USC Dance Company honors dance legends with Architects of Dance
The highlight of the concert will be Tony Awardwinning choreographer Twyla Tharp’s Eight Jelly Rolls. Cited as her first piece to be directly inspired by its music, Tharp pays homage to the suave jazz compositions of Jelly Roll Morton, as well as many early American social dances. The evening’s repertoire also includes George Balanchine’s early romantic work Valse Fantasie, excerpts from Marius Petipa’s grand ballet Paquita and USC Dance Artistic Director Susan Anderson’s Gams Jam. Show times are 7:30 p. m. each e v ening . Tickets are $16 for the general public, $ 14 for University facult y / s taf f , military and seniors 60+ and $ 10 for students.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 777-5112; charge by phone
Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Carolina Coliseum box office. The Koger Center for the Arts is located at 1051 Greene Street.
Unlike many pieces performed by the USC Dance Company, the choreography of Eight Jelly
Rolls rarely feat ures dancers in unison. Rehearsal director Kiyomi Mercadante Marple explains, “The beauty of this entire work is that it requires that each dancer define for themselves the choreography of the piece from beginning to end. It is my job to go through it all bit by bit and ensure that everyone is moving authentically according to their bodies, their rhythms and their steps.”
Tharp’s innovative approach provides the dancers with a specific
movement vocabulary, but requires them to rearrange the order, timing, or direction of the phrases. Senior dance major, Caitlin McCormack, one of three soloists in the piece, comments that the
f reeform nature of Tharp’s choreography isn’t as easy as it looks.
“Not only are you trying to execute the difficult movement precisely, but your mind is racing a million miles a minute paying attention to what the other dancers are doing and reacting to that.”
“I am thrilled that the Tharp Foundation awarded us the opportunity to perform this piece, and I am confident that each of the dancers involved has gained an awareness that they have never experienced before,” says Mercadante Marple. “These 14 dancers are now responsible for maintaining the integrity of Eight Jelly Rolls and that is no small task.”
Balanchine’s Valse Fantasie and Petipa’s Paquita provide a marked contrast to Tharp’s more open approach.
Valse Fantasie rehearsal director Stacey Calvert says the lush, classically based piece “is important for students because it teaches them musicality, fast foot work, and athleticism, all of which are characteristics of Balanchine choreography.” Utilizing the framework of a standard waltz, the piece juxtaposes graceful upper body movements with quick jumps to create a mood which is at once lively and romantic. Valse Fantasie was one of the earliest works of George Balanchine, who is widely considered to be the father of American ballet.
Paquita was the first work ever staged in Russia by famed choreographer Marius Petipa and tells the tale of a girl, rescued by gypsies from a massacre, who is reunited with her family. The classical piece is a standard in Petipa’s legendary canon, which includes the masterpieces Giselle and La Bayadére.
Susan Anderson’s spirited ballet Gams Jam, which she premiered at the university in 1982, takes its inspiration from the music of George Gershwin. The work’s second movement (of four) has been recently reworked by new faculty member Kerri Lambert. “When I see how wonderful the choreography has progressed on such brilliant and technically proficient dancers, I realize how far we have come as a dance program,” Anderson says.
For more information on Architects of Dance or the USC Dance program, contact Kevin Bush at 777-9353 or bushk@mailbox. sc.edu.