University Dance Festival at McCarter’s Berlind Theater
THE DANCE FESTIVAL IS BACK: Choreographer Omari Wiles (center foreground) with students from Princeton University rehearsing for his new work which will be presented at the Princeton Dance Festival 2021. (Photo by Jonathan Sweeney)
Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance presents the Princeton Dance Festival 2021 November 19-21 at McCarter Theater Center’s Berlind Theater.
Princeton students in the program will perform new works by faculty member Tina Fehlandt, whose work is inspired by the choreography of Mark Morris on the 40th anniversary of the founding of his famous dance company, and Rebecca Lazier. . In addition, students will perform new works by guest choreographers Kyle Marshall, Larissa Velez-Jackson and Omari Wiles. Works in the festival’s repertoire will include those of Justin Peck Rodeo: four dance episodes, directed by Michael Breeden; and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Germaine Acogny’s Women’s resistance, directed by Samantha Speis.
Performances will take place over three days, starting November 19 at 8 p.m. ET. They will continue with two other performances on November 20 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and will end with a final performance on November 21 at 2 p.m. Currently under the direction of choreographer Susan Marshall, Princeton’s Program in Dance is now in its 51st year and has grown to include five full-time teachers and nine adjunct teachers and offers 23 different courses and a program that includes dance classes. introduction, courses adapted to pre-professional level dancers, as well as courses in dance studies and interdisciplinary contemporary practices.
Rodeo: four dance episodes by Justin Peck, acting resident choreographer of the New York City Ballet, will be directed by Michael Sean Breeden, a ballet coach, in a way that reinvents the play’s gender roles. Rodeo is Peck’s abstract interpretation of Aaron Copland’s famous Americana score and pairs a single woman with “a cast of 15 cheerful, energetic and charming male dancers for a fresh and exciting adventure”. When it premiered at Princeton, excerpts from the ballet were reimagined, with gender identity no longer a prerequisite for any of the roles. Peck has created over 40 ballets, won a Tony Award for choreography for the Broadway revival in 2018 Carousel, and choreographed Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film, West Side Story. Breeden has danced with the Miami City Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet, where he has performed lead roles in works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor, Christopher Wheeldon, and Alexei Ratmansky. He has taught at Yale University, Kent State University, Ballet Tech, Ballet Academy East, Vail Dance Festival, and Mark Morris Dance Center, among others.
Samantha Speis is Co-Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women (UBW) and the 2017 recipient of a New York Dance and Performance Award “Bessie” for Best Performer. UBW is a critically acclaimed contemporary dance-theater company that seeks to bring to light untold and understated stories through dance. As members of the African diaspora community, UBW strives to create a more equitable balance of power in the world of dance and beyond. Speis will stage Women’s resistance, an extract of the scallies of memory, originally choreographed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder of UBW, and Germaine Acogny of Compagnie Jant Bi (Senegal). Women’s resistance Vibrantly embodies the power, resilience and relentless pursuit of Women + for liberation and justice.
The Dance Festival presents five new works: Hyphenation is a collaborative work created by choreographer Rebecca Lazier and composer Ryan Wolfe, with contributions from the student cast. Onyx Studies is a new work created by choreographer Kyle Marshall as a review of white rock musicians studying, imitating and copying songs, styles and techniques direct from black musicians without their permission. Star Pû Method ~ Care, Freedom and Partnership is a new work created by choreographer Larissa Velez-Jackson from her research into the healing properties of her improvisation practice, the Star Pû method. A new work by Tina Fehlandt will lead Princeton dance students on an exploration of more than 40 years of dances performed by choreographer Mark Morris. A new work by choreographer Omari Wiles explores both male and female energy through dance and expression.
All guests are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, wear a mask indoors, and show proof of vaccination and photo ID at the door. (Princeton students, faculty and staff need only show their PU ID.) Dancers will be unmasked when they perform on stage. Tickets cost $ 12 before show dates, $ 17 purchased on the day of performances at the box office and $ 10 for students. Tickets are available online at mccarter.org/dance-festival.