Friday, April 26, 2013




By Nancy Condit

Leonard Bernstein's music, choreography paying homage to Jerome Robbins -- done by director Lyn Cramer, professor of musical theater, with the ballets by dance department faculty Steve Brule and Clara Cravey Stanley, music theater students and musicians, under the direction of Paul Christman, from the school of music, combined to deliver a music comedy that celebrates the life of New York as much as it does the life of sailors on 24 hour shore leave.
The choreography was good, the music was excellent, and the book and lyrics a little slow. But the execution, for pre-professionals -- on the stage and in the pit, was very good. 
Seven performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. April 26-27, May 2-4 and two matinees at 3 p.m. on April 28, and May 5 in the Reynolds Performing Art Center, 560 Parrington Oval, Norman.
Bernstein's brash music of youth accompanied the sailors in "New York" as they performed bell ringer leaps and danced while planning their day ashore. The company got the accents of subway riders as their bodies echoed the moves of the train.
Betty Comden and Adolph Green's 1944 book and lyrics broke stereotypes as the women on shore were as anxious to meet a man as the men to see them -- but the right man, as Claire's forgiving fiance Pishkin finally realized about, and she went off with Ozzie.
Tickets prices for On the Town are $30 adult, $25 senior adult, OU faculty and staff, and military, and $15 student. Tickets may be purchased by phone (405) 325-4101, or in person at the OU Fine Arts Box Office, 500 W. Boyd Street, in the Catlett Music Center, Norman.  The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution. For tickets and accommodations on the basis of disability, please call the OU Fine Arts Box Office at (405) 325-4101. 


Thursday, April 25, 2013


Photo provided
Bill T. Jones celebrates his Company’s 30th Anniversary by showcasing works from his groundbreaking origins with Arnie Zane, an 11-year collaboration that would change the face of American Dance. The Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company is recognized as one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the modern dance world. The company’s Oklahoma debut includes D-Man in the Waters, Jones’s most joyous work, and a genuine modern dance classic, set to Mendelssohn’s Octet in E Flat Major Opus 20. Also on the program is Spent Days Out Yonder, a sublime reflection on the second movement of Mozart’s String Quartet No. 23 in F Major. The dancers will perform to live music.

Saturday, April 27, 2013, 8:00 p.m. and
Sunday, April 28, 2013, 3:00 p.m.
At the Helmerich Theatre, Cascia Hall PAC
2600 S. Utica Ave.
The theatre is located on the Cascia Hall campus, just south and west of Utica Square. Go to Utica Ave., between 21st & 31st and turn west through the gate at 2600 S. Utica. The drive will take you directly to the free parking lot.  Here is a link to the map on our website:

Ticket price range:  $15-$50

Ticket prices:
Orchestra Premium $50*
Orchestra $40*
Orchestra Seniors & Children $36.00*
Balcony $30.00*
Balcony Seniors & Children $27.00*
Student Walk-Up Tickets $15.00
Value and Group discounts also available.

Purchase tickets by calling 918-688-6112, 10a-5p, M-F; 10a-2p, Sa; 10a-Noon, Su.
Here is a tiny url link: 
There are excellent seats still available for both performances.

From Choregus


Jillian Gottlieb is the Witch and Keslie Ward is
Little Red Ridinghood in "Into the Woods"
Photo provided

Stephen Sondheim’s Tony-winning musical “Into the Woods” will make its Oklahoma City University debut April 26 through 28.  Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee on the historic Kirkpatrick stage of OCU’s Bass School of Music at N.W. 23rd and Blackwelder. 
Tickets ($12-25) are available from or (405) 208-5227. There will be a free pre-show talk 45 minutes before curtain at each performance.
The irreverent comedy is a Brothers Grimm mash-up featuring an ambivalent Cinderella, a blood-thirsty Little Red Riding Hood, a Prince Charming with a wandering eye, a cursed baker and his wife.
Director Karen Coe Miller calls her production “funny and moving...a modern fairy tale that examines the way we construct the stories of our lives and pass those stories on to our children, often with unforeseen consequences.”
“While many musicals focus on one or two main characters, ‘Into the Woods’ is a true ensemble piece and a great vehicle to display the enormous scope of our student talent on the stage and in the orchestra pit,” said Matthew Mailman, musical director of the 27-piece orchestra and cast of 19. He cited the “genius writing of Stephen Sondheim and the expert orchestrations of our newest alumnus, Dr. Jonathan Tunick.” The Tony-, Grammy-, Emmy- and Oscar-winning orchestrator, Tunick, received an honorary degree Tuesday from Oklahoma City University.
“Into the Woods” premiered on Broadway in 1987 and in London’s West End in 1990, and has since been revived and featured abroad and in national tours. A film adaption is in the works featuring Meryl Streep as the witch. It will be directed by Gary Marshall.
For more information on upcoming OCU performances, visit  or
From the press release

