Choreographer wants dancers to feel 'sensations'

KU dance concert shows off faculty's creations

Choreographer Tom Ralabate had a clear goal when he worked earlier this spring with University Dance Company members.

He not only wanted to create a new jazz dance but he also wanted to make the students aware of the sensations created by each movement of that dance.


Earl Richardson/Journal-World Photo

Her fellow dancers reflected in the mirror behind her, Deanna Doyle dances during a rehearsal Thursday night of Tom Ralabate's "Insides." The work is part of a University Dance Company concert that will be presented Thursday and Friday at the Lied Center.

The work, titled "Insides," is set to the techno/jazz/electronic music of Orbital and designed for about 10 dancers. It will be performed at the University Dance Company spring concert at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Lied Center.

"('Insides') is classical and contemporary. It's a blend of styles and elements and includes street vernacular and modern ballet," said Ralabate during a phone call from State University of New York-Buffalo, where he co-directs the university's dance program and directs the Zodiaque Dance Company.

"It's a ripple of emotion for the dancers. They ripple across the landscape. I talked to (the KU dancers) about feeling the sensation through the body with each movement, and then layering that to create the work."

Ralabate worked with the University Dance Company members for four days in early March. They taped the sessions so the dancers could remember the moves after he returned to New York.

"The dancers worked very hard during those four days," Ralabate said. "I was impressed with their work ethic. They danced full-out through the process."

Ralabate, a former ballroom dance champion and winner of the Dance Masters of America's Ivy Hall Award, said he is not going to be able to attend the performance of "Insides" because of dance presentations and student exams at the New York university.

"Insides" is one of six works that will be performed at the concert. The show opens with "Janjara," choreographed by KU dance instructor Willie Lenoir. Set to the driving, rhythmic beat of James Asher's music, the dancers' moves are a mix of modern, African and primitive techniques.

"Leaving Home," choreographed by Joan Stone, director of the KU dance program, is inspired by "Homesickness," a musical composition by Chihchun Chi-sun Lee. The dance expresses the conflicted emotions of reaching forward to a new experience and reaching back toward home. Stone and Chi-sun Lee, recipients of the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation Award, will present the piece May 6 in New York City.

"Patterns," choreographed by KU associate professor of dance Muriel Cohan, is a work in four movements set to "Oboe Concerto in C Major" by Domenico Cimarosa. The choreography calls for 11 dancers to maintain a constantly changing dialogue with the music, exploring its contrasts and rich textures.

KU dance instructor Patrick Suzeau set his "Ode" to traditional Japanese music. The work has an affinity with Zen brush painting and calligraphy, basing the movements of the dancers upon breath rhythm. The work was selected last month for the gala concert of the American College Dance Festival. Suzeau will precede the sextet with a solo performance.

"Chacun a Son Gout," which translates to "each to his or her own taste," is a farcical tale of love and the myriad forms it takes. Choreographed by Jerel Hilding, KU associate professor of dance, the work is performed by 13 dancers. The music comes from "Pulchinella," Stravinsky's reworking of fragments of music composed by Pergolesi.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.