Winter dance concert to explore opposing themes
Story by Janie Magruder
Photos by Darryl Webb
The concepts of balance and opposition might seem too at odds to coexist on the same stage. But Susannah Keita, director of the Dance Department at Grand Canyon University and artistic director of its winter concert, “Balance/Opposition,” doesn’t see it that way.
“Arranging movements through opposite extremes of shape, rhythm and dynamics can inspire limitless and varied responses,” according to Keita. “Even in the most abstract work, the choreographer’s quest for balance through opposition can depict our trials as humans.”
The Apostle Paul said balance is about cultivating peace even in the midst of chaos, by being rooted spiritually,” she pointed out. “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need,” Paul wrote in Philippians 4:12.
“Balance/Opposition,” presented by the College of Fine Arts and Production, will come to the stage at Ethington Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available here or by visiting the theatre box office, emailing [email protected] or calling 602-639-8880. Two matinees, for high school students and GCU students, also are planned at 9:30 a.m. Thursday and Friday. Students may click here for more information.
The 10-piece show, on which GCU faculty and dance students have been working since September, will feature two guest artists, Kimi Eisele and Scott Martin. Eisele is a Tucson-based writer, performing artist, director and educator who was the dance artist-in-residence at GCU this fall. Martin is a ballet instructor and an original member of Ballet Arizona.
“Despite all of our efforts to pull together, the tensions between the different influences and conversations are huge throughout society and the world,” Keita said. “The show is not just about movement, but it is an intelligent conversation about things that are happening today.”
Cori Hailmann, a senior dance education major, has danced in about a dozen concerts at GCU, but this is her first time at the helm as stage manager. Since September, Hailmann has been learning a different side of the industry, working behind the scenes with lighting and stage designers and choreographers, and creating the show order and technical schedules.
“There are things that I miss not being on stage, but this is a very holistic, real-life experience and a natural next step for me, especially as I get ready to go into the field,” said Hailmann, who will be student-teaching this spring.
The concert has something for everyone, she said.
“We have two comedic pieces (“How to Duet,” choreographed by Eisele and “Dance of the Crazy French Mints,” choreographed by faculty member Jenny Showalter), and there’s another piece (“Fear of the Unknown,” choreographed by faculty member Angel Crissman) that the audience will be drawn into because of its sadness,” she said.
The concerts also will feature two pieces that were choreographed by GCU students, “The Projection is Misleading to the Truth Unseen,” by junior Michelle Bissonnette, and “/’trēō/,” by senior Adam Astorga.
“Their pieces are that good, and they have incorporated what we are teaching in the program,” Keita said. “They are boldly facing their own direction, which is what we want them to do. We are guiding students to think critically and notice what paths artists and entertainers are taking in the world today.”
GCU student Ethan Rose will play violin during the piece, “Paper Doll,” choreographed by faculty member Bekki Price. The music is an original composition by Rose and fellow student Jeremy Whitaker. The concert will end with the 20-minute “Tunnel,” choreographed by faculty member Sean Dahlberg.
“Contemporary dance can be a total mishmash, a misunderstood genre that arose out of the modern dance tradition,” Keita said. “Sean is looking at contemporary dance through a jazz and ballet lens and brings in some quick-fire, virtuosic movement. He’s a really interesting artist and someone our students relate very well to.”
Contact Janie Magruder at 602-639-8018 or [email protected].