Monday, April 22, 2013


Musical Theatre students Jacob Chancellor,
Cory Linger and Daniel take the lead in
On the Town.
Photo provided

           In what is a huge theatrical feat, the University of Oklahoma Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre and University Theatre will present the Broadway-size musical comedy and dance extravaganza On the Town.  Leonard Bernstein’s musical classic and following  Jerome Robbins' inspired choreography comes to port with rhythm, humor and a wholesome dash of romance. Seven performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. April 26-27, May 2-4 and two matinees at 3 p.m. on April 28, and May 5 in the Reynolds Performing Art Center, 560 Parrington Oval, Norman. Rated G, great for the entire family.
On the Town has a long history, first as a Broadway musical in 1944 with several revivals on Broadway and the West End London.  On the Town was adapted as a musical film in 1949 by MGM and became a movie sensation with legendary actors Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller, Betty Garrett and Jules Munshin. Several classic songs are, “New York, New York,”  “Come Up to My Place” and “Some Other Time.”  In 1950 the film won the Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Cinematography.
“One of the more delightful aspects of the production is paying homage to the great choreographic work of Jerome Robbins,” states Lyn Cramer, director.  “Like his colleagues, Betty Comden and Adolph Green (songs and lyrics) and Leonard Bernstein (score), this enormous show was a first for Mr. Robbins and company in the world of musical theatre.  The story is based on the success of Robbins’ ballet, Fancy Free, a story told completely through dance of three sailors on 24-hour shore leave in the dynamic city of New York with all the fun and romance they can find.  The biggest challenge for any choreographer is to pay homage to Jerome Robbins' work without copying it.   The University of Oklahoma has the ability to do just that with great aplomb.  The dancers are sensational and the choreography not only tells a great story but the excitement of watching these ballets is remarkable.  Audiences will be spellbound at every turn.”
Cramer adds, “The Bernstein score is one of ultimate challenge for any musician, whether singer or instrumentalist.  It is a daunting task and when done well; it is a delight for both the performer and most especially, for the audience.  The dynamic force of the score will have the audience on the edge of their seats.”
Lyn Cramer serves as choreographer and director of the production. Cramer is a veteran teacher and choreographer. She is a Weitzenhoffer Endowed Professor in Musical Theatre Dance at the University of Oklahoma and was named the 2005 Irene and Julian J. Rothbaum Presidential Professor of Excellence in the Arts by the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts.  On July 4th of this year, Lyn’s first book, Creating Musical Theatre: Conversations with Broadway Directors and Choreographers will be released. 
OU School of Dance faculty Steve Brule and Clara Cravey Stanley have joined the production to choreograph the musical’s ballet pieces. A cast of 47 students from the Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre and School of Dance will deliver this uplifting, fun show full of energy and verve. The production staff includes Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre and School of Drama students, faculty, and the staff of OU University Theatre. 
Get social with University Theatre by becoming a fan on of Fine Arts District.  Follow the musical engagement of On The Town on or with hashtag #OUMT.
Tickets prices for On the Town are $30 adult, $25 senior adult, OU faculty and staff, and military, and $15 student. Tickets may be purchased by phone (405) 325-4101, or in person at the OU Fine Arts Box Office, 500 W. Boyd Street, in the Catlett Music Center, Norman.  The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution. For tickets and accommodations on the basis of disability, please call the OU Fine Arts Box Office at (405) 325-4101.
From the press release 

Sunday, April 21, 2013


By Nancy Condit

Oklahoma City Ballet took on the grand undertaking of presenting the evening long Romantic ballet Swan Lake Friday night and Saturday night at the Civic Center, and did a very credible performance. The company dancers, led by Miki Kawamura as Odette/Odile and Yui Sato as Prince Siegfried, continue to dance well. The staging, after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, was by artistic director Robert Mills and ballet master Jacob Sparso in the palace scenes, full of entertaining national dances as well the story of the ballet, with the "white acts" with the swans staged by guest repetiteur Lisa Moon, following Lev Ivanov.   Kudos to Mills for choosing Moon, who has a background in classical ballet performance, choreography, and currently choreographs for Idaho Regional Ballet.

