HATTIESBURG, Miss. – The University of Southern Mississippi Repertory Dance Company will present an energetic and versatile mix of dance styles at the Fall Dance Concert Nov. 5-7 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center (MPAC).
Audiences will experience a night of thrilling performances by talented Southern Miss student and faculty artists. “This concert is one of the many ways that dance thrives at Southern Miss,” said Stacy Reischman, director of the dance program.
A pre-concert discussion will take place Sunday, Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. in the MPAC, where choreographers will sit on the edge of the stage and talk about the ideas in their dances answer questions related to their piece.
The concert will open with senior dance major Jennifer Johnson’s piece, “Thumhare Liya (For You),” which features six dancers. Johnson, a Meridian native, describes her piece as a fusion of a classical Indian dance called Bharatanatyam and modern dance movement.
“It was really hard to piece together two dance styles without taking away from either. For me, it developed a way to delve into my personal background and history, which is a real departure from my training.” In the summer of 2007, Johnson attended The Ailey School in New York City where she took West African classes under the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre Company.
A self-choreographed solo titled “If Black Were Skyblue” will be presented by assistant professor of dance Kelly Ferris Lester in honor of her mother-in-law’s life and influence.
Senior dance major Kellis McSparrin brings the emotional and cosmic struggle of a woman to the stage in “Spirits of Catharsis.” Laura Moorhouse, a senior dance major from South Africa, plays the distressed woman. Five dancers are featured in this performance, four of which are supernatural beings, which help Moorhouse through her struggle.
“I want there to be a transformation in what the audience sees,” said McSparrin, a native of Clinton. “Hopefully, they’ll feel a sense of hope and peace by the end.”
Works by Johnson and McSparrin were the only students selected through a rigorous adjudication process to be included in the fall concert.
Assistant professor of dance Meredith Early is the newest addition to the dance faculty. Early graduated from Southern Miss in 2003 and returned to teach in August 2009. Her duet titled “Clay Coeur” examines the complex dynamics of an intimate relationship between a man and woman. Structured in its classic form, Early’s duet will feature two student dancers, Johnson and Josh Frazier, a senior dance major from Pulaski, Miss.
“This performance presents an inherent sense of timing and musicality. I view the performers as possessing the strength and ability to support one another. It’s not just the man supporting the woman,” said Early. “Clay Coeur” was chosen to represent Southern Miss at the regional American College Dance Festival in spring 2010.
Reischman will present her latest creation “Starbirthing,” which is a duet about a woman transforming into a star. With scenic elements and costume changes, the audience will visualize cosmic forces, planets and universes.
“It should take the viewer on a journey as they watch someone struggle with growth and transformation,” said Reischman. This installment is part of a series that will be produced in August 2010 as part of the university’s centennial celebration.
Associate professor of dance Shellie Nielsen’s latest work “The Gathering” will present six characters inspired by Arthur Rackham, England’s most celebrated children’s book artist. In this piece, the sextet will share a world where fairies live and interact on stage.
The concert will close with a whirlwind display of energy and quirky movement in “Turvy-Topsy” by Lester. This large group piece is filled with spontaneous and lively interactions by the performers.
Tickets for the concert are available at http://www.southernmisstickets.com or 601.266.5418. For more information on the Fall Dance Concert and the Repertory Dance Company, visit www.usm.edu/theatre.
The Southern Miss Repertory Dance Company was established to provide performing opportunities for dance majors and to promote excellence in dance performance among students. As company members, they gain high insight into the protocol and standards of professional dance as they prepare for careers in performance and choreography. The Southern Miss Repertory Dance Company performs in all major dance events within the Department of Theatre and Dance, and is available for performance –based community outreach.
PHOTO: The Fall Dance Concert will showcase the new works of the Southern Miss Repertory Dance Company Nov. 5-8 in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center. (Photo by Danny Rawls)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu. -30-