New dances by Robert La Fosse and Andrea Miller, plus Twyla Tharp’s “Treefrog in Stonehenge”– each created with the fresh vibrancy of youth in mind–will be showcased during Barnard/Columbia Dances at Miller 2014, April 25 and 26. The short, but packed season also features “Lamentation Variations,” a series of new interpretations of Martha Graham’s 1930 iconic solo.
“The program was crafted to show the fierce versatility of our dancers, their love of challenge, and the committed energy and talent that they bring to each of the dances,” said Katie Glasner and Paul Scolieri, who co-chair the dance department at Barnard College.
Offering the young dancers a chance to re-imagine the Graham classic by setting the dance on their own bodies, “Lamentation Variations” will give audiences a new look at the solo, almost 85 years after its premiere. Although “Lamentation Variations” have been created by many noted contemporary choreographers including Aszure Barton, Larry Keigwin, Lar Lubovitch, Richard Move and Yvonne Rainer, the Barnard/Columbia students will present original variations composed under the direction of Martha Graham Dance Company members. A screening of a 5-minute archival color film of Graham performing the solo herself in 1943 will precede the performance.
Robert La Fosse’s new dance, “Hold the Air,” is set to Bach’s “Concerto for Oboe, Violin and Strings in D minor.” An homage to George Balanchine, the ballet incorporates what La Fosse has learned about music, counterpoint, and the use of negative and positive space from watching Balanchine’s dances and from dancing in them as a principal at New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. With a cast of ten women on point and a single man, the 13 ••• minute ballet sometimes quotes, sometimes references, and occasionally steals from the great master, according to the choreographer. It is pure classical ballet.
Andrea Miller calls upon her early Doris Humphrey training in her appropriately titled “Fall and Recovery,” a three-part work, which she sets to Brian Eno’s “Three variations on the Canon in D Major by Johann Pachebel.” Engaging her 13 dancers in the choreographic process, Miller celebrates her own past by deconstructing, reconstructing and honoring Humphrey’s historic play with gravity, and its allusions to the human experience of falling and recovering.
Taking a different tack, Twyla Tharp’s “Treefrog in Stonehenge,” the choreographer’s first work for students, integrates her ever-evolving ideas about dance by incorporating phrases from her new technique classes. Driven by the dancers’ movement, David Kahne’s score brims with enthusiastic energy filled with rapid shifts in mood, rhythm and style. The piece celebrates the 16 individual dancers’ strengths as well as the sense of community fostered in a dance class.
Barnard College has long been a force in the dance world, the four-year home to firebrand graduates such as Twyla Tharp and Sara Rudner, as well as much younger dancers including Emma Desjardins, a recent member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company; Jamie Scott, a member of the Trisha Brown Dance Company; Michael Novak, who currently dances with the Paul Taylor Dance Company; Rebecca Warner, who performs with Sarah Michelson; Anna Schon of Reggie Wilson’s Fist and Heel; plus June Omura and Marjorie Folkman, both former members of the Mark Morris Dance Group. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
** The Barnard College Department of Dance is the official center for dance performance and scholarship for all of Columbia University.For more information, visit www.dance.barnard.edu