Friday evening there were glimpses of emotion in the second act dance between the Prince, Yui Sato, and the Swan Queen Odette, Miki Kawamura. Saturday evening's guests Nao Kusuzaki as Odette/Odile and Christopher Coomer as Prince Siegfried, courtesy of the Houston Ballet, performed their partnerships with additional lightness and delicacy.

The company dancers, who performed well Friday night, were much improved Saturday in Act I, with the men uniformly performing as well as the women. Among the standouts were Ellany Abbott on both evenings, and Jerry Pines on Friday and Alvin Tovstogray on Saturday. The Pas de Trois was light and elegant as danced on Friday by DaYoung Jung, Callye McCollum and Alvin Tovstogray, and on Saturday by DaYoung Jung, Miki Kawamura and Yui Sato. The company as a whole was much stronger Saturday night in Act I as they celebrated the Prince's coming of age, whether this was because of some small cast changes, opening night jitters, or both. In Act IV, where there were no cast changes except for the principles, the swans were much more uniform and comfortable in their roles.

The music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was well played by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, led by Joel Levine. While the music by itself sounds pompous in places to this reviewer, it fit the ballet well, as Tchaikovsky intended that it should.

Kudos to Mills for choosing Moon as guest repetiteur, in those particularly moving scenes. The choreography as Odile, the Black Swan as she deceives the Prince during the palace ball is very good, as is the choreography of Rothbart, performed by David Barocio.

Miki Kawamura's portrayal of Odette/Odile (Rothbart's daughter) was very nice in Act II, as she first
portrayed Odette running and flying in circles around Siegfried, then, in love with him, resting against Siegfried, and, as Odile, blowing hot and cold on the Prince to deceive him into believing that she was his true love. Kawamura performed the famous fouettes en tournant, 24 of them, standing on one leg and whipping the other leg around so that she could turn on point, to further entice and dominate him.  In Act II's love scene, Kawamura danced extremely well, although her left arm was appeared stiff in close partnership with Sato.

Yui Sato's lifts were strong and sturdy, making him a very good partner as well as a good soloist. He knew how to make the most of his long lines as a supplicant lover, balanced on one bended leg, the other extended  straight behind him.

The main differences between Kawamura and Sato, and Saturday's guest artists Nao Kusuzaki and Christopher Coomer may be differences of experience.

Kusuzaki and Coomer danced the third act pas de deux with open rounded arms, hands barely meeting, like a Dresden figurine. Coomer hardly seemed to touch Kusuzaki when he lifted her.

As Mills pointed out in an email, "The choreography was different from one night to the next, yes.  The Ivanov choreography is 118 years old.  Many 'liberties' are taken with the choreography in that many different standard 'versions' exist.  The version chosen by the couple depends on their unique talents and abilities they posess and what suits their bodies."

While Kusuzaki as Odile snapped off 35 fouettes en tournant, Kawamura had a sly, cat-like look of pure enjoyment playing with the Prince as she maliciously entranced him away from his true love.

David Barocio's handling of Rothbart's long wings of an owl was very good. His overall performance was most enjoyable when he danced, fighting with the Prince for Odette.

Io Morita was excellent as the Jester, using teriffic energy in easy, leaps, and giving the impression of turning himself into a ball as he danced through the Prince's coming of age party and palace ball, always in control. Jerry Pines' leaps and presence were notable, as was Alvin Tostogray. Ellany Abbott was a good addition to the Waltz Soloists.  DaYoung Jung, Callye McCollum and Alvin Tovstogray performed a pleasant and delicate Pas de Trois.

At the end of the ballet by the lake, the final impossibility of the Prince's and Odette's love becomes
apparent as the Prince battles the evil sorcerer Rothbart and loses. Friday night, during this scene,  the tragedy of the ballet came through until the lovers drowned themselves. Whether the music did not allow for the playing out of the tragedy by Rothbart's being overcome by the swans, and the lovers going off to an afterlife - the ballet ended too quickly and the emotional moment was lost. However, this appears to have been a matter of timing, since Saturday evening's performance had time for the despair and hope offered at the performance's end.

The full traditional sets and costumes were courtesy of the Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene, Oregan. Scenic design was by Peter Dean Beck, costume design by Lynn Bowers, additional costume design by Amy Panganiban and Michael Jones, with lighting design by Richard Weil.

At the beginning of the evening the new executive director, Shane Jewell, was introduced to the audience.
At the evening's end, Mills announced that Miki Kawamura and Yui Sato were being promoted to principal dancers.

