Celebrate 'Americana' with Dance Works 2011 April 6-10 at Alexander Kasser Theater

Photos by Mike Peters

Dance Works 2011

Montclair State University’s Repertory Dance Company will present Dance Works 2011 from April 6-10 in the Alexander Kasser Theater on the University’s campus.

The repertoire for this concert explores the theme of “Americana,” anchored by Paul Taylor’s Company B, recalling the turbulent World War II era through the 1941 Andrews Sisters’ hit song.

Also featured will be works by modern dance pioneers Sophie Maslow and Charles Weidman. Maslow’s Folksay (1942), based upon Carl Sandburg’s poem The People, Yes, blends dance with songs and dialogue. Weidman’s haunting Lynchtown (1936) refers to the lynchings that had been on a steady rise in the early 20th-century United States, exploring the sometimes deadly ramifications of mob hysteria and its effects on a community.  

Accompanied by a reading of a portion of Emily Post’s Etiquette (1922), Never Sign A Letter Mrs. (1939) is a mild satire of the antiquated social restrictions placed on women in the early 1900s. Also featured will be Donald McKayle’s Rainbow Etude (1996), a four-minute distillation of his larger work Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder (1959). This piece is set on a chain gang where prisoners break rocks in the hot sun. Choreographer Nancy Lushington has created a beautiful ballet, Souvenir (2010), inspired by the paintings of John Singer Sargent and set to the music of Samuel Barber, and explores the repression of American women at the beginning of the 20th century.  Choreographer Maxine Steinman’s By The Sea explores the landmark amusement park Coney Island during the 1930s and ’40s. Stompin’ (2010), choreographed by Jay T. Jenkins, uses the music and dance of the Harlem Renaissance to create the feel of a night in The Savoy Ballroom.  

Performances are as follows:
•    April 6 • 7:30 p.m.
•    April 7 • 7:30 p.m.
•    April 8 • 7:30 p.m.
•    April 9 • 8 p.m.
•    April 10 • 2 p.m.

Immediately following the performance on the evening of April 9, there will be a talkback, “The History of the Repertory," conducted by Prof. Neil Baldwin, of the Theatre and Dance department, in conversation with Beth McPherson, Jay T. Jenkins, Nancy Lushington, and Maxine Steinman, all faculty members in the Theatre and Dance department, and Linda Kent, a guest artist who restaged Company B.

For more information, contact the Montclair State University Box Office at (973) 655-5112 or visit Peak Performances.

This presentation of "Company B" has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius.