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University Dance Company Spring Concert will feature skiffle, African-American roots music

Thursday, April 11, 2019

LAWRENCE — Choreographers from the University of Kansas Department of Theatre & Dance will pay tribute to the roots of skiffle music and highlight outstanding student work at its annual spring concert.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. April 18-19 and 2 p.m. April 20 at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St. 

Faculty choreographers are Patrick Suzeau, Jerel Hilding and Maya Tillman-Rayton. Additionally, three senior dance students were selected to present their choreographic work this semester: Jillian Armstrong, Amanda Hoyt and Falletta Kirksey.

Skiffle, a synonym for early jug band music, emerged in the 1920s in the U.S. In the 1950s, a skiffle revival took place in the United Kingdom, parallel to the rise of early rhythm-and-blues and rock ‘n’ roll. The first half of the evening will be devoted to skiffle and early American roots music. Audiences can expect to hear a range of music from lyrical and intimate to jaunty and fun.

show artwork for the University Dance Company Spring Concert features hand-drawn dancer figures leaping and posing on drawings of a banjo and guitar

Hilding, associate professor and dance studies coordinator, has set a work titled “One Theme, Four Times,” which takes the audiences through four time periods and includes mid-19th century ballet, ragtime, 1920s and 1950s dance styles.

Suzeau, professor of dance, will present “Rondo,” where war is the recurring leading theme with a little love story added in. The dancers are caught in perpetual occurrences through several contrasting scenes set to a variety of jazz musical styles.

In “Procession,” Tillman-Rayton, a department lecturer, recreates a procession parading through New Orleans. Expect big brass band music and a fever pitch of various moves and outlandish costumes. Those familiar with the social clubs and nuances of Mardi Gras will especially appreciate the scenes that play out.

Armstrong’s “Quintessence” is a reflection on her time as a student at KU, her personal growth and her evolving relationship with others. It’s about a Jayhawk leaving the nest but always cherishing the people who have shaped her.

 “The Invisible,” choreographed by Kirksey, examines schizophrenia through two separate characters: one who is struggling to grasp what is fantasy and reality, and the other who attempts to help the struggling girl. 

The hard-hitting abstract dance titled “Within and Without,” choreographed by Hoyt, is about finding strength and displaying confidence.  

Tickets are on sale at the Lawrence Arts Center box office. Ticket prices are as follows: Adults, $15 at the door and $11 in advance; seniors (62 and older) and KU faculty/staff, $10 at the door and $8.50 in advance; KU students and children, $8.50 at the door and $5 in advance. Tickets can be purchased online or by stopping by the Lawrence Arts Center. Call 785-843-2787 for more information.

The University Dance Company’s Spring Concert is supported by KU Student Senate. The University Dance Company is a production wing of the Department of Theatre & Dance at the University of Kansas. The Department of Theatre & Dance is one of three departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies. For more information on the University Dance Company, visit dance.ku.edu

Top image: An early rehearsal photo for "Procession." 

Top right image: Professor Patrick Suzeau works with dancers for "Rondo."

Bottom right image: An early rehearsal photo for the performers in "One Theme, Four Times." Photos by Lisa Coble-Krings.

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