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Four Degrees of VCU Dance

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"She's always had a very strong connection to VCU," says dance department chair Martha Curtis. "I think her vision of dance in education is very kindred to mine and to that of VCU. … She looks at it from the standpoint of creativity and humanity … allowing students to find their own voice."

The brief ceremony honoring Myers will kick off a weekend of performances of a program called "Traffic@The Grace: Dancing in the Now."

The hook of the show — a "happy accident," Curtis says — lies in the connection of four generations of dancers and choreographers honoring the importance of artistic mentorship. It's something that is perhaps doubly significant in a discipline where a dedication to lifelong learning is a must. Even world-renowned ballerinas plant themselves in technique class at least a few times a week.

For the show at the Grace, David Parsons' protégé Robert Battle will offer "The Virginia Reel," an exploration of Richmond's African-American culture created for VCU Dance during Battle's residency last fall. Battle's former teacher Gerri Houlihan, who was a soloist with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, has created a new work to be premiered at this performance as a part of her residency at VCU. (This work is so recent that as of press time it didn't even have a name.) Houlihan, in turn, is the former student of the aforementioned Martha Myers.

Completing the four-generation cycle, a number of current VCU students have been selected to present work in the show. Among them are Laura Grace McMillan and Victoria Metz, both of whom looked to literary sources for inspiration: McMillan from the written words of great American poet Walt Whitman and Metz from the spoken word of beat icon Allen Ginsberg.

Assistant professor Scott Putman's "Angle of Incidence," created in San José, Costa Rica, during VCU Dance's first international studies program last summer, will add a touch of tech-savvy and science to the mix with its emphasis on lighting design. And assistant professor James Frazier's "Suspect Seven" will bring power with an energy-charged all-male cast and a driving score to match.



Performances are March 2-4 at 8 p.m. at Grace Street Theater. Tickets are $15; $5 for students. Call 828-2020.

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