Concert to feature choreography of modern dance legend Limón

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Those who arrive early to Thursday's University Dance Company concert are in for a rare treat.

To reconstruct the intimacy of baroque dances as they would have been performed during the period, a pair will stage selections from a baroque suite in the balcony and lower lobby of the Lied Center.

"They want people to see the dances close up, as they would have been seen in the baroque period," said KU dance professor Joan Stone, who reconstructed the dances from notated scores by dancing masters of Bach's time. "In the baroque period, it would have been done in a very small salon or a very small theater. They really were very intimate performances."

During the program, "Fashionable Dances of 1700" will be performed on the raised orchestra pit in an attempt to bring the dancers closer to the audience.

The other offerings in the fall dance program don't face nearly the risk of being swallowed in the vastness of the Lied Center. The company will dance excerpts from legendary modern dancer Jose Limón's masterpiece, "Choreographic Offering." Guest artist Sarah Stackhouse, a principal dancer with the Limón Company for years and now a major figure in keeping his works alive, staged the excerpts for 22 members of the university company during a two-week residency in September.

Stone said acclimating to the shapes and sense of weight in the Limón piece had been a challenge for students.

"The sense of weight in modern dance has become much lighter since the pioneering days," she said. "In the days of Limón, people were not trained in ballet and jazz; they were really trained primarily in modern. They had a sense of weight, which is what I see as different and difficult for our students. But the shapes are also unusual."

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Special to the Journal-World

Members of the University Dance Company at Kansas University rehearse for their Thursday concert. The company will perform a range of dances, including excerpts from Jose Limón's "Choreographic Offering."

The choreography of other KU dance faculty will be showcased at the concert as well. Jerel Hilding's "Champagne Polka" is a dance for seven women and three men to music by Hans Christian Lumbye. Hilding also choreographed a romantic pas de deux to Sergei Rachmaninov's "Daisies" and "Dreams."

In "Kinetic Calligraphy" by Patrick Suzeau, the dancers are propelled by the music of contemporary composer Chichun Chi-Sun Lee, who lived in Lawrence until recently. Muriel Cohan's "Accents," set to Alberto Ginastera's "Sonata No. 1," is billed as a highly energetic and rhythmically driving work.

Willie Lenoir created "Ritmas de Danzas," a choreographic romp to the Latin rhythms of "Las Verduras," performed by the guitar duo of Strunz and Farah.

Stone's baroque suite will be set to Bach's "French Suite No. 5," played by Marie Rubis Bauer on the harpsichord.

The steps in baroque dance are very small and delicate, Stone said, and it takes some time to get accustomed to looking at them.

The University Dance Company will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Lied Center. Tickets :quot; $7 for the public, $5 for students and seniors :quot; are on sale at the Lied Center, 864-ARTS; Murphy Hall, 864-3982; and SUA Office, 864-SHOW.

"I had one dancer who used to say to me, 'Joan, every time I do these dances, I feel like the couple on top of the wedding cake,'" Stone said. "But they're quite wonderful in their own way and expressive in their own way. You just have to adjust your sites to the baroque scale."