The Michigan Daily
Wednesday, March 14, 1990
Dancers teach modern
by Joy Das Gupta
SINCE Monday, the American Contemporary
Dance Festival has been entertaining and educat-
ing Ann Arbor, featuring five days of master
classes and dance forums and five nights of en-
Five artists are delivering their signature
choreography to Ann Arbor, offering a sample of
the best variety in contemporary modern dance.
These artists have traveled the globe, acquiring
international acclaim at each destination. So put
down this week's TV guide and get set for some
Monday night Dana Reitz brought her unique
artistry to the stage. A graduate of the Univer-
sity's dance program, Reitz performed
"Circumstantial Evidence," a duet between Reitz
and the subtle lighting of Jennifer Tipton. No
sets, no music, just the "rhythms inherent in the
body and mind," says Reitz. San Francisco-based
dancer Leslie Friedman performed Tuesday night,
offering more traditional entertainment. She uses
music ranging from classical to jazz to live mu-
sic performed by School of Music students.
Tonight, Robert Small and Peter Sparling
will use a lecture/demonstration format for their
double bill. Sparling, chair of the University De-
partment of Dance and co-organizer of the Festi-
val, says, "We are both intense performers, but
we use a different style and have different back-
grounds." Small, schooled in the tradition of Al-
win Nikolai and Murray Lewis, uses his body as
a full orchestra, carefully articulating each
movement. His choreography carves space into
sculpture; at times the movement is humorous,
while at others it takes on spiritual and ethereal
Sparling, a former dancer with the Martha
Graham Dance Company, will present "A Fearful
Symmetry," a historical depiction of Vincent
Van Gogh. The piece is accompanied by a live
viola sonata and a text read by Department of
Theatre and Drama professor Phillip Kerr. In
"Lulliloo," Sparling moves to the tango score of
Astor Piazzolla, embarking on a journey of
highly stylized and sensual movement.
Bebe Miller and Company, based in New
York City, has the distinction of being the only
ensemble to perform at the Festival. Tomorrow
night, Miller's choreography will examine the
core issues in human relationships. Her art
weaves the neo-expressionistic with the new
wave to compose a sizzling drama.
Finally, on Friday night, all the artists come
together to present a colorful menu of modern
dance, offering a chance to sample the fare of Re-
itz, Friedman, Sparling, Small, and Bebe Miller
and Company all at once.
The Festival's days are filled with technique
classes and choreography workshops taught by
the guest artists and dance department faculty.
While geared toward dance majors, the classes are
open to other interested dance students of inter-
mediate or advanced skill. Each afternoon will
end with a forum exploring a special issue in
dance: today, "Dance and Video"; tomorrow,
"Music for Dance"; and Friday, "Dance Writers'
Forum." Prior to Friday night's performance,
Debra Cash, dance critic for The Boston Globe,
will give a free pre-concert presentation titled
"American Dance: A Critic's Perspective" at 7
p.m. in Rackham.
This is the first and only wave of internation-
ally acclaimed modern dance to hit Ann Arbor
this school year. Sparling says, "It is an adven-
ture in packaging dance." He hopes that students,
faculty and community will support this concen-
trated dose of modern dance. Unlike ballet, with
its rich history of classic works, modern dance
doesn't have a fixed repertory. This festival offers
a chance to explore the unexpected contours of
five of the most spirited and accomplished chore-
ographers in modern dance today.
THE AMERICAN CONTEMPORARY DANCE-
FESTIVAL runs through Friday. Classes, work-
shops, and forums are all held in the Dance
Building, next to the CCRB; technique classes
and choreography workshops are $10 and begin
daily at 12:45 p.m.; forums are $5 and begin
daily at 4:15 p.m. Student rush tickets for each
performance will be available for $5, on sale in
the Burton Memorial Bell Tower from 10 a.m. to
6 p.m. only on the day of the performance. Per-'
formances begin at 8p.m. in the Power Center.
See news happen?
Bebe Miller, of Bebe Miller and Company, is one of many performers at
the Ann Arbor Contemporary Dance Festival, a celebration of modern
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