Students in the Perry-Mansfield high school and college program rehearse for "An Evening of Dance," which starts at 8 p.m. today and Saturday in the camp's Main Studio.
- Friday, July 25, 2008, 8 p.m.
- Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Center, 40755 County Road 36, Steamboat Springs
Five weeks ago, none of the students in the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp high school and college program could fly.
Technically, that is still true. But five weeks of class in aerial dance and rehearsals six nights a week have pushed the limits of what these students can do. In "An Evening of Dance," they'll climb and float on hanging cloth slings for a piece they helped choreograph under the direction of Perry-Mansfield dance faculty member Janet Taisey Craft.
"When these students arrived, as far as I know they really had not had any work in aerial dance, and they have gained such an incredible range of flexibility to move in the air, safely," Craft said. "They actually participate in the creation of the work, which I think is really exciting, for these young pre-professionals to do that."
One of the camp's most popular performances, "An Evening of Dance" features eight pieces, most of them originally choreographed by Perry-Mansfield faculty members. Shows are at 8 p.m. today and Saturday in the camp's Main Studio.
An intense program of study geared toward young dancers who are at the top of their game, the six-week Perry-Mansfield dance camp requires an audition to attend and includes classes on technique, as well as intense rehearsal periods.
"We give the students an opportunity to be choreographed on and be part of the creative process," said Linda Kent, who is in her eighth summer directing the Perry-Mansfield dance department, and spent more than two decades as a principle dancer in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Paul Taylor Dance Company.
The Perry-Mansfield dance faculty features teachers at the top of their disciplines, which span genres including modern dance, jazz, ballet and ballroom. Students study technique in ballet and modern, and supplement that with classes in jazz, dance composition, pointe, tap and partnering.
"This is a training program, so some of the younger dancers hadn't had as much partnering experience or even as much experience on pointe," Kent said. To give students more comfort with partnering, Kent started a class in the technique this summer. Many dance presentation pieces, and many choreographers in general, require partnering, but in past summers learning the technique has been confined to rehearsals.
"It just makes such a difference," Kent said of giving more instruction in partnering. "Some people are afraid of that and it's hard to put them in that situation. And it's sort of trial by fire, which isn't fair."
Other programmed pieces include a movement piece based on the second line of a New Orleans funeral, a piece based on a running race that is performed in socks (rather than bare feet), a piece based on Ukrainian folk tradition and a work expressing suppressed feelings, set to a Radiohead song.