MCA’s Dance Repertory Company’s annual spring concert, Words in Motion will be held 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 15, and 3 p.m. Saturday, April 16, in Saint Mary’s University’s Page Theatre.
For more than four decades, the Dance Repertory Company (DRC) has delighted the Winona community with quality dance productions, featuring local dancers in classical and contemporary works. This year the DRC presents a production inspired by literature. The DRC is the pre-professional performance group of the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts (MCA). Company members participate in rehearsals, technique classes, and stage performances.
This production will feature pieces from numerous genres of dance including hip hop, modern, jazz, tap, contemporary ballet and pointe. As a special treat for audience members, Winona’s independent bookseller, The Bookshelf will have a variety of books related to the dance concert available for purchase. A portion of book purchase proceeds will be donated to MCA to support the dancers and production costs. Read on to learn more about the pieces and what their choreographer has to say about their inspiration and creative process.
When choreographer Christine Martin considered her tap piece, Rhythm of the Soul for the show, she wanted to put together a contemporary rhythm tap piece. She chose, as her inspiration, a quote from Beethoven, “Don’t only practice your art but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.” Tap has its own secret language. Martin worked with her dancers to elicit emotional and impactful dance focusing on the artistry of tap, and to fit into the music as instruments themselves.
In a pointe ballet piece inspired by the beloved poem “Footprints in the Sand” by Maragret Fishback. Well, more specifically, the last two lines of the poem. Choreographer Rachel Nehring was inspired by how those words illustrate that none of us get through hard times alone; that we are all bolstered by forces either seen or unseen…family, friends, community, faith. This pointe ballet piece, Footprints featuring the music of Shostakovich, and illustrates this theme through classical choreography.
Tammy Schmidt’s contemporary ballet piece, Hot Dishes and Memories is a portrait of Minnesota life through the seasons. Author Peg Meier’s book Wishing for a Snow Day, the written inspiration for this ballet, features collected diary entries from Minnesotans from many decades, newspaper articles and photographs, all used to give a portrait of growing up in Minnesota. To choreograph this jubilant and high-energy ballet, Schmidt focused on the verbs in the journal entries to drive the choreography. Featuring dancers of many ages and abilities, this ballet will bring you back to your childhood.
Kid You’ll Move Mountains, the Hip Hop piece for this year’s show will be one to behold. When choreographer Jessica Dienger considered what written work might go hand-in-hand with a high-energy hip hop routine, the whimsical Dr. Seuss quickly came to mind. Utilizing some of her favorite stories, including The Sneetches, Oh the Places You’ll Go, and The Butter Battle Book, Dienger weaves together a high-impact piece sure to please. With Sneetches (both with stars and without), Butter Battlers who can’t agree which side of the toast takes the butter, and a fun furniture-filled dance routine in The Waiting Place, much fun will be had. Just think of the costumes!
“No one leaves home, unless home is the mouth of a shark.” This evocative stanza in poet Warsan Shire’s “Home” gives voice to the plight of millions of refugees worldwide. Choreographer Jennifer Taber-O’Neill’s beautiful modern dance piece features three talented dancers in three interludes, bringing the audience into the emotional journey of those forced to flee everything they know and the people they love. In the end, we are left with the encouragement that something can be done about this crisis.
The show will close with; One Night at Gatsby’s by Choreographer Jessica Dienger who takes us back to the Roaring ‘20s, to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby in a high energy jazz piece. Utilizing period costumes, we are transported to the party scene where Gatsby attempts to get Daisy to come to his house. Dienger utilizes a modernized version of a Charleston style for this fun and dramatic piece.
Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 15, and 3 p.m. Saturday, April 16. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors and $10 for adults and may be ordered online at www.pagetheatre.org or at the Saint Mary’s Box Office, 507-457-1715 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. For more information about MCA or the DRC, visit www.mnconservatoryforthearts.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, “like” them on Facebook, or call 507-453-5500.
The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts offers programming in dance music, visual art, and theatre, year-round. Classes, lessons, workshops, and camps are offered for children ages 18mo. and older through adults at the Valéncia Arts Center, located at 1164 West 10th St.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts is an affiliate program of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.