Swan Lake continues Sunday at 2 pm in the Civic Center.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Family fun packs for four people in the mezzanine are available for $50 for Oklahoma City Ballet's "Swan Lake."
Tickets can be purchased online at, by phone at 405.848.TOES (8637) or the Civic Center Box Office at 405-297-2264.
Performances are this Friday night at 8 pm, Saturday night at 8 pm, and Sunday afternoon at 2 pm at the Civic Center Music Hall.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


 The 15th annual Documentary Film Series at Oklahoma City University will conclude at 2 p.m. April 28 with Robert H. Lieberman’s “They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain.”
The screening is free to the public and will be held in the Moot Court Room in Sarkeys Law Center at N.W. 23rd Street and Kentucky Avenue. It is sponsored by the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Endowment Fund.
Shot clandestinely over a three-year period in the second-most isolated country in the world — Burma — “They Call It Myanmar” lifts the curtain to expose the everyday life in a land that has been held in the iron grip of a brutal military regime for 48 years. Culled from more than 200 hours of striking images, the film interweaves footage of this little-seen nation with interactions with its people, including an interview with the recently released Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
Though Burma has tumbled from being one of the most prosperous and advanced countries in Southeast Asia to being one of the world’s poorest, the film shows a country and people of beauty, courage and hope.
The late Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film “A thing of beauty: its cinematography, music and contemplative words make it not an angry documentary but more a hymn to a land that has grown out of the oldest cultures in Asia.”
The documentary series title, “3 Measures of Time,” comes from the title of a poem by National Book Award winning poet Terrance Hayes, who gave a reading at OCU April 3.
For more information about the series, visit the website; contact Harbour Winn, director of OCU’s Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature, at (405) 208-5472 or e-mail him at
From the press release

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Photo provided

On April 22-23,  Brightmusic Chamber Ensemble will present two performances of the fifth concert of its Tenth Anniversary Season, “Bright Tales.”  The program features virtuoso works by the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály, the German composer Carl Maria von Weber, and the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
These concerts will be performed on Monday evening, April 22, at 7:30 pm at All Souls' Episcopal Church, 6400 N. Pennsylvania Avenue at 63rd Street in northwest OKC and on Tuesday evening, April 23, at 7:30 pm at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, 127 N.W. Street at N. Robinson downtown. 

The works on the program are: (1) Zoltán Kodály’s Duo for Violin and Cello, op. 8; (2) Carl Maria von Weber’s Clarinet Quintet in B-flat Major, op. 34 for two violins, viola, cello and clarinet; and (3) Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s String Sextet in D Minor, “Souvenir de Florence,” op. 70 for two violins, two violas and two cellos.

Zoltán Kodály, Duo for Violin and Cello, op. 7:   had a compositional style that was what David Dubal called that of “a rhapsodic bard.” He composed his Duo for Violin and Cello in 1914 at the beginning of World War I, but it was not publicly performed until 1924.  This three-movement duo, in the traditional fast-slow-fast pattern, has become one of the most important works in the repertoire for violin and cello.

Carl Maria von Weber, Clarinet Quintet in B-flat Major, op. 34 (for clarinet, two violins, viola and cello):  “A good case can be made” that Weber (1786-1826) “was the first of the true Romantics....  To the Romantics, Weber was the one who unleashed the storm” [Harold Schonberg].  Weber was one of the greatest pianists and conductors of his era.  He virtually invented the role of a conductor as the overall director of an opera.  His compositions included virtuosic piano music, chamber music and songs, all of which were enormously popular in the 19th Century.  Weber had a huge impact on Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Liszt and Wagner.  He was a man of many talents as a writer, painter, lithographer and guitarist.  He died at age 39 of tuberculosis, while in London to conduct the premiere of an opera he had written for an English libretto.  Weber was an “aristocratic, intelligent, forceful man: an authentic genius whose greatest tragedy was that he was born about thirty years ahead of his time” [Schonberg].  He wrote his clarinet quintet in 1815, inspired by the virtuosity of clarinetist Heinrich Baermann.  (Brightmusic performed Baermann’s own clarinet quintet at its “Musical Legacies” concert in January 2010.)  Weber’s quintet has been described by critics as “superb,” “sparkling,” “charismatic” and “technically demanding.”

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, String Sextet in D Minor, “Souvenir de Florence,” op. 70 (for two violins, two violas and two cellos):  Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) is probably the most popular, if not the greatest, Russian composer. On commission from the St. Petersburg Chamber Music Society, he wrote “Souvenir de Florence,” a city he had visited happily many times.  Having missed his deadline for the 1889-l890 season, the work was not premiered until November 1892.

Seven Brightmusic musicians will appear at this concert: Gregory Lee and Hal Grossman (violin), Royce McLarry and Mark Neumann (viola), Jonathan Ruck and Tomasz Zieba (cello), and Chad Burrow (clarinet).

