first touches our shores.  This is a fanciful dance of Mermaids and ritual.  

The children's show will consist of new work being developed to entertain and inform young audiences through dance. In Vastus Sylva, the dancers will depict fanciful creatures and animals.  Action Packed  is a work with dancing boxes.  A new dance will brig to life spaghetti and meat balls .  There will also be opportunities for the young audience to participate in sections of the show.

This season is possible in part thanks to the support of the Kirkpatrick Foundation.Hartel Dance Group is a local dance theatre production company focused on developing dramatic forms of physical expression while expanding the dance audience.

Tickets purchased in advance are $10.00. Those purchased at the door are $15.00
Advance purchases and additional information about the Hartel Dance Group can be found on-line at 

From the press release 

Monday, June 4, 2012


Friday, June 1, 2012

TONIGHT -- Review

Satori begins tonight.  Photo by Peter Dolese

By Nancy Condit

Perpetual Motion’s tenth anniversary spring concert, “Satori: A Moment of Realization,” opens tonight after a highly enjoyable dress rehearsal Thursday night at the Plaza Theater.  Performances will be June 1st and 2nd at

“Kyballion,” choreographed by Rebecca Borden, with music by Murcof, was a thoroughly satisfying modern dance, including elements from Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey with differently paced dancers and groups of dancers sharing the stage – almost a point counterpoint element of contemporary dance that it is joyous to see.

The aerial work “Zazen,” choreographed by Kim Kieffer-Williams, with music by Bonobo, showed that dancers could interact even though they were suspended in four separate silk slings from a square form.  Upside down they held hands, and, at the dance’s end, hung by their hands from the metal apparatus, with their feet sharing each others’ slings, creating a circle of splits as the carousel kept spinning.  Truly dangerous, from this reviewer’s viewpoint, but also inspiring to watch.  What can be done with reasonable safety to create a dance in the air?

Perpetual Motion really pushes the limits with aerial dance.

In “Ink,” choreographed by Stephanie Letendre to music by the Peace Orchestra, four members of the company explored what can be done on two ladders, even crossing from one to another to “display the heedless and deceitful attitude toward others in the pursuit of selfish gain” -- from the program.

“Passing Through,” choreographed by artistic director and dancer Michelle Dexter to music by Radiohead, opened with six dancers with knees under their crouched bodies, backsides facing the audience, rolling at a measured rate into the wings.  The piece was sensual and energetic, with Amy Nevius being particularly fluid.

The first half of the program is about “seeing into one’s own nature.”  The second half concentrates on “And when we find our breath, we open our hearts and let the warm wind sweep through.   It is at this point we begin our journey...”
Tickets are $18 for adults, and $10 for seniors and students.  They are available at until 5 P.M. the day of the performance -- you may need to cut and paste, and at the door before the performance.
Dancers performing were :  Emily Dawson, Maria Krey, Kim Kieffer-Williams, Stephanie Letendre, Amy Nevius, Leah Watson. Yukari Yoshioka, and guest Katie Bowles, with the junior company PM2: Quincy Allen, Lauren Carter, Alexis Elrod, Taylor Norman, and Christy Strauss.