It was a celebratory evening of dance and music on Friday night at the UO’s Gerlinger Hall.
In addition to five excellent modern dance pieces, special recognition was given to two Oregon artists.
First was Donna Blatt-Ervin, Director of Modern Dance Technique at her Corvallis studio, who has sent many well trained dance students to the UO.
The second special recipient was Bruno V. Madrid, pianist, composer and accompanist. He was a respected faculty member and musical director for the Dance Department from 1966 to 1992.
Faculty member Walter Kennedy’s WHORL, with original score by Christian Cherry, began the evening. Melissa Doherty and Michelle Friend performed this work with superb focus and skill. Michelle Friend’s deliberate and faultless execution of the spare movements made this a serious opener.
Next came a solo piano performance by Christian Cherry, an artist/educator who works in many modes. His jazzy interpretation of the Gershwin classic, “Our Love is Here to Stay” was definitely a crowd pleaser.
Western OR University Dance Instructor Cynthia Guitierrez-Garner choreographed “REplace” to a Remix of “Caravan” by Mathew Herbert. Cecilia Berghall, Linnea Birdwell, and Michelle Friend performed with professional polish.
Brad Garner’s TUBULAR BELLES to music by the Lullaby Ensemble was childishly hilarious. Melissa Doherty, Megan Duling and Cecily Wechter were encased in large tubular sacks that they held up to their chins while holding dolls dressed in similar pink and orange sacks. The creative choreography explored the many ways these dancer could jump, walk, dance, fall, etc in and out of their sacks. What a hoot!
Next came a 2003 recorded performance of Chopin’s “Fantaisie-Impromptu” by Bruno Madrid. It was accompanied by photos of Mr. Madrid. A very moving tribute to Mr. Madrid, who was in the audience.
After intermission UO Professor Jeffrey Stolet created and performed LIGHT. Imagine a man, an Apple Laptop, and two LED flashlights on stage. Using video analysis software, Professor Stolet “composed” by waving the flashlights to produce musical bell patterns.
ESCAPE by Assistant Professor of Dance Shannon Mockli followed. With music by Amon Tobin and the projected image of a jail window, Cecilia Berghall, Linnea Birdwell, Megan Duling, and Cecily Wechter swung and pulled and chased each other around the stage. “I’m breaking out of this place…” said a voice, but they could never climb over the wall. An intimidating abstract on prison.
UO Graduate Fellow Rachel Winchester created an original character, “Becky” that was aptly danced by Patsy Morris in “Nothing to do in this hick town” with music by Dead Man’s Bones. A well done study in manifested frustration and adolescent angst.
Company Co-Director Rita J. Honka created the closing work, ONCE AGAIN, with music by Mo’ Horizons. Blaring saxophones plus a bluesy beat drove Melissa Doherty to the heights of wanton joy! Cecilia Berghall, Linnea Birdwell, Megan Duling, Michelle Friend, and Cecily Wechter finally joined the scene, but were much more subdued. Melissa definitely had her mojo on — to the hoots and hollers of the excited audience. What fun!
The UO Dance Department is training excellent performers. Good work!