Admission is $10 per adult; students and Season Members are free of charge.   

-- ripped from my Facebook page

Back to highlighting RACE Leadership. Everyone, take a minute to read a little tidbit about John, the director of Men of Race!

Family: Malaya(Daughter) Lexi, Kylie, Elayna (Nieces)
Ariel (Dad),Carol (Mom), John Carl (Eldest), John Maio (Youngest Bro), Marielle (Sister).

... Your job outside of Race Dance Company: FedEx Courier

How did you get involved with Race Dance Company? While working at FedEx, I met a lady that introduced me to Amy Reed who then introduced me to my adopted sis Hui Cha Poos (Race artistic director).

What is your role as Race Leadership? Leadership/ Men Of Race Director

Describe your favorite moment on the job (talking about Race): Watching the development of Hip Hop Nutcracker from it seeming like an idea for a few years to actually making it happen to what seemed like last minute. For it to be such a success is pretty incredible!
See More

Sunday, April 14, 2013


The slideshow and short video were sent out by Oklahoma City Ballet for their upcoming performances of "Swan Lake" Friday, April 19 through Sunday, April 21 at the Civic Center. Tickets range from $33 to $55, and can be purchased online at, by phone at 405.848.TOES (8637) or the Civic Center box office at 405.297.2264.

Click to watch a review of positions and pantomime.

Swan Lake: A beginner's guide - Ballet Mime (The Royal Ballet)

This video on Ballet Mime is from London's Royal Ballet. Just click the arrow. Part of it has subtitles.

Swan Lake: A beginner's guide - The Music (The Royal Ballet)

"Swan Lake" : A beginners guide on the music, also from the London Royal Ballet.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


By Nancy Condit

The University of Oklahoma's Contemporary Dance Oklahoma presented a memorable evening of modern dance and modern ballet Friday night. Choreographers artist in residence Donald McKayle, and faculty members Austin Hartel, and Derrick Minter presented exciting works with well trained students.
Performances continue at 8 p.m. April 13 and at 3 p.m. on April 14, in the Rupel J. Jones Theatre, 563 Elm Street, Norman.  

"Suite Ellington," choreographed by Derrick Minter, was an elegant, beautiful barefoot ballet, set to Duke Ellington's music, that combined multiple forms of dance -- classical ballet, a move or two of street dance, and modern dance. Minter has taken a new look at partnering, allowing a woman to support her strong male partner, and, in the second section when two men fail to hook up with the ladies, the guys spend a buddies night out, partnering each other with moves that once might have been regarded as reserved for women, but now seem appropriate for men too. One of the most beautiful moves in the third section, with the entire company, were both the men and the women's spins with arms curved down to the fingertips. That created the illusion of spinning tops. The yellow and cream women's costumes enhanced a classic Greek effect set by "pillars" of hanging gathered fabric. Costume design was by Jenava Burguiere. Lighting was done by F. Leahe Knott.

Austin Hartel has a wonderful sense of Aaron Robinson's original music in "Syncopated." The dancers moved with and against the music's beat. While Hartel is quoted in the press release as saying, "This work explores, in a non-narrative sense, the ritualistic nature of our lives, communities and relationships through powerful, dynamic movement.  Sometimes repetitive, and at times relying heavily on others we go through our lives in a search of a greater understanding," it also includes modern and ethnic moves, at times breaking out of the repetitive.

"Working Flesh," was a collaboration between choreographer Hartel, performer Dr. Stefan Ice from the School of Music faculty, who was unable to perform Friday night, and University theatre designer Rick Reeves, who designed a video environment to compliment the dance. Ice was unable to perform, but "EDGE(Corrugated Box)," for multi-percussion and tap, written by Bruce Hamilton, was effectively modern and edgy. Reeves' set added a welcome dimension at it echoed and televised different aspects of the dance.

Hartel's choreography was a wonderful combination of dancers moving as partners in organic forms on the stage, and a couple on a raised box. Hartel used bodies to form shapes and forms like one supporting two others while they stretch or reach out. The couple who had been on the box, once on the stage, the woman who had sat on his back rolled over his head and slowly descended to stand on the stage -- a lovely example of control and strength.

Guest artist in residence choreographer Donald McKayle's "Songs of the Disinherited (Excerpts)," premiered in 1972, and staged by Stephanie Powell, was a hopeful piece especially notable for "Angelitos Negros." The piece was performed in Spanish by a single woman in a white flamenco dress, using modern and Spanish dance moves to music by Manuel Alvarez Maciste, with piano and vocals by Roberta Flack.

