Faculty Dance Concert fuses text, music, and movement

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

On Saturday night, the Department of Music and Dance presented the Faculty and Friends Dance Concert in the LPAC. Ranging from traditional dances to highly interpretive modern work, the program gave students and visitors from the surrounding community a chance to watch trained dancers at work. Children (who were especially encouraged to come) and adults alike enjoyed the varied pieces.

Opening the program was “Peace, What is it?” Beautifully narrated by John Alston, the piece succeeded in being both light at times and profound at others. It was one of two pieces in which Nii Yartey participated, the other being “The Fontomfrom Dance.” Making use of the projection screen to incorporate the traditional drum ensemble of the warrior dance pieces, Professor Yartey entered the stage with an unmistakably regal air in the middle of the piece, signaling a switch from the story of a way to victory to the story of the king as victor.

At the center of the program was award winning choreographer Sean Feldman’s modern piece, “Toward within.” Inspired by Sufi poetry and building on variations of ’round dance’ twirling, the piece seemed to glorify the possibilities of energy and movement as the dancers seemed to evolve from wind to fire, water to electricity, in startling and spellbinding twists and transformations. The mood of jubilation was matched by C. Kemal Nance ’92 ‘s “Prayze!” “Prayze!” celebrated the possibilities of dance as prayer. Narrated by Duane Malone ’93, the piece blended various stages of worship in African dance and song into a gorgeous and uplifting arrangement.

Also on the program were the modern dance performances of “The Partita Project,” “Plane of Regard,” and “Mocean,” as well as “Remembered Rhythms.” Based on a violin Partita of J.S. Bach as performed by Diane Monroe, “The Partita Project” is actually being performed in full at area historic spaces, an excellent choice for the piece that feels at once airy and ancient. Also concerned with time was “Remembered Rhythms,” a piece that made use of traditional Kathak dance and text from Firenza Guidi’s “The Act of Remembering” to create a startling and suggestive piece.

Professor Sally Hess’ “Plane of Regard” was a taut balancing act, well suited to the cello suite selected. Those who attended the student dance concert last semester might be familiar with “Mocean,” which was performed in full at this concert by its choreographer, Professor Kim Arrow, replete with double film screens with images of the Great Barrier Reef.

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