Thursday, October 16, 2014


University Theatre presents Contemporary Dance Oklahoma opening at 8 p.m. Oct. 24 with additional performances at 8 p.m. Oct. 25, 31, Nov. 1 and two matinees at 3 p.m. Oct. 26 and Nov. 2 in the Reynolds Performing Arts Center, Holmberg Hall, in Norman. The program features dance works from renowned American modern dance choreographers José Limón and Alvin Ailey, and OU School of Dance faculty Austin Hartel and Derrick Minter.
Limón’s masterwork Suite from There is a Time is an iconic work from 1956, with inspiration from Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes: “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”  The score for this work, commissioned by the Juilliard Music Foundation for the 1956 Festival of American Music, is Norman Dello Joio’s “Meditations on Ecclesiastes,” which won a 1957 Pulitzer Prize.  Carla Maxwell, this year’s School of Dance Brackett Distinguished Visiting Artist Chair, taught Limón technique and set the choreographer’s piece on the OU dance majors. 
Limón (1908-1972) was a crucial figure in the development of modern dance. His powerful dancing shifted perceptions of the male dancer, while his choreography continues to bring a dramatic vision of dance to audiences around the world. Limón’s choreographic works were quickly recognized, as masterpieces and the Limón Dance Company itself became a landmark of American dance. Many of his dances—There is a Time, Missa Brevis, Psalm, and The Winged—are considered classics of modern dance.
Carla Maxwell trained at New York’s Juilliard School by such luminaries as Martha Hill, José Limón and Antony Tudor. Upon graduating in 1965, Ms. Maxwell joined the Limón ensemble and worked closely with the choreographer, becoming a principal dancer under Limón’s direction.  In 1978, she was appointed Artistic Director. Maxwell received the 1995 Dance Magazine Award and a 1998 New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award for “finding a creative present in the context of a revered past, and thereby offering choreographic opportunity to multiple generations of artists; and for her inspired leadership and artistic accomplishment.”
In a tribute to the life and legacy of Alvin Ailey, Contemporary Dance Oklahoma presents Escapades, originally choreographed by Ailey for the AterballettoCentro Regionale della Danza of Italy in 1983.  This production, restaged by associate artistic director Derrick Minter, a former rehearsal director of Ailey II, tells a love story through a fluid combination of modern, jazz and ballet techniques set to a musical score by jazz legend Max Roach.
In 1958, Ailey founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to carry out his vision of a company dedicated to enriching the American modern dance heritage and preserving the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience. Throughout his lifetime, he was awarded numerous honorary doctoral degrees, NAACP’s Springarn Medal, the United National Peace Medal, the Dance Magazine Award, the Capezio Award, the Samuel Scripps American Dance Festival Award and in 1988, he received the Kennedy Center Honor in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to American culture.
Minter presents his newly created work Stitches, a lively dance that explores the innocence, vulnerability, passion, and energy of our talented dancers with music by Alexandre Desplat and Des’ree.  The choreography is inspired by the sculpture “A Dance of Life,” by Marsha Gertenbach and the strength of many women whose lives inspired him.  Minter will also premiere The Birth of Emotions, A Dialogue of Inner Purpose, a duet that brings passion and athleticism to an open dialogue between the ego and a search for purpose.
Hartel’s dance Ashes Ashes… explores the power of human tenacity in the face of adversity. The work is an abstract exploration of the power of the human spirit to persevere.  Adding seasonal flair, Hartel presents his haunting dance, Curse of the Wilis, in which the beautiful and dangerous spirits of young women who died of broken hearts take revenge by killing men who wander into their graveyard at night.
The University of Oklahoma’s program in dance was founded in 1963 by Yvonne Chouteau and Miguel Terekhov, former principal dancers with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. What had been a department became the School of Dance in 1998 with Mary Margaret Holt as Director. Undergraduate and graduate dance majors, along with general education students, total approximately 1000 enrollees in dance classes per semester. The School of Dance’s state-of-the-art facility in the Donald W. Reynolds Performing Art Center was completed in 2005.
For more information or to schedule an interview call the OU School of Dance at (405) 325-4051.

Advance purchase tickets for Contemporary Dance Oklahoma are $25 for adult, $20 for senior adult, OU employee, military, and $15 for student. Tickets at the door are $35 adult, $20 student.  To purchase tickets online go to THEATRE.OU.EDU, call or visit the OU Fine Arts Box Office at (405) 325-4101, located at 500 W. Boyd St., Catlett Music Center, Norman.  The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution, For accommodations on the basis of disability, please call the OU Fine Arts Box Office at (405) 325-4101. 


From staff reports


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