posted February 22, 2006

Dance 32 to Showcase Guest Choreographers

Guest faculty/choreographers Jacqueline Bird and Jon Lehrer will present two separate works to be featured at Hope College's annual faculty-choreographed dance concert, Dance 32, and through their participation are offering an expanded experience to the event's student dancers.

The concert will be held Thursday-Saturday, March 9-11, at 8 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre.

Bird's piece "Cellphonehypnotic" combines humor and satire to drive the storyline in the hope of inspiring the audience members to think about their personal attachments to technology. Hope junior Sommer Amundsen of Coon Rapids, Minn., one of the dancers in the work, describes it as "a social commentary on cell phone etiquette and... how [cell phones are] getting in the way of real human interaction."

The style of movement Bird uses to convey her message is a mix of Jazz Funk and Hip-Hop with a focus on theatrical expression.

Bird describes her movement style as Jazz Funk because it mixes commercial dance with the techniques of Ballet and Modern, which gives her choreography a unique style. Amundsen noted how much Bird's distinctive style and presence at Hope have impacted her as well as others, giving them an opportunity to grow in a new way.

"She chose some dancers who don't always get chosen because they're theatrical dancers instead of technically focused," Amundsen said. "I've gained confidence and grown as a dancer because of the theatrical focus of the piece."

Jon Lehrer's "Oceanic Nymph" explores on a different theme, focusing, as described by student dancer Joanna Leeman, on "underwater creatures and the way they interact and live in the ocean." The piece lends itself to duets and solos to show the creatures' interactions, with each dancer seen apart from the larger group.

Lehrer's work is modern in style, but incorporates elements of other techniques as well because, according to Lehrer, "dance is all about the fusion of styles now. Just like in society everything is fusing together."

The students with whom he worked appreciated his choreography due to his individualistic use of movement, partnering and imagery.

"It's a beautiful piece," said Leeman, a junior from Plainfield, Ill. "It has lots of imagery and wit."

"[The piece] is interesting to watch," said junior Erin Whaley of Trenton. "It's got bright colors, interesting movement, and incredibly creative and unique partnering."

Rehearsal director for Bird's piece is Linda Graham of the Hope dance faculty. Maxine DeBruyn of the dance faculty is rehearsal director for Lehrer's work.

Tickets for Dance 32 are available at the ticket office in the front lobby of the DeVos Fieldhouse, and cost $7 for regular admission and $5 for senior citizens, students, and members of the Hope College faculty and staff.

The ticket office is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be called at (616) 395-7890. On performance nights the theatre lobby ticket office in the DeWitt Center will be open shortly before the curtain rises.

The DeVos Fieldhouse is located facing Fairbanks Avenue between 9th and 11th streets. The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.