The Sam Houston State University dance program will present a “deeply eclectic” and whimsical program featuring the works of faculty and students as part of its semiannual Dance Spectrum Concert Wednesday through Saturday (April 18-21).
Performances will begin at 8 p.m. each evening, with a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee, in the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center Dance Theater.
“Whimsy” will feature the works of dance faculty members Jonathan Charles, Cindy Gratz, Dana Nicolay, Andy Noble, Dionne Sparkman Noble, Jennifer Pontius, and Erin Reck, as well as a student work by Ashley Clos that represented SHSU at the American College Dance Festival earlier this year.
“Strata,” by Nicolay and graduate student Alicia Marie Carlin, provides the “wow” factor for the evening, working in the medium of aerial dance to fill the stage high and low with layers of fabric and moving bodies, according to Sparkman Noble.
Carlin, a former dancer with aerial dance company Blue Lapis Light based in Austin, brings to the collaboration the technical knowledge of aerial dance, and Nicolay brings the artistic impetus, to create an abstract visual of the beginning of time.
“This work is driven by the commonalities that exist between scientific concepts of the origins of the universe and mythological explanations of those same events,” Nicolay said. “There is much harmony between the two views.”
Thinking outside of the box, Andy Noble and his large cast bring to life a wacky variety show/dance merged into one, featuring off-the-wall skits that interrupt street-style dancing set to the sounds of “dub step,” in “The Dance Patch,” according to Sparkman Noble.
“This work pokes a little fun at the mainstream commercial dance styles by thrusting them into unconventional situations generating giggles and chuckles from the viewers,” he said.
“Chameleon” is another spontaneously amusing work by Gratz.
"In some ways it is about that universal need to fit in. Sometimes it's better to just go out in the grass and act green," Gratz said. “The good-natured, sometimes scary, always entertaining lizards in this dance will keep you on the edge of your seats. Audiences are invited to eat along with the chameleons as they enjoy an occasional munch on gummy worms.”
On the classic side, Pontius resets “Les Sylphides” (1909) and “Le Spectre de la Rose” (1911), two landmark ballet works by master choreographer Michel Fokine.
“As with any ballet choreographed prior to the late 20th century—from ‘Giselle’ to ‘Swan Lake’ to ‘Coppelia’—the versions now performed bear limited resemblance to the original works,” Pontius said. “My intention has been to honor the delicate, airy, fanciful character of the ballet in a condensed form, using the movement patterns and gestures contemporary audiences associate with these revered ballets.”
Inspired by some of the greatest movie star dancers of the 1930s and 40s, Charles presents “Song Book,” set to music by George and Ina Gershwin.
“Flowing gowns, high heels and elegant hairstyles take you back to the days when Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers took the stage,” he said.
“About Flippin’ Time” by Sparkman Noble is an organized look at themes of agitation and perturbation.
“Loose, quirky movement is paired with moments of perverse manipulation to create a subtly humorous world set to techno music,” Sparkman Noble said.
Reck’s “There Are Things We Don’t Know We Share” investigates a unique incubation process that used elements of improvisation, a video camera and a few rules to create.
“The result is an emotionally raw performance by some of the SHSU graduate students that stops you dead in your tracks,” Reck said.
Invited student work “Spin Cycle Symphony,” by Clos, is set to the sounds of Mark Mothersbaugh.
“Clos’ sense of form, comedy and invention fills out this delightful work of music visualization with a few surprising twists and turns,” Sparkman Noble said.
Tickets are $17 for general admission, $14 senior citizens and SHSU faculty, and $5 for SHSU Students.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, call the GPAC Box Office at 936.294.2339.