The song is:
Painter born in my native land and with the foreign brush
Painter that continues the course of all the painters of old
Though the Virgin may be white, paint black angels for me.
Why do you deprecate those of your color,
If you know that in heaven God also loves them?
Painter of saints in alcoves, if you have a soul in your body
Why have you forgotten blacks in your paintings?
Every time you paint a church you paint beautiful angels
But never do you remember to paint a black angel.

The reason for its hopefulness? It ends with the dance "Shaker Life," with music for it by Rickie Havens Stormy and vocals by The Voices of East Harlem, turned into an urban hymn. And because dances that are part of the history of dance and the history of culture are being restaged and, therefore, preserved.

"Kayle's sensibilities were formed by the theatrical dance of the 1950s. A humanistic choreographer, he uses narratives and deals with potent emotion conveyed through dramatic characters. At times his stories are specific to the African-American experience, ... but his choreography is universal in its implications," from Great Performances website.

Tickets prices for Contemporary Dance Oklahoma are $22 for adults and $18 for senior adults, OU faculty, and staff and military, and $14 for students. For tickets and accommodations on the basis of disability, please call the OU Fine Arts Box Office at (405) 325-4101.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


By Nancy Condit

Classen SAS dancers demonstrate their
modern dance moves and masks made with
G. Patrick Riley, artist-in-residence

Last Saturday's annual Extravaganza! Classen School of Advanced Studies showed the dancers' good sense of space, use of the stage to middle space to standing, and modern and ballet technique -- all done barefoot.

The most complicated dance was the angular piece Unfolded, choreographed and performed by the students. Multiple groups of dancers wore masks they had made with the tutelage of artist in residence G. Patrick Riley, Oklahoma State Artist in Residence, with the assistance in mask design and construction of Duncan Payne and, in the third scene, of Austin Pendley-Griffin. From bright green, turquoise, blue to gold the masks added to the dancers' personas, and added to the life of Prairie Dance Theatre, Oklahoma's first modern dance company, and the masks Riley made for many of their dances.

Classen SAS is one of the best high schools offering dance in Oklahoma, which gives professional companies dancers who are technically solid and choreographically imaginative to build on, while integrating other arts. The dance program is under the direction of Nancy Trait-Lira, who also danced with, among others Prairie Dance Theatre.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Omar Humphrey is one of the dancers
performing this weekend in
OU's Contemporary Dance Oklahoma
Photo provided

The University of Oklahoma University Theatre and School of Dance present Contemporary Dance Oklahoma. Remaining performances are scheduled at 8 p.m. April 11-13 and at 3 p.m. on April 14, in the Rupel J. Jones Theatre, 563 Elm Street, Norman.
Contemporary Dance Oklahoma features exciting, athletic, original choreography by School of Dance faculty Austin Hartel and Derrick Minter, and guest choreographer Donald McKayle, School of Dance Brackett Distinguished Visiting Artist.  McKayle is accompanied by Stephanie Powell, who will assist in staging three movements from his work Songs of the Disinherited, a venerated classic of modern dance. Contemporary Dance Oklahoma brings the power and energy of modern dance with classic elements for an entertaining performance.
Donald McKayle was born in 1930 and grew up in Harlem. He began dancing during his senior year of high school and won a scholarship to the New Dance Group, where he studied with Sophie Maslow, Jean Erdman and Pearl Primus. In 1948, at eighteen, he made his professional debut.  McKayle received a scholarship to train at the Martha Graham School, and then joined the Martha Graham Dance Company from 1955 to 1956. He also danced as a guest artist with various ensembles such as those led by Merce Cunningham, Anna Sokolow, Jean Erdman, Mary Anthony and Charles Wiedman.
McKayle danced on Broadway in Bless You All, House of Flowers, and West Side Story and directed and choreographed musical theater off Broadway. He choreographed Broadway shows such as Golden Boy (1964 premiere) for which McKayle earned a Tony nomination for choreography. In 1974 he won an Emmy award for Free to Be You and Me. He directed and choreographed a musical version of the hit play Raisin in the Sun, starring Debbie Allen, which won the Tony Award for best musical in 1974.  McKayle’s television credits include The Ed Sullivan Show (1966-1967), The Bill Cosby Special (1968), the 1970 Oscar Presentations, and Free to be With You and Me (1974) to name a few. He also created stage acts for Harry Belafonte and Tina Turner.  In addition, he co-authored The Modern Dance: Seven Statements of Belief (1966).
Contemporary Dance Oklahoma Artistic Director Austin Hartel presents three dance works Syncopated Habitual Rituals, Tethered and The Working Flesh. His first piece Syncopated Habitual Rituals is a work created to an original composition by composer Aaron Robinson. "This work explores, in a non-narrative sense, the ritualistic nature of our lives, communities and relationships through powerful, dynamic movement.  Sometimes repetitive, and at times relying heavily on others we go through our lives in a search of a greater understanding."
                  Tethered is a work that explores, through dance, the music of 1973: “Jessica” by The Allman Brothers Band, “Rock On” by David Essex and “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent. All three musical selections are from the same year and, while similar in genre, they are different reflections of the times. The dance seeks to capture the essence of each song in relation to its place in our cultural history.
                  The Working Flesh is collaboration with Dr. Stefan Ice, of the School of Music faculty, and University Theatre designer Rick Reeves. Reeves will be creating an innovative video environment to enhance and compliment the live percussion and choreography to the music. “EDGE (Corrugated Box)”, for multi-percussion, written by Bruce Hamilton, will be played by Dr. Stefan Ice. This work is an exploration of the human machine and machine-like qualities of our bodies that we instill in the actual machines and factories of our society.
Contemporary Dance Oklahoma Associate Artistic Director Derrick Minter presents an original dance work in three sections. Suite Ellington is a jazzy and sizzling new ballet set to a score by Duke Ellington. This dance brings audiences, new and old, into an atmosphere that is sensuous and sophisticated with humor, romance, and elegance as its hallmarks. The sections are titled: " The All Night Affair, " " Just The Two Of Us " and " Bring The Flavor."
In collaboration with the OU School of Music jazz program directed by Jay Wilkinson, Minter has created a second work Elegance in Three with music by Ellington. The ballet evokes the era of Josephine Baker and receives its premiere in this production. Danced by three women, the choreographic sculpture of old and new, past and present reveal the emotional depth of Ellington's score. Minter and Wilkinson come together in this new collaboration, live, for the final four performances, April 11-14.
Tickets prices for Contemporary Dance Oklahoma are $22 for adults and $18 for senior adults, OU faculty, and staff and military, and $14 for students. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution. For tickets and accommodations on the basis of disability, please call the OU Fine Arts Box Office at (405) 325-4101.

