ARDT pushes bounds of dance


Alabama Repertory Dance Theaters Fall Concert./CW| Sara Beth Colburn

Ashley Chaffin

Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre will dance its way back into Morgan Auditorium for its fall performance next Tuesday.

Performances will be held Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and on Friday at 5:30 p.m., and will showcase choreography from the department of theatre and dance staff, as well as the talents of ARDT members. Tickets are $12 for students, $15 for seniors, faculty and staff and $18 for adults.

Last year’s ARDT spring concert featured its first full-length production, “Cinderella,” but this concert is going back to ARDT’s original style of short performances, each by different choreographers.

“Repertoire is why I started the program,” said Cornelius Carter, director of UA’s dance department and founder of ARDT. “I wanted a dancer to be able to go from ballet shoes to bare foot in zero seconds, and to train the dancers in a way that once they leave they should be able to do any kind of company they desire.”

Next week’s concert has performances that pull inspiration from all different styles of dance including classical ballet, jazz, Broadway and many others.

Carter said he pulled his inspiration from the freedom of modern dance and the theatrical aspects of jazz and ballet to create his piece, “After the Rain,” which focuses on the complexities of relationships.

“[It’s about] how in everyday life we deal with this wonderful journey of love, loss, moving on and finding ourselves,” he said. “It shows the beauty and sometimes the moments that are not so beautiful but yet in the midst of it you pick yourself back up and you go on.”

Sarah M. Barry, assistant professor of dance at the University, decided to push the boundaries of the space on the stage with her piece titled “there, again.” She created a set for the dancers to perform in that has four separate boxes, all 6-by-6 feet on the floor and 7 feet tall. The four boxes are stacked in two levels, with two on the top level and two on the bottom.

“It gives it a kind of sense of place,” she said. “You’ll see the dancers sort of individually dealing with the space they are in; that is what the dance becomes about.”

The different sets, styles and themes in the separate pieces of the entire performance show what ARDT is all about. Carter wanted to work with dancers who could perform in all different styles and settings. He started this program when he saw a need to create a pre-professional program that would prepare students for any professional dance career.

He said the success of the alumni in professional settings has been phenomenal and that was the point of the program in the first place. One alumnus from the first class of ARDT, Christopher Dean, said that the program has progressed “leaps and bounds” since it began 10 years ago.

“It was the year before Morgan, it was bare bones,” he said. “Literally it was just teachers and students and we were just generating quality dancers.”

The one thing about ARDT that has remained consistent is the ability to create quality dancers through the program. Next week’s concert will feature dancers who all dance in several pieces throughout the entire performance; one dancer is in three separate and sequential pieces.

Dean said that all of these dancers are working on a professional level, balancing rehearsals for all the different pieces as well as their difficult class schedules. He is most excited about the level of sophistication in the upcoming performances and could not compliment the work of the choreographers enough during rehearsals.

“I’m excited about how somehow we dig into the bottom of ourselves and continue to push and challenge students in a way that every semester the work becomes more complex,” Carter said.