Washington University Dance Theatre to present rEvolutions Nov. 30 to Dec. 2

Concert to feature works by Alwin Nikolais, Diadié Bathily and Paula Weber

Washington University Dance Theatre (WUDT), the annual showcase of professionally choreographed works performed by student dancers, will present rEvolutions, its 2007 concert, Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in Edison Theatre.

Performances — sponsored by the Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences — begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2.

*Tensile Involvement* by Alwin Nikolais
*Tensile Involvement* by Alwin Nikolais, from *rEvolutions,* the 2007 Washington University Dance Theatre concert, in Edison Theatre Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.

Tickets are $15 — $9 for students, senior citizens and Washington University faculty and staff — and are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets. Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. For more information, call (314) 935-6543.

rEvolutions will feature more than 50 dancers, selected by audition, performing seven works by faculty and guest choreographers.

“It’s a large cast but we have a particularly strong group of dancers in the department this year,” notes Cecil Slaughter, senior lecturer in dance and director of WUDT. “For the choreographers, it meant making some hard choices because there was just so much talent in the room.

“Though some works can be grouped together thematically, they’re all very different — and require different kinds of dancers,” Slaughter continues. “I picked dancers not just for the way they move, but for how their personalities come through on stage. Other choreographers might have been looking for more technical dancers, or dancers who can improvise and think on their feet, or dancers who are sensitive to one another and their surroundings.”

*And All that Jazz* by David W. Marchant
*And All that Jazz* by David W. Marchant

A highlight of the concert will be Tensile Involvement (1953), a signature work by the innovative multimedia choreographer Alwin Nikolais (1910-1993). Set by Alberto del Saz, artistic director of the Murray Louis and Nikolais Dance Company, this striking piece consists of 10 performers manipulating a large grid of colorful elastic bands, which are attached to their hands and feet. The resulting patterns and forms require extreme precision yet create an ever-changing cat’s cradle of line, space and kinetic energy.

“Nikolais was a revolutionary choreographer as well as a designer and composer, but many of our students had never seen his work before,” Slaughter explains. “With those elastic bands, anything can happen — you really need to be able to think on the spot.”

Earlier this month, Tensile Involvement was performed by Utah’s acclaimed Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company as part of Nikolais Dance Theatre, an evening-length concert of Nikolais’ choreography presented by the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series.

“We thought it would be very interesting to have students see it performed by a professional company a few weeks before staging it themselves,” Slaughter adds. “And of course, having such an important historical work on the concert prompted all of the choreographers to start thinking about our own artistic processes.”

*Les Amazones du Bénin* by Diadié Bathily
*Les Amazones du Bénin* by Diadié Bathily

In addition to Tensile Involvement, the concert will feature new works by guest artists Diadié Bathily, executive and artistic director of the Afriky Lolo dance company; and Paula Weber, associate professor of ballet at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music.

Bathily’s Les Amazones du Bénin tells the story of the Dahomey Amazons, an all-female regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey (now Bénin), West Africa, through a combination of dances from the Malinké and Fon ethnic groups. Founded in the late 17th-century, the Dahomey Amazons remained active for roughly 200 years and were actually given their name by Western observers and historians due to their striking similarities to the Amazons of Greek myth.

Weber’s Sorbet blends traditional ballet technique with a movement vocabulary drawn from jazz, modern and ethnic dances. Set to a percussive soundtrack, this work for six dancers was created during a recent residency and consists of five distinct movements.

Other works on the program include:

*Grid* by Cecil Slaughter
*Grid* by Cecil Slaughter

Shifting Sightlines: Mary-Jean Cowell, associate professor and coordinator of the Dance Program, choreographs this work in collaboration with the eight dancers. “The theme of this dance is shifting perceptions of ourselves and others that evolve through time and in relationships with different people and situations,” Cowell notes.

And All that Jazz: David W. Marchant, senior lecturer in dance, choreographs this work for 12 dancers, which he describes as “an homage/collage of late 20th-century jazz dance vocabulary, composed in a ‘minimalist’ form.”

The Seasons: Christine Knoblauch-O’Neal, senior lecturer and director of the Ballet Program, choreographs this ambitious work for 22 dancers, which “pictures the four seasons in a somewhat different light — at times dramatic, but often just playful and poetic.”

Grid: Slaughter choreographs this piece for 18 dancers. “This work is about constructing and deconstructing boundaries such as racial, gender specific and territorial through the exchange of energy,” he explains. “It’s based on different patterns — patterns of thought, patterns of behavior, patterns of reaction — and what happens when they intersect.”

Calendar Summary

WHO: Washington University Dance Theatre

WHAT: rEvolutions

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2

WHERE: Edison Theatre, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

COST: $15; $9 for seniors, students and Washington University faculty and staff. Available at the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets.

INFORMATION: (314) 935-6543