Dance Professor Chung-Fu Chang partners with Verb Ballets and Martha Graham Dance Company

Professor Chung-Fu Chang

Professor Chung-Fu Chang

A newly commissioned piece by CSU Dance Professor Chung-Fu Chang premiered by Verb Ballets, which partnered with Martha Graham Dance Company's Lamenation Variation Project, in Cleveland on Feb. 21, 2015. The project will culminate in 2016 with Verb Ballets' performance in New York City on a shared program with the Graham Company.

"Lamentation Variation 2: The Veil" was an impassioned duet choreographed by Chung-Fu Chang and set to music by Bach.  Also somber in tone, the duet, performed by Stephaen Hood and a veiled Kara Madden, captured the emotional struggle of Graham's solo in outstretched arms and searching body movements." ~ Steve Sucato, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Verb Ballets Performance Photo
Photo by Bill Naiman

Verb Ballets to premiere Four New Works at The Breen Center on February 21, 2015 (Press release from

CLEVELAND, OH (January 20, 2015) – Returning to The Breen Center for its annual winter appearance on February 21, 2015 at 8pm, the innovative Verb Ballets will premiere three new works in honor of the 85th anniversary of Martha Graham’s Lamentation. The program will also premiere a newly commission ballet by Associate Director, Richard Dickinson to live music played by world acclaimed pianist, Zsolt Bognár. Verb Ballets, under the direction of Director, Dr. Margaret Carlson and Associate Director, Richard Dickinson, MFA, is dedicated to showcasing creative works that highlight the classically trained dancers in contemporary choreography.

Martha Graham premiered her solo work called Lamentation in 1930. In the years since its premiere, the dance world continues to be shaped by Graham's haunting construction. Conceived in 2007 by Janet Eilber, Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, Lamentation Variations, take Graham's 1930 dance work as inspiration. In celebration of the 85th anniversary of Lamentation, the Martha Graham Dance Company has invited Verb Ballets participate in the project to create work inspired by her signature solo.  The variations are developed under specific creative conditions guided by the Graham Company to create a choreographic sketch. The world premiere of these original commissions will premiere in Cleveland on February 21, 2015 and the project will then culminate with Verb Ballets performing in New York City on a shared program with the Graham Company in 2016.

Verb Ballets has commissioned three distinctive variations on this American masterpiece choreographed by national choreographers Antonio Brown, Chung-Fu Chang and Ginger Thatcher. The project is made possible by John P Murphy Foundation and Ann and Charles Ennis.

Antonio Brown is a dancer with Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane and a Cleveland School of the Arts graduate. In his rendition, he focuses on the hand as a conveyor of emotion and creates a sense of a group being bound as one, in grief.

Chung-Fu Chang danced with Cloudgate Dance Theatre and Kaohsiung Contemporary Dance Company in Taiwan. He returned to Verb Ballets to develop a duet that juxtaposes the metaphor of ocean waves and grief as particles of sand with a man at sea longing for his wife.

Ginger Thatcher is currently the Associate Choreographer and the Assistant Director of The Little Dancer that has just opened at the Kennedy Center to critical acclaim. Thatcher was a principal dancer with Cleveland Ballet and former soloist of the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. For her variation, Shawn Gough was asked to compose the music. Thatcher has artfully retained the nuances of Graham’s work and incorporated her own sense of grief and angelic images.

Also featured on Verb Ballets' program is a world premiere by Richard Dickinson that is being sponsored by Steinway Piano Gallery - Cleveland and performed by internationally renowned pianist Zsolt Bognár. The ballet is set to an original score composed by Philip M. Cucchiara. Bognár’s performances have been praised as, “overwhelmingly visceral...a phenomenal sound world realized through maximum palette.”