PAD faculty’s ‘Dance Close Up’ informal launch to St. Louis’ dance season

Modern solos and structured improvisation will share the stage with classical Indian and contemporary Chinese dance in “Dance Close Up,” the biennial concert of new and original choreography by faculty in the Dance Program in the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. Sept. 4 and 5 and at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sept. 6 and take place in the Annelise Mertz Dance Studio in the Mallinckrodt Student Center.

Cecil Slaughter, senior lecturer in dance in the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences, will perform a solo dance titled “Inheritance” about respecting and honoring the past.

Launched in 1995, the concert (which alternates each year with Young Choreographers’ Showcase, a juried student show) serves as the unofficial kickoff to St. Louis’ professional dance season. This year’s showcase will feature 11 works choreographed and performed by full-time and adjunct faculty.

” ‘Dance Close Up’ reflects the breadth of styles and expertise among the University’s dance faculty,” said artistic director Mary-Jean Cowell, Ph.D., associate professor and coordinator of the Dance Program. “In addition, this year’s concert will feature a contemporary Chinese dance — a first for ‘Dance Close Up’ — as well as a restaging of a classic improvisational structure by the late choreographer Richard Bull.”

Postdoctoral fellow Ting-Ting Chang, Ph.D., choreographs and performs “The Peacock Dance,” which explores the image and movement of the peacock and is based on traditional dance movements of the Dai ethnic minority group in Yunnan, China. Chang, who holds a doctorate in dance from the University of California, Riverside, studies contemporary dance development in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Cynthia Kahn, PAD department administrator, and Sarah Anne Patz, adjunct lecturer, will direct a performance of Bull’s “Waterwheel,” a work for three dancers in which improvised movements gradually coalesce into a collective structure. Kahn is a former member of the St. Louis’ Off Track Dancers (OTD), which she founded with Patz in 1976. In the early 1980s, OTD collaborated repeatedly with Bull’s Improvisational Dance Ensemble, later known as the Richard Bull Dance Theatre.

Performers for “Waterwheel” include Patz, Cowell and Christine Knoblauch-O’Neal, senior lecturer in dance and director of the Ballet Program. Rounding out the cast are adjunct instructors in dance Dawn Karlovsky and Mary Ann Rund.

Also on the program:

“December.” This “contemporary art dance” by David Marchant, senior lecturer in dance, abstractly depicts “scenes from a person’s life, perhaps as if viewed retrospectively near death.” It is set to the sound of Marchant’s own breathing.

“Inheritance.” Cecil Slaughter, senior lecturer in dance, choreographs and performs this solo about “respecting the past and acknowledging and honoring those memories that sustain us in the present.” Slaughter, who also serves as artistic director of the annual Washington University Dance Theatre, is founder and director of The Slaughter Project company.

“Tango and Fox Trot.” Adjunct instructors Estella and Randy Ruzicka, founders of The Tango Society of St. Louis, choreograph and perform these traditional dances. Music for the fox trot will be “Dancing in the Dark” by the Ralph Flanagan Orchestra and for the tango Robert Duval’s “Assassination Tango.”

“Tete a Trois.” Cowell choreographs and performs in this contemporary trio, which she describes as “a tongue-in-cheek meditation on late 19th-century rapturous emotion.” Also featured are Karlovsky and Rund.

“Vacant Love.” Karlovsky and Rund choreograph and perform a series of duets inspired by female vocalists, which explore the theme of investment and return in relationships.

“Portals.” Rund choreographs and performs this solo, which she describes as “an investigation into the utilization of a meditative state for the purpose of accessing less-conscious levels of the creative mind.”

“Untitled.” Knoblauch-O’Neal will perform this solo work choreographed by Beckah Voight, head of the dance program at Webster University.

“Lakshmi.” Adjunct instructor Asha Prem choreographs and performs a classical Indian dance centering on the titular deity. Prem is founder and director of St. Louis’ celebrated School of Dances of India.

Finally, percussionist Henry Claude, music director for the Dance Program, will perform with Los Flamencos, which also includes guitarist Lliam Christy, vocalist Josie Niemira and dancers Kristen Rinden Christy and Beth Steinbrenner.

Tickets are $12 for students, faculty, staff, children and seniors and $17 for the public. Floormat seating, in keeping with the event’s intimate, informal atmosphere, is available for $6.

Tickets are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office, located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, and through all MetroTix outlets. For more information, call 935-6543.