Fall 2015 Dance Concert Preview

The Colorado State University Dance Program rehearses for the Fall Dance Concert, November 12, 2015.

The Colorado State University Dance Program rehearses for the Fall Dance Concert, November 12, 2015.

Take a break from mid-terms and get swept away by the innovative and creative stories that will unfold through movement as the School of Music, Theatre and Dance presents the annual Fall Dance Concert on Nov.13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee on Nov. 14 at 2 p.m.

Each semester, Jane Slusarski-Harris, director of Dance at CSU since 1988, along with her colleagues, dance professors Chung-Fu Chang and Carol Roderick, plan, design, and set original and established choreography and repertoire for the main dance concert. And even though the fall and spring dates come and go in the rhythm of the academic year, each concert makes its own imprint on the program and its patrons.

It’s Slusarski-Harris’ inherent love for her art that, for 35 years, has inspired each presentation. “Dance is beautiful, powerful, physical movement that involves the body, mind, and spirit, yet each concert easily becomes its own unique artistic and cultural expression.”

For Slusarski-Harris, it’s rewarding to watch the audience’s reaction to the live experience. “It’s inspiring to see people move with purpose as they communicate and help each other on stage and the audience senses when that all comes together.”

Within the dance program at CSU, that helpful attitude transcends concert preparation as about three dozen dance majors, faculty, and staff work together to create a daily atmosphere of dedication, collaboration, and passion. This ethic buoys Slusarski-Harris’ goal to deliver a dance education which enables graduates to have a successful and sustaining career in dance and related fields.

“I tell my students to ‘go for it,’” exudes Slusarski-Harris. “But, be prepared to work really, really hard, be smart and be genuinely nice, and realize that you may have to do anything and everything in your career – be prepared to sweep the floors!”

The Colorado State University Dance Program rehearses for the Fall Dance Concert, November 12, 2015.

The Colorado State University Dance Program rehearses for the Fall Dance Concert, November 12, 2015.

In addition to this level-headed thinking, another intrinsic component to the success of the program, and each concert, are special guest artists that work with students in master class situations during week-long residencies. For the 2015 Fall Dance Concert, members of the Verb Ballets Company, from Shaker Heights, Ohio, will perform on the concert and contribute to daily instruction.

As a company, Verb Ballets strives to develop an appreciation for dance through performances and outreach programs that promote learning and nurture wellness. The company cultivates dance appreciation through community dance classes, school residences, senior movement classes, library programs, master classes and college course partnerships (verbballets.org).

A special moment in the concert will be the duet choreographed by CSU Dance Professor Chung-Fu Chang. Originally commissioned by Verb Ballets, the piece premiered in partnership with Martha Graham Dance Company's Lamentation 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, and the CSU Dance program is excited to bring the piece to campus.

"Lamentation Variation 2: The Veil" was an impassioned duet…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," wrote Steve Sucato about the premier in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

As Slusarski-Harris’ dancers prepare for a week of intense dress rehearsals and master classes, culminating in three performances, the work ethic and technical knowledge the dance faculty instill prepares students to deal with the relentless physicality. And while the concert audience takes in the perfect combination of artistry and athleticism, Slusarski-Harris guarantees “inspiration, energy, enjoyment, and a darn good evening of live performance!”