The inspirations for the six original pieces to be performed at Dance Concert '97 at Cornell University are as varied as the performers themselves -- who include a veterinary student and recent high school graduate.
Cornell's Department of Theatre, Film and Dance will present its annual dance concert this weekend in the Proscenium Theatre of the Center for Theatre Arts, with performances at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, March 6-8; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 9. Tickets are $6 for students and seniors and $8 for the general public and are available at the Center for Theatre Arts Box Office; office hours are Monday through Friday, 12:30-5:30 p.m., and one hour before performances. For more information, call (607) 254-ARTS.
"Dance Concert '97 is a way for faculty and students to give expression to our creative desires, and that expression can take very different forms" said Jumay Chu, lecturer in dance and this year's concert coordinator. "I believe diversity is a great strength of the Cornell Dance Program -- and of the annual dance concert. Though our interests and backgrounds are quite different, we believe in each other's work -- and that commitment comes through in our performances."
The first, "Nude Tumbling Down Staircase," employs sophisticated technology to provide a provocative perspective on human movement. Sensors attached to dancers translate their motions into computerized sound; three-dimensional imagery and animation projected on-screen also complement the dancers' movements. The work was choreographed by Byron Suber, with assistance from Warren D. Cross, technical projects manager for the Department of Theatre, Film and Dance, who developed the computer technology, and Gail Scott White, assistant professor of art, who created the 3D imaging and animation and also dances in the piece.
The second piece, also choreographed by Suber, is "Untitled, Uncentered, Untended, Untendered (a ballet)" and is set to "Four Ostinato Etudes" an original piece of music written by Allen Fogelsanger, director of music for the Cornell Dance Program, at Suber's request.
"The ballet and the computer piece started out as the same piece," Suber said. "The seminal motivation of examining modularity-- trying to fit the pieces of human movement together into a cohesive whole -- was the same, but the routes the pieces took were different." He compared his two concert pieces, and the concert as a whole, to "a montage; they may be very different, but the fact that they're presented together means that the audience is going to make connections."
The third work, "Fragments and Antidotes," is choreographed by Joyce Morgenroth, dance program coordinator. The piece was inspired by "November 19, 1828," a paean to Franz Schubert written by award-winning composer John Harbison, a music professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
After a brief intermission, the concert will continue with "Traumatic de-Idealization," choreographed and performed by Rebecca Stronger, a student in the College of Veterinary Medicine.
"I never danced until I came to Cornell in 1993," said Stronger, who will have just completed her course work when she performs this weekend. Describing her dancing and doctoring as "two separate passions," she said, "I'm so thankful I have been able to pursue both." She added, "Dancing has allowed me to escape the pressures of vet school; it's added a lot to my life."
She borrowed the title of her performance from an article about the powerlessness and ethical dilemmas that veterinary students routinely face, Stronger said. Her performance will illustrate such experiences, not only through dance but through taped recordings of her voice and even of the sounds from an anesthesia machine.
The next piece is "Embers," choreographed by faculty member Janice Kovar, who also dances in the piece. The inspiration, she said, came from the feature film "Quest for Fire." "What I remember most about the movie is that these people had never seen fire before, and they viewed it as something sacred that had to be nurtured," she said. "In this work, I am trying to recreate that magical moment for the audience." The dance is set to a contemporary musical composition by Japanese composer Somei Satoh.
The final performance at Dance Concert '97 is "Movements," choreographed by Chu and featuring "Logues, Ludes and Improvisations," an original composition by Fogelsanger.
Not all participants are directly affiliated with Cornell. Maud Selendy, 17, who performs in nearly all of the concert's pieces, took dance classes at Cornell while attending Ithaca High School and has remained active with the program since she graduated high school last year.
Other members of this year's dance concert team include: Cynthia Ann Orr Brookhouse, costume design; E.D. Intemann and Michael W. Williams, lighting design; and Tamara L. Honesty and Paula Horrigan, scene design.