Springfield College Dance Concert, William Simpson Fine Arts SeriesNovember 19, 2009
As part of the celebration of the College’s 125th anniversary, thirty Springfield College dance students and two dance faculty members will present three performances of MOVIMENTO, a dance concert, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20-21, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 22, at 2 p.m., in Appleton Auditorium at the Fuller Arts Center.
Cynthia Nazzaro, professor and director of dance in the Visual and Performing Arts Department, is the artistic director for the program. About the concert, Nazzaro states that “the performance promises to be one of the most interesting and artistic presentations in my twenty years of teaching, choreographing, and directing dance concerts at the College.”
All performances are dedicated to the survivors of a devastating earthquake that took place in the Abruzzi region of Italy in May 2009, for their efforts to create new homes and communities in a remote, mountainous and beautiful region of central Italy.
The concert series, aptly entitled MOVIMENTO(which is the Italian word meaning "movement"), is inspired by a variety of Italian dance forms, music styles, and cultural expressions, partly as a result of a study abroad program with Nazzaro in Perugia, Italy last summer, attended by four Springfield College students. Sources of inspiration include the expressive everyday language of Italian people, the sense of community one experiences there, and the presence of Italian history seen everywhere in art and architecture. One piece, choreographed by student Jennifer Ferrigno, references the ruins of Pompeii in a look to Italian history as it relates to the contemporary fascination for apocalyptic predictions for the year 2012.
Audiences can expect to see a wide range of dance styles from the refined movement of baroque dancing set to the music of Antonio Vivaldi, in a piece choreographed by ballet faculty member, Wendy Holmes, who has performed as a professional dancer in this style. The ten student dancers who perform her piece are challenged to be technically very strong, yet fluid and sculptural in their movement. Nazzaro investigated the stately walking Renaissance dance, known as the pavane, and has given it a modern twist with movements such as Michael Jackson's moon walk. In two other dances, Nazzaro challenges her dancers to perform energetic, rhythmic movements in two robust folk inspired modern dances, including a fast Tarantella performed by ten dancers, which will close the entire program.
One very special feature of the program is a rare solo dance, Gnoissienne, which was choreographed and first performed in 1917 by Ted Shawn, former dance faculty member at Springfield College and founder of Jacob’s Pillow, who is well known by the Springfield College community. Last year, student dancers reconstructed his Labor Symphony in four parts and had the pleasure of performing it many times, including at Springfield College, U-Mass Amherst, and at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Shawn is also a historic figure in dance because he was the first artist to create an all-male American dance company. He created his company using some of the student-athletes that he taught at Springfield College, who then toured with him for seven years. Shawn received a master’s degree from Springfield College in 1936 in recognition of his achievements in dance. This intriguing “early modern dance” solo dance, Gnoissienne, has delighted our audiences in the past (when it was performed in several concerts) with the unusual Grecian tableau-inspired movement which is set to the mysterious and elegant music of Erik Satie. Megan Davis, a sophomore dance major, has reconstructed the dance with the help of the dance faculty and will perform in all three concerts.
Another significant piece on the program is the Limon Etude, which has been carefully reconstructed by eleven dancers and rehearsed rigorously for the past three months. The dancers initially learned the reconstructed dance over an intensive three-day weekend of dancing in September with Kristen Foote, a member of the Jose Limon Dance Company, who worked with us last year. The dancers’ performance abilities, technical achievement, and expressive qualities have exploded through this work. Last year, a smaller cast performed the same piece and it was an audience favorite. According to Nazzaro, it has been extremely rewarding to revisit and expand the work for a larger cast. She says that the solution to adding so many additional dancers is to create a back-to-back set of performances, which increases the dynamic effect.
This dance performance series is part of the William Simpson Fine Arts Series and is funded by the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and the Student Government Association.
Ticket prices for the concert are $5 for general admission, $4 for Springfield College students (with student identification cards), and $3 for children under 12 and seniors over 65. Advanced tickets may be purchased in Cheney Dining Hall, November 16-20, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased at the door. For further information, please call (413) 748-3158.