Mason Dance Gala Set for April 14

Posted: March 26, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

George Mason University’s Dance Company Gala is an opportunity to see dancers, on the threshold of their professional careers, performing work by some of today’s most intriguing and renowned choreographers. This year’s gala performances, on Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14, at 8 p.m., feature works by Paul Taylor, Larry Keigwin, Kate Skarpetowska and Mason alum Susan Shields.

Mason Dance will open the event with Larry Keigwin’s nonstop, energy-laden “Top Ten.” Keigwin, who has choreographed and performed for Broadway, off-Broadway and numerous dance companies, was the associate artistic director of Dendy Dance & Theater, and received a BESSIE Award for his performance in that company’s “Dream Analysis.”

Keigwin also danced in the companies of Jane Comfort, John Jasperse and Doug Elkins, to name a few, and performed in Doug Varone’s “La Sacre du Printemps” for the Metropolitan Opera. He formed Keigwin+Company “to nurture and enhance a vision for dance that explores personal relationships in the context of contemporary pop culture.”

Next, two accomplished company members will dance a new, romantic and balletic duet by Susan Shields, MFA Dance ’03. Shields, one of the dance world’s newest choreographic talents, has shared the stage with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Mark Morris and Lar Lubovitch.

An evening of her work, performed by a select group of outstanding regional companies — including the American Repertory Ballet, Boston Ballet II, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Richmond Ballet, and the Washington Ballet — will be showcased at the Center for the Arts later this month in “Susan Shields Ballet Cocktail.”

The intensely rhythmic Philip Glass-Ravi Shankar score for Kate Skarpetowska’s “Tidal Intersections” inspired the choreographer who envisioned waves crashing against the shore as dancers move gracefully in sea patterns.

Skarpetowska, who is currently working for the Battleworks Dance Company and Lar Lubovitch, was a member of the David Parsons Dance Company from 1999 to 2006. She performed in the 1992 Broadway musical “Metro,” which was directed and choreographed by Janusz Jozefowicz. Houston Metropolitan Dance Company, Hubbard Street 2, the Parsons Dance Company and many others have performed her choreography.

Known for their wit, warmth, musicality and excitement, Paul Taylor works are now in the repertoires of the American Ballet Theatre and the Royal Danish, Joffrey, San Francisco, Paris Opera and Houston Ballets, as well as many regional American dance companies.

Taylor’s “Esplanade,” set to J.S. Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major and Double Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor (largo and allegro), was first performed by Taylor’s company in 1975. Taylor company member Patrick Corbin set the dance on the Mason company during two campus visits, and Mason dance professor Constance Dinapoli, a former Paul Taylor dancer, is rehearsal director.

In a testament to the true essence of the gala as a launching pad for the next generation of dance artists, “Esplanade” marks Mason company member Billy Smith’s last performance with the troupe. In May, two days after his George Mason graduation, Smith will join the David Parsons Dance Company (Parsons is a former Paul Taylor dancer, and one of the many guest artists who have set their work on Mason dancers).

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