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 

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