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.