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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY DANCE COMPANY PRESENTS 2009 GALA CONCERT

March 5, 2009
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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY DANCE COMPANY

PRESENTS

2009 GALA CONCERT

Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 8 p.m.

Center for the Arts Concert Hall

·       Featuring Elisa Monte’s signature dance “Pigs and Fishes”

·       The premiere of “Beyond the Sky” by Susan Shields

·       The stunning cohesive ensemble work of David Parsons’ “Nascimento Novo”

 

FAIRFAX, Va., March 5, 2009George Mason University Dance Company’s 2009 Gala Concert is an opportunity to experience this spectacular repertory company of talented dancers at the start of their professional careers, performing the choreography of America’s masters of modern dance. This year’s performances feature Elisa Monte’s signature dance “Pigs and Fishes”; the premiere of  “Beyond the Sky” by Mason Dance Professor Susan Shields; Robert Battle’s trio “Enter,” performed by three Mason dance faculty members; and the stunning cohesive ensemble work of David Parsons’ “Nascimento Novo.” The 2009 Gala Concert takes place at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Mason’s Fairfax campus on Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28 at 8 p.m. A company about which Mark Morris has said, “The program is really doing something right,” Mason Dance Company’s recent graduates include Rita Donahue (B.F.A., 2002), a member of the Mark Morris Dance Group, and Billy Smith (B.F.A., 2007), a member of the Parsons Dance Company, which performed at the Center for the Arts this past February.

The Mason Dance Company opens the program with Elisa Monte’s “Pigs and Fishes,” set to music by Glenn Branca. According to the Elisa Monte Dance web site, this work from 1982 is a “powerful and driving piece focusing on the coming together of forces in a communal triumph over society and culture.” Considered one of the most popular works in Monte’s repertoire, “Pigs and Fishes” was Monte’s first major commission, requested by Alvin Ailey for his legendary dance troupe. “The dancers threw themselves backward in ecstatic, rhythmic leaps, their hands linked in front of them and rotating as if churning the air. It was both surprising and urgent.” (The New York Times)

Elisa Monte entered the world of professional dance at an early age, debuting in New York with Agnes De Mille in City Center’s revival of “Carousel” at age 11, and attending the prestigious School of American Ballet. After working as a principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, Lar Lubovitch and Pilobolus, Monte turned her attention to choreography and founded the company that bears her name. She has since created more than 40 works, which have been performed by her company, as well as many other notable dance companies, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Teatro alla Scalla Ballet and the Batsheva Dance Company of Israel. Monte was among the first choreographers awarded a commission by the National Choreography Project, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, Exxon Corporation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Next, the Mason Dance Company premieres “Beyond the Sky” by Mason dance professor and choreographer Susan Shields, set to music by Marjan Mozetich. Inspired by the unfolding October skies, Shields has created a rapturous work that suggests what life in the heavens may feel like – the ability to help those in need and the rushing beauty of the wind in nature are images that swirl through this stunning dance.

Shields is a recipient of the 2006 Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography, and her work appears in the repertoires of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Washington Ballet, Richmond Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, Boston Ballet II, Ballet West and City Dance Ensemble. In 2005, the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts commissioned Shields to create a ballet for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She has performed nationally and internationally as a member of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, and was partnered with Baryshnikov in Mark Morris’ acclaimed dance, “The Argument.” She was also a member of the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, and performed with the Mark Morris Dance Group in “The Hard Nut,” as well as with the Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians, Eliot Feld Ballet New York and the Washington Ballet, where she received her training.

The program also includes Robert Battle’s trio “Enter,” performed by Adriane Fang, formerly of Doug Varone and Dancers; Constance Dinapoli, formerly of the Paul Taylor Dance Company; and Karen Reedy, director of Karen Reedy Dance. All three are faculty in the Mason Department of Dance. Celebrated soprano Rosa Lamoreaux sings the Richard Strauss score, accompanied by pianist Betty Bullock and violinist Elizabeth Field.  

A graduate of the New World School of the Arts and the Julliard School, Robert Battle danced with the Parsons Dance Company from 1994-2001 and began choreographing for the company in 1998. In 2001, he founded Battleworks Dance Company, which has since performed extensively in New York City and at venues across the country, including The Joyce Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, American Dance Festival and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Battle is in high demand as an independent choreographer and has received commissions from the Hubbard Street Repertory Ensemble, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Ailey II, River North Dance Company, Koresh Dance Company, Introdans and PARADIGM. In 2005, Battle was honored at the Kennedy Center with a medal proclaiming him one of the “Masters of African-American Choreography,” and he has recently been honored with the coveted Princess Grace Statue Award for achievements in choreography.

The 2009 Gala Concert concludes with a dazzling interpretation of David Parsons’ “Nascimento Novo,” a stunning work inspired by the mesmerizing and exotic music of legendary Brazilian composer and longtime Parsons Dance collaborator, Milton Nascimento. According to the Parsons Dance web site, the piece uses “the world-renowned percussionists of Nascimento’s band, and the new music represents an astonishing array of Brazilian instruments and styles rarely heard outside of Brazil. The piece explores themes of sensuality, community and, above all, the stunning cohesion of ensemble work.” The George Mason University Dance Company had the privilege of rehearsing with David Parsons and performing the work for Parsons Dance when the company performed at the Center for the Arts in February. In this performance, two drummers provide accompaniment to the dancers on the stage.

A former lead dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, David Parsons has had a remarkable career as a performer, choreographer, teacher, director and producer of dance. In addition to his work with Parsons Dance, he has received numerous commissions from the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Dance Festival and the Spoleto Festival, to name a few. His work has also been performed by the Paris Opera Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Nederlands Danse Theatre, National Ballet of Canada, Hubbard Street Dance and the Batsheva Dance Company of Israel. “One of the great movers of modern dance.” (The New York Times)

For further program information, please call the Dance Department at (703) 993-1114 or visit dance.gmu.edu.

 

Tickets for the George Mason University Dance Company 2009 Gala Concert are $20 adults, $12 students/staff/seniors. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit www.tickets.com. The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K.  Visit www.gmu.edu/cfa

The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music and Theater.

About George Mason University

George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason’s Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 35 law schools in the United States.