From the press release 


Oklahoma City Ballet dancers Miki Sato and Yui Sato perform part of
Swan Lake in the Devon complex during Art Moves. They will perform the lead roles Friday night,
April 19th.
Photo by Nancy Condit
By Nancy Condit

 For the first time in its 41-year history, the Oklahoma City Ballet will present a full-length production of Swan Lake, widely considered among the most technically and emotionally challenging classical ballets of all time.
The three performances are at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 19; 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 20; and 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 21 at the Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave. in Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma City Philharmonic will perform Tchaikovsky’s famous score live, conducted by Maestro Joel Levine.
“This is a milestone moment for the performing arts in Oklahoma City,” Levine said.  “Swan Lake isn’t just a ballet, it is the ballet.  The production is a ‘must see’ for OKC; it is a big step forward, and it’s very exciting.” 
“The story of Swan Lake is all about transformation,” Artistic Director Robert Mills said.  “The Oklahoma City Ballet has transformed over the past five years into a company capable of honoring the high art and transcendent power of this important ballet.  Everyone who loves the performing arts should see Swan Lake at least once in their lifetime.  The time is now for ballet in Oklahoma City.”
The ballet will be performed in three acts rather than the more traditional four-act version, an adaptation Artistic Director Robert Mills said is a trend among ballet companies. "It makes the ballet more accessible to modern audiences." Most of the iconic moments and dances in the ballet will remain.

Story synopsis: While hunting, Prince Siegfried sees an amazing swan. As he takes aim to shoot, the swan turns into a beautiful woman. The woman, Odette, tells the prince that she is a princess who has come under the spell of an evil sorcerer.  During the day she must be a swan and swim in a lake of tears.  At night she is allowed to be a human again.  The spell can only be broken if a virgin prince swears eternal fidelity to her.  She tells Prince Siegfried that if he refuses her she must remain a swan forever.

Prince Siegfried falls madly in love with Odette.  However, through a spell by the evil sorcerer, he accidentally proposes to another woman at a party, believing that the woman is really Odette.  Princess Odette feels doomed. She threatens to kill herself and throws herself into the lake.  The Prince feels terribly sorry and throws himself into the lake with her.  In an incredibly touching moment, the two are transformed into lovers in the afterlife.
Preparations for the historic production began more than a year ago and evolved into a regional effort.

