The University of South Carolina dance program will present a repertory of classic and premiere contemporary works during the UofSC Dance Company Fall Concert, November 4-5 at the Koger Center for the Arts.
Show time for the concert is 7:30pm nightly. Admission is $15 for students, $20 for UofSC faculty/staff, military, and seniors 60+, and $22 for the public. Tickets may be purchased online at kogercenterforthearts.com or by phone at 803-777-5112. The Koger Center is located at 1051 Greene St.
The evening will include excerpts from A Choreographic Offering by dance legend José Limón, plus three original works by UofSC dance faculty: Becoming Swans by Olivia Waldrop, a reimagining of the Swan Lake mythos; Haptic Variations by Tanya Wideman-Davis, a contemporary work exploring the human relationship to objects; and a still-untitled original piece by Thaddeus Davis.
Limón’s A Choreographic Offering is being staged by guest artist Pablo Francisco Ruvalcaba and UofSC Assistant Professor André Megerdichian, both former Limón dancers. The 1964 work was Limón’s tribute to modern dance pioneer Doris Humphry, with whom he studied as a young dancer. Humphry’s influence was key to what is widely known today as the “Limón Technique.”
This performance of A Choreographic Offering is a reprise for many of the UofSC dancers, who first performed the work in April 2021 for the Excavating Movement concert. Megerdichian says the chance to revisit the work has been invaluable.
“Returning to material after time away is a big growth opportunity,” says Megerdichian. “They’ve come back to it with a strengthened understanding of the Limón movement principles which is full of subtlety and nuance even while it’s overtly virtuosic and physical. We’ve also had to replace four cast members and the original crew has been teaching them the material which has further reinforced their own understanding. It’s really beautiful to see.”
Megerdichian refers to the piece as one of the masterworks of 20th century modern dance. “It’s beautiful and complex,” he says, “full of moments that pull you to the edge of your seat or have you sitting back with wonder.”
In Becoming Swans, instructor Waldrop inventively reimagines the prologue of the iconic ballet Swan Lake as a female-driven family drama set in the Reconstruction-era South. Presenting the main characters Odette and Odile as sisters and counterparts rather than rivals and transforming the story’s original villain Von Rothbart into the sisters’ domineering mother Ruth, the work reconceptualizes the curse that turns the original ballet’s main characters into swans as a product of a mother’s loss of a control in a rapidly changing society.
“I have always been interested in reimagining traditional, classical ballet and seeing how we could have the essence of the story, but then take it from a different point of view,” says Waldrop.
“The more I've researched the southern gothic genre in literature and film, I see a complementary relationship between it and the stories of classical ballet. There's space for the supernatural,” she adds. "In this genre, environment is essential. It contributes to the characters behaving in unpredictable, appalling ways. There's chaos, horror, strict societal expectations for women in the South before and during that time and that’s why I chose the setting of the Reconstruction-era South. And while environment is influential, the main source of pure evil and shock isn't that or goblins or magic, but a dark internal force that spurs a woman to abuse her role as a mother in exchange for her daughters’ eternal innocence.”
Associate Professor Tanya Wideman-Davis’ original work Haptic Variations is described by the choreographer as a reflective, physical exploration of how human engagement with objects in a pandemic world contrast with how we engage with each other. Dancers interact with three large sculptures, designed by UofSC dance production manager Eric Morris, throughout the work.
“The style of dance is a hybrid of technical and rhythmic vernacular movements,” says Wideman-Davis. “I was mostly interested in seeing the students explore a range of polyrhythmic possibilities to reflect the contemporary world we live in.”
For more information about the UofSC Dance Company Fall Concert or the dance program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.