Arts

Point Park’s ‘Faculty Dance Concert’ kicks off season of student performances

By February 19, 2019 No Comments

Jeron Sanders, Drake Phouasavanh and Matthew Losco in ‘USO’
(Photo: Katie Ging)

As one of the nation’s premiere college dance programs, Point Park University has helped launch the careers of many dancers, choreographers and dance educators working today. Preparing those future dance professionals for such careers are the dance department’s talented instructors. Six of them will get to show off their choreographic and staging skills in Conservatory Dance Company’s upcoming Faculty Dance Concert, February 21-24 at the University’s George Rowland White Performance Center.

The annual concert, kicking off 2019’s offering by the student dance troupe features a diverse mix of dance styles from ballet to Broadway.

New professor of jazz, Rocker Verastique, who has probably the coolest name for a professor, makes his Faculty Dance Concert debut with new work “USO”.  A former dancer with American Ballet Theatre, Verastique has also appeared on Broadway in Contact, Chicago and Carousel and in 46 episodes of the television series Fame from 1983 – 1986. His 12-minute, 1940s styled, multimedia, theater-dance piece is for 16 women and 6 men costumed as showgirls and sailors. Danced to music by Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Joe Pots, the work says Verastique, is a tribute to his father who served in World War II and “is about democracy, patriotism and sacrifice.” 

A montage of abstracted moving portrayals is how dancer/choreographer Maree ReMalia describes her new work “Shimmer.” Created in collaboration with its 15 performers, the 19-minute piece is set to music by Los Angeles multi-genre music producer Steven Ellison (a.k.a. Flying Lotus) and others.

The South Korean-born, Ohio-raised ReMalia, who danced with Richmond Ballet and has a masters in choreography and performance from The Ohio State University to go with a certification in Gaga (no relation to “Lady”) movement language, says for “Shimmer” she incorporated set designs and video projections that can be seen in her upcoming evening-length work, A Letter Compiled From All Letters with Gigi Gatewood and Lillian Cho which will premiere June 13-15 at the New Hazlett Theater.

“Synergy” is Matthew Powell’s latest work for CDC that he describes as “a study of the manner in which movement affects both dancer and audience member.” Powell, who danced with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Kansas City Ballet and was a New York Choreographic Institute fellowship award-winner, says the 9-minute neo-classical ballet in 2-sections features an all-female cast of a dozen and “works to compare and contrast artistic energy in many forms.”

Longtime faculty member Kiesha Lalama’s new work “The Box” she says, “introduces a magical world that opens the pathways to various and emotional stories expressed through thematic soundtracks.” The multifaceted Lalama who has created more than 50 works for such dance companies as Ballet Arkansas, Giordano Dance Chicago and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, was also the choreographer on the feature films The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), Sorority Row (2009) and the 2012 television documentary Broadway or Bust.  Her 15 minute, multimedia work for 17 dancers is set music by The White Stripes, Michael Jackson and others.

A restaging of a work choreographer Jason McDole originally created for CDC in the Fall of 2007, “Conscious” is a 10-minute contemporary/modern dance work for a cast of twelve set to music by Polish composer Wojciech Kilar. A Juilliard grad, McDole has danced in the companies of Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch and David Parsons. Of “Conscious” McDole says: “Everything you say and do have a rippling effect — good or bad. What do you choose? As humans we have the power to create our immediate future. Our thoughts, actions and hearts create the very existence we wish to experience in our lifetime.”

Rounding out the program will be former Chair of the Department of Dance, Susan Stowe’s restaging of Act II of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s ballet Swan Lake danced to music by Tchaikovsky.

Conservatory Dance Company presents their Faculty Dance Concert, February 21-24 at the University’s George Rowland White Performance Center, 201 Wood Street. Tickets are $10 students and seniors, $20 -24 general and can be purchased by calling the Pittsburgh Playhouse box office at (412) 392-8000 or visiting pittsburghplayhouse.com.

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