Oklahoma City Ballet dancers Miki Kawamura and Yui Sato will dance the lead roles of Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried at the Friday evening opening night performance, and soloists from the Houston Ballet, Nao Kusuzaki and Christopher Coomer, will perform the lead roles in the Saturday evening and Sunday matinee performances. 

"Although I have dancers that are technically and artistically strong enough to perform the roles of Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried, I wanted to bring in guest artists to perform those roles simply because Swan Lake is a big production that requires many dancers.  I am happy to have two of our company dancers, Miki Kawamura and Yui Sato, dance these roles on April 19th. On the 20th and 21st they will be featured in principal roles as dancers in the first act pas de trios," Robert Mills, artistic Mills wrote in an email.
The Oklahoma City Ballet company includes 26 dancers representing six countries and 10 states in the U.S., including three dancers from Oklahoma. 

The ballet will feature beautiful sets and costumes including Prince Siegfried’s palace interior and the moonlit lakeside.  The palace scenes will be staged by Artistic Director Robert Mills and Ballet Master Jacob Sparso, inspired by the original choreography of Marius Petipa. 
The “white acts” will be staged by guest repetiteur Lisa Moon, using the original choreography of Lev Ivanov. 

Biographies of the guest artists appear after the ticket information.
Talks and family activities begin on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. The lecture on the historical significance of Swan Lake is in the south lobby.

Activities on Sunday include a 1 p.m. telling of the fable of Swan Lake while learning the art of pantomime -- storytelling through movement. Post-performance Sunday is a ‘Meet and Greet’ with the dancers directly following the Sunday matinee performance.  Refreshments will be provided by Braum’s.
Individual ticket prices range from $33 to $55 depending on section.  Tickets can be purchased online at, by phone at 405.848.TOES (8637) or the Civic Center Box Office at 405-297-2264.
Lisa Moon, guest repetiteur will stage the white acts of Swan Lake.
Moon was born in Birmingham, Alabama, where she received her first training from Stevan and Melanie Grebel. Lisa was a Harkness trainee with David Howard before joining Stars of American Ballet and the Bavarian National Ballet in Munich.

During her career as a dancer in Europe and the United States, she worked with renowned artists such as Frederic Franklin, William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Lynn Seymour, John Neumeier, and Edward Caton. 

Lisa then went on to train and coach the dancers of Eugene Ballet/Ballet Idaho as the company’s Ballet Mistress. Lisa has devoted the past thirteen years of her teaching career to students and professionals in the Northwest.

Guest artists Nao Kusuzaki and Christopher from the Houston Ballet
will dance the leads Saturday and Sunday in OKC Ballet's Swan Lake.
Photo taken by Amit Ava Sarkar and Pam Francis
Nao Kusuzaki, guest artist, was born in Ehime, Japan, and grew up in Japan, Washington D.C., and Boston. In Japan, Ms. Kusuzaki trained at the Yatsuzuka Ballet. In the United States she trained with Mary Day and Patricia Berrend at the Washington School of Ballet and with Tatiana Legat, Laura Young, and Sydney Leonard at the Boston Ballet School.
Ms. Kusuzaki has danced professionally with Boston Ballet for five seasons. She has been featured in Boston Ballet's Swan Lake as a lead swan and in the pas de cinq (solo girl); in Lady of the Camellias as Dream Marguerite; in The Nutcracker in the Arabian pas de deux and Marzipan pas de trois; in Don Quixote as a lead gypsy; in Maina Gielgud's Giselle as a lead Wili; and in Rudi Van Dantzig's Ginastera. Ms. Kusuzaki was also featured as a guest artist in Ballet North's production of The Sleeping Beauty as Aurora.

With the Houston Ballet, she has danced a featured role in Stanton Welch's TuTu, Falling, and Brigade; premiered in Nosotros and Punctillius which Welch created a pas de deux. Ms. Kusuzaki has danced the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, and Arabian in The Nutcracker, Suzuki in Madame Butterfly, Russian Princess and solo swan in Swan Lake, Prayer in Coppelia and the 1st sylph in La Sylphide. Her repertoire also includes: Petite Mort, In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, Five Tangos, Voluntaries, Serenade, Velocity, Divergence, and Four Seasons.

Christopher Coomer, guest artist was born in Birkenhead, England where he trained at the Wallasey School of Ballet before coming to the United States to train at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy

In 2004 he joined the corps de ballet of Houston Ballet at the invitation of Artistic Director Stanton Welch and was promoted to soloist in 2007.  His favorite role is Couple I in Brian Enos' Spare Parts. He describes his first job with Houston Ballet as the most defining moment of his career.  Christopher has danced many soloist and principal roles with the company.

Substantial information came from the press release