The UTM Dance Ensemble entertained audiences at 8:00 p.m. on April 14 and 15 with a collection of nine dances using techniques varying from ballet to postmodern dance.
The ensemble was accompanied by the UTM Wind Ensemble, conducted by Dr. Gregg Gausline, and the New Pacer Singers, conducted by Dr. Fred Spano.
The performers also danced to recorded music for several of the pieces. The use of live music during the performance was more enjoyable than expected said Professor Doug Cook, chair of Dept. of Visual and Theatre Arts.
The dance ensemble started the evening with La Nobilite di Dame, a piece choreographed to Courtly Airs and Dances which was performed by the UTM Wind Ensemble. Six dancers performed this lively dance.
Starring at Morris was the centerpiece of the program. The ensemble first began working on this piece in October 2002. Because of time restraints on rehearsals, the ensemble had to spend a majority of its time on one piece.
“With such a huge program, it’s hard to spend enough time with each piece,” said Alix Miller, Artistic Director of the Dance Ensemble.
”Aside from being tired and sore, the program went well,” said Justin Paschall, a member of the Dance Ensemble.
Themes for several of the dances focused on a variety of emotions including love, sadness and chaos.
Down a Country Lane, performed by Miranda Casteel and Joseph Kendrick, deals with the love shared by the two individuals. Beautiful Sorrow shows the mourning for the loss of someone close. Chaos is shown in Stress-Related. In this piece, the dancers violently shook their bodies while moving around a single performer who sat in the center of the stage. The performers ended this dance not with the usual bow but with screams directed at the audience.
“Stress-Related shows that dancers can act as well as dance,” said Callie Milam, a freshman Theatre major from Memphis.
“I was very impressed with the size of the audience and I enjoyed working with the other dancers,” said Victoria Shaw, a sophomore Communications major from Dyer who performed in three of the pieces for the program.
“I wish there was more ballet, but [the performance] was good – very educational,” said Amy Mulcahy of South Fulton who plans to attend UTM in the fall.
Miller choreographed eight of the dance pieces. Alix Miller is the Assistant Professor of Dance at UTM. Erin Healan, who taught ballet and modern dance at the Contemporary Arts Center and New Orleans Dance Academy, choreographed the other piece, Joint Venture, which was a dark, physical piece.
Both choreographers danced professionally before teaching. “The dancers exhibited a lot of talent. I was pleasantly surprised,” said Haley Robinson, a junior Political Science and French major from Hendersonville.
“It was an excellent performance… the only thing that didn’t surprise me is that there was variety,” said Cook.