Jamaican guest artist adds his cultural inspiration to annual concert of dance faculty choreography
(April 13, 2005) GENEVA, N.Y.—The Dance Department of Hobart and William Smith Colleges presents its annual Faculty Dance Concert April 22-24, in the Winn-Seeley Gym Theater. Four dance faculty members, including guest artist Christopher Walker, will present eight pieces performed by Hobart and William Smith Colleges students and faculty.
Assistant Professor of Dance Michelle Iklé’s piece After Dark opens the program. A traditional jazz dance, choreographed in response to the jazz classic “One for Daddy-O,” features 11 William Smith students in a celebration of the historical developments of jazz dance.
Reflections showcases the powerful performing presence of Visiting Dance Professor Walker. The choreography for Walker was created by Cuban dancer and choreographer Arsenio Andrade-Calderon, a principal dancer with the National Dance Theater Company of Jamaica (NDTC).
While teaching at the Colleges this semester, Walker has choreographed two pieces for students. Rhythm Melodies, Stories and Memories features Professor of Dance Donna Davenport, Iklé, Assistant Professor of Dance Cadence Whittier and four William Smith students in a piece inspired by the use of the drum in Walker’s native Jamaican culture. As he notes, quoting composer Ras Happa, “the sound of the drum resonates the water in your abdominal center, which therefore stimulates you—that no food or medicine can do.” In Walker’s piece, the dancers’ movements and the sounds of the drum tell stories of love, support, oppression and rebellion.
Roundabout, a contemporary piece choreographed by Whittier, includes nine William Smith dancers and 10 colorful physioballs. Originally commissioned and performed by the Kansas Regional Ballet, Roundabout captures the spirit of lively play in the Penguin Café Orchestra’s music with energetic ball-inspired movement and light-hearted performance.
The second half of the concert opens with The Sound of Colour, a zany modern dance by Davenport. Performed by six Colleges seniors, Anna Burns, Caterina Caiazza, Emily Lutin, Megan Moffit, Lisa Nelson, and Joshua Warr, the piece is based on a compositional style of artist Wassily Kandinsky, seen in paintings such as Blue Circle (1922) and On White II (1923).
Whittier returns in Off, a solo she choreographed for this year’s dance concert. Off is frequently off balance, off center, and off pointe, and showcases the grace, athleticism and versatility of Whittier as a dancer.
Gibson Girls, set in the time period of around 1915, is a new ballet choreographed by Whittier that presents a fusion of early 20th century artists such as Charles Gibson, Howard Chandler Christy, and Harrison Fisher with contemporary style ballet, period style furniture, and a richly evocative musical score.
The Faculty Dance Concert closes with Walker’s Hill n’ Gully, a dance based on traditional Jamaican dance vocabulary to traditional Jamaican music arranged by Walker, performed by an ensemble of drummers and singers. Hill n’ Gully features a large cast of student dancers and a solo by Walker, and is a pulse-pounding introduction to the beauty and essence of Jamaican dance.
The Faculty Dance Concert will be performed at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 22 and 23, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 24, in the Winn-Seeley Gym Theater on the Colleges campus. The performances are open to the public; audience members of all ages are encouraged to attend. Tickets for the concert are $3 for students and seniors; $5 for Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ faculty and staff; and $7 general adult admission. Tickets are available at the door beginning one hour before curtain. There is no advance seating. For further information, please contact the Dance Department at (315) 781-3495.
A high resolution photo is available at http://campus.hws.edu/new/releases/hiRes/walker_christopher_hres.jpg.