Concert ‘on same playing field as Juliard’


Karissa Bursch

This week the department of theatre and dance presents the annual Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre Spring Concert. The performances will take place in Morgan Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5:30 p.m. on Friday with a matinee performance on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Tickets may be purchased beforehand at the box office in Rowand-Johnson Hall, by visiting or by calling 348-3400, or they may be purchased the night of the show. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for faculty, staff and seniors and $12 for students.

ARDT will present an eclectic variety of dance styles inspired by the “music, spirit and rhythms of ethnic, pop and traditional American fare,” according to the ARDT news release.

The first half of the performance will be dedicated to a restaging of José Limón’s “There is a Time,” sponsored by a grant the dance department received.

Assistant Professor of Dance Sarah Barry, who served as project director for the piece, was awarded the National Endowment of the Arts grant for the amount of $15,000.

“We were only one of two that received the grant,” said Rita Snyder, rehearsal director of the piece.

Snyder said the grant was awarded based on a video sent in of the students performing, the type of classes and training offered at the University, the range of dancers and number of males available to perform.

“I think it’s been fabulous for the students,” Snyder said. “It’s a rare opportunity. Not many professional companies perform this work. It’s an important work of classical repertory for modern dance and it has a lot of historical relevance, so it’s great that students can perform something that is historically important.”

Alex Murphy, a senior majoring in dance, is performing in “There is a Time” and in pieces in the second half.

“José Limón is one of the modern dance pioneers,” Murphy said. “[The piece] is based on a passage from Ecclesiastes and there is a movement for every line and we’re performing the entire work. It’s really an honor.”

According to the news release, Limón is considered “one of the finest 20th century choreographers.”

An award-winning performer, teacher and choreographer and former member of the José Limón Dance Company, Clay Taliaferro served as the “reconstructor” of the piece and offered technique classes and lectures.

Murphy said the dancers have put in almost 100 hours of work.

“It’s extremely hard,” Murphy said. “It’s an older, more modern technique that none of us were that familiar with. It’s very stylized. Clay Taliaferro was in the company with Limón and staged it; he was very strict on us.”

The second half of the performance will bring a variety of smaller pieces that include gospel, modern, jazz, contemporary ballet and other styles.

Molly Ann Terwilliger, a junior majoring in dance, will be performing in two pieces in the second half.

“The first act is one thing and the second act is a hodge-podge,” Terwilliger said. “A lot of students don’t really realize how exciting our dance shows really are and how diverse they are. Students know there are dance majors on our campus but they don’t know what we really do.”

Qianping Guo, an assistant professor for the school of dance, choreographed “Mist Memory,” a contemporary ballet and one of the dances that Terwilliger will perform in.

“An old Chinese poem was my inspiration,” Guo said. “The dance represents ruin, the moments after ruin and memory. It’s very emotional. Come to watch the whole piece, there is fluidity and beauty.”

Guo said the students are talented and have done very well.

“They just need to use motivation and discipline to do well and make them strong,” Guo said. “It’s all about learning your ability.”

Cornelius Carter, the artistic director of the Alabama Repertory and the director of dance, said this performance is one of the most unique performances the School of Dance has put on.

“This concert has been very different because of the commissioned work from the Limón Company,” Carter said. “This show puts us on the same playing field as schools like Julliard and NYU.”

The Limón piece was first performed by Julliard and is only performed once or twice a year, Carter said.

Carter said he feels that the students who perform in this concert are very talented and professional.

“I started this company 13 years ago to train students to go into the professional world,” Carter said. “This company has evolved into that. They really are that professional level and the students themselves are performing at a higher level.”

There will also be a survey and raffle at the ARDT Spring Concert, said Bill Ronchak, a graduate student studying theatre management and the marketing manager for the show.

The survey will focus around the Limón piece and the surveys turned in will be eligible for a raffle for two free tickets to a dance show next season. There will be one winner who will be notified sometime in April.

“The Limón piece is monumental so we want to get an audience reaction,” Ronchak said.

Murphy recommended that students go because of the importance of the Limón piece and the diversity of the concert as a whole.

“For me, I would go just because it’s such a big deal our dance department was even selected,” Murphy said. “To see it in person is an amazing opportunity.”

Carter recommended that everybody attends because of the high level of quality of the concert and the dancers.

“I demand absolutely the best and nothing less,” Carter said. “There’s only one standard, and that’s excellence.”