Dancers Bryony McCullough and Christopher LaFleche perform “Slow Falling,” a dance choreographed by Rick McCullough that will premiere at this weekend’s Evening of Dance.

Photo by John F. Russell

Dancers Bryony McCullough and Christopher LaFleche perform “Slow Falling,” a dance choreographed by Rick McCullough that will premiere at this weekend’s Evening of Dance.

Evening of Dance to offer 7 premieres in Steamboat

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Perry-Mansfield's evening of dance

Students rehearse for the July 21, 2011, premier of their evening of dance.

Students rehearse for the July 21, 2011, premier of their evening of dance.

If you go

What: Evening of Dance

When: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

Where: Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, 40755 Routt County Road 36

Cost: Tickets are $20

Call: 970-879-7125

— Thursday night at Perry-Mansfield’s main studio, seven freshly choreographed dances will see their world premieres in front of a Steamboat audience.

Linda Kent, director of dance at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, said the annual showcase, Evening of Dance, usually offers a few world premiere pieces mixed in with traditional repertory pieces.

“This year, we went hog-wild,” Kent said. “Everyone’s making a new piece.”

The annual dance performance opens at 8 p.m. Thursday at Perry-Mansfield, with additional performances Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets are $20.

The show is about 65 minutes of dancing with a brief intermission.

The eight pieces run the gambit of emotion through physical artistry, from the uplifting and joyful to the dark and heart wrenching.

The show opens on a note of intensity, with a contemporary pointe piece called “Slow Falling,” by Rick McCullough.

Kent said the “edgy” piece touches on emotions like ignorance and repression.

The tone resolves itself into the second piece, a modern dance called “Aperture,” about holding onto the past through photographs.

Choreographer Jennifer Golonka, in her ninth year with Perry-Mansfield, said she was inspired by a friend who could not let go of her photo albums when trying to detach from her past.

“I would say it’s deep but not dark,” she said about the piece, which illustrates the nostalgic emotions with an abstract allusion to flipping through a photo album.

From there, the audience will be treated to the world premiere of “Fix Up, Look Sharp,” the fulfillment of New York choreographer Kyle Abraham’s 2010 Princess Grace Award. A quartet of Perry-Mansfield dancers first performed excerpts from this contemporary hip-hop dance during June’s New Works Festival, in which the student dancers were layered over Abraham’s company dancers. Thursday, the Perry-Mansfield students shine in the spotlight on their own.

The one repertory piece closes out the first half of the performance with a rarely performed Paul Taylor dance first done in the 1970s called “Runes.”

The second half includes an aerial dance choreographed by Janet Taisey Craft, in which a series of solos, duets and trios perform high on a canvas sling hung from the rafters.

The score is to a medley of Beatles songs, and Craft said she aimed to capture the social and political unrest and freedom of the 1960s.

Ballet legend Ernesta Corvina also has created a new piece for the performance, a Celtic ballet that follows a nomadic tribe through its trials and celebrations.

Kent said the faculty members relish the opportunity to try out their new pieces with the young pre-professional students as their eager test subjects.

“I choose people that come not only to choreograph, but to teach and share their passion with the dancers,” Kent said.

And as for the dancers, working on world premiere performances is an important learning experience as they grow and develop in the dance world.

“They need the challenge of being created on,” Kent said. “They learn what’s important to bring to that process. You don’t want to just be a lump of clay.”

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com

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