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November 4, 2002

Dance concert 'connects voices'

By Deb Hammacher

Connecting Voices,” the Emory Dance Company fall concert, Nov. 8 and 9, will be a program of diverse pieces, premieres and historic works featuring choreography and direction by Emory dance faculty and Atlanta-based guest artists.

George Staib, an award-winning choreographer who joined the Emory faculty in 2001, and Tara Shepard Myers, formerly of the Sankofa Dance Theater in Savannah, Ga., will premiere works at the event.

In Staib’s work, “Courting the Damned” for 16 dancers, he invites the audience to create a story line for themselves as the piece moves from its dark and eerie beginning to frenzied motion.

“My choreographic intention is guided by mood or feeling,” Staib said. “I strive to create dances that are visually appealing, viscerally evocative and open for interpretation.”

Myers’ new work incorporates tap, jazz, step and hip-hop, and it investigates how these forms merge to produce a total experience. The musical score for Myers’ piece has been engineered and mixed here in Atlanta by Brian “Toronto” Baldwin.

Anna Leo, associate professor of dance, has restaged “Solitary Dancer,” a work she premiered last season in collaboration with the Emory Wind Ensemble. This work is inspired by Warren Benson’s piece of the same name. The dance “deals with the quiet, posed energy that one may observe in a dancer in repose, alone with her inner music,” Benson said.

Guest artist and Emory dance alumna Blake Beckham will present a duet that initially took shape through collaboration with New York artist Camille Dieterle. Beckham said she crafted this movement to explore “the human struggle to communicate and connect.”

Choosing the motif of hands lodged inside their pockets, Beckham directs the dancers to fight, thrash, spin and spill, and then ultimately to come together in what she refers to as “a rich connection expressed through the sharing of weight, and support of each other’s bodies.” The piece features live performance of a score by Atlanta artists Adam Overton and Ben Davis.

The concert will be further highlighted by the restaging of excerpts from an 1831 piece “Ballet of the Nuns” from the opera-ballet “Robert le Diable.” The work has been read from a Labanotation score (a system of symbols that records dances) and is directed by guest artist Valarie Mockabee and choreographed by Romantic ballet artist August Bournonville.

“This work is important to the history of dance,” Mockabee said, “since it is the first time lighting, set design, choreography and costuming functioned together to create the magical and otherworldliness that would be indicative of the many Romantic ballets to follow. It signaled new developments in ballet technique.”

Emory Dance Company regularly commissions choreographic works and musical scores by local and national guest artists. Their performances include annual concerts of faculty works as well as programs directed and choreographed by students.

“Connecting Voices” will be performed Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8 and 9, at 8 p.m. in the Performing Arts Studio. Admission is $8; $6 for students, artists, seniors and children. For information and tickets, call 404-727-5050, e-mail or visit