University of South Carolina

USCís 'Architects of Dance' showcase works of world-renowned choreographers

Contact: Frenche Brewer 803-777-5400

Works by three of the dance world’s best-known choreographers will have members of the audience swaying in their seats at the University of South Carolina Dance Company’s “Architects of Dance” concert 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 – 11.

The choreography of Tony Award-winner Twyla Tharp, contemporary ballet choreographer George Balanchine and Marius Petipa the prolific French choreographer and the father of classical ballet, will be featured at the event, set for the Koger Center for the Arts.

The highlight of the evening will be “Eight Jelly Rolls” by Tharp, whose dances are known for creativity, wit and technical precision coupled with a streetwise nonchalance. Tharp pays homage to the suave jazz compositions of Jelly Roll Morton, the popular ragtime and early jazz pianist and bandleader. American social dances, such as “The Charleston,” “Susie Q” and the “Black Bottom” also will be featured.

Rehearsal director Kiyomi Mercadante Marple said, “The beauty of this entire work is that it requires that each dancer define for himself the choreography of the piece from beginning to end. It is my job to go through it all bit-by-bit and ensure that everyone is moving authentically, according to his body, rhythms and steps.”

Senior dance major Caitlin McCormack, one of three soloists in the piece, said the free form nature of Tharp’s choreography isn’t as easy as it looks.

“Not only are you trying to execute the difficult movement precisely, but your mind is racing a million miles a minute paying attention to what the other dancers are doing and reacting to that.”

“I am thrilled that the Tharp Foundation awarded us the opportunity to perform this piece, and I am confident that each of the dancers involved has gained an awareness that he has never experienced before,” said Mercadante Marple.

Balanchine’s “Valse Fantasie” and Petipa’s “Paquita” provide a marked contrast to Tharp’s open approach.

Utilizing the framework of a standard waltz, “Valse Fantasie” contrasts graceful upper body movements with quick jumps to create a lively and romantic mood. The piece was one of the earliest works of George Balanchine, who was co-founder and ballet master of the New York City Ballet.

Rehearsal director Stacey Calvert said the lush, classically based piece “is important for students because it teaches them musicality, fast foot work and athleticism, all of which are characteristics of Balanchine choreography.” “Paquita” was the first work staged in Russia by famed choreographer Petipa and tells the tale of a girl who is rescued by gypsies from a massacre and is reunited with her family. The classical piece is a standard in Petipa’s legendary canon, which includes masterpieces such as “Giselle” and “La Bayadére.”

Rounding out the evening will be Dance Director Susan Anderson’s spirited ballet, “Gams Jam,” which she premiered at the university in 1982. The work takes its inspiration from George Gershwin’s music. Anderson recently reworked the second movement with faculty member Kerri Lambert. “When I see how wonderful the choreography has progressed on such brilliant and technically proficient dancers, I realize how far we have come as a dance program,” Anderson said.

Tickets are $16 for the general public, $14 for USC faculty and staff, military and seniors and $10 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the Carolina Coliseum box office or by calling 803-251-2222. Tickets can also be charged by phone at 803-777-5112.

For more information on Architects of Dance or the USC Dance program, contact Kevin Bush at 803- 777-9353 or

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Posted: 10/26/11 @ 5:00 PM | Updated: 10/28/11 @ 9:07 AM | Permalink