University Dance season finale not to be missed

Sunday, May 5, 2002

The University Dance Company, Kansas University Symphony Orchestra and the KU choirs combined Saturday night at the Lied Center to deliver a fitting finale to KU's music and dance performance season � and to bid a final farewell to retiring KU symphony conductor Brian Priestman.

The first half opened with Jerel Hilding's beautifully choreographed ballet "Tchaikowsky Variations," set to the orchestra's inspired playing. The dance alternated among duets, solos and group work as pirouettes, leaps and long extensions were gracefully executed. Deanna Doyle lit up the stage with her technical mastery and fluent moves.

Choreographers Muriel Cohan and Patrick Suzeau teamed to create a piece that evoked the energy and fun found at the beach. The work mixed modern dance, acrobatics and a sense of playfulness. The partnering work of Lillian Wu and Jun Kuribayashi was most impressive as they completed difficult lifts and side-by-side leaps.

The set ended with "Hot Tropics," by guest choreographer Eluza Santos. The work sizzled with Brazilian-style dance and martial arts movements. Again, Kuribayashi dazzled the audience with his athleticism.

The concert's second half was, in effect, a tribute to Priestman as the choirs and the musicians performed two challenging Johannes Brahms works. The first, "Schicksalslied Op. 54," began calmly and then took on more emotion as the voices of the singers blended with the voices of the instruments. The second, "Academic Festival Overture," was a mix of drinking songs that allowed Priestman to direct his baton one last time at the orchestra.

The 2 1/2-hour concert will be performed again at 2:30 p.m. today at the Lied Center. If you can, go. You'll not only see the best performance ever by the University Dance Company but you'll also get the chance to show Priestman just how much he will be missed.