The Reluctant Writer: Something Else to do When I Should Be Writing

February 17, 2010

Cabaret Comes to Trustus Wednesday night with Marjorie Barnes & Wideman/Davis Dance

If you can tear yourself away from the Olympics on Wednesday night, (did somebody say Tivo?), race on down to TRUSTUS Theatre on Lady Street for a taste of New York City, Columbia Style.  The brain child of former Broadway star – now Columbia arts supporter, Gillian Albrecht, TRUSTUS Theatre presents an innovative series of monthly cabaret events starting Wednesday night with Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman-Davis of Wideman/Davis Dance Company and featuring the huge voice of the beautiful Marjorie Barnes.

Marjorie Barnes may be best known for her work with the musical group The Fifth Dimension (can you suuuuuurry, can you picnic? wo-o-o-ah) — Marjorie replaced Marilyn McCoo in the mid-seventies — but she has also enjoyed a stellar career as a jazz vocalist both on Broadway and throughout Europe.  Among the shows she has starred in are Hair, Dream Girls, Bubbling Brown Sugar, and Pal Joey.

The fund raising event starts at 7:30 and tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, with student rush tickets available at 7 pm at the door. But don’t dally — there were just a few seats left by Tuesday night — and seating is general admission. For tickets call 254-9732.

Watch this space for more info on the upcoming shows.

November 19, 2009

Wideman/Davis Dance Company at City Art, 7:30 during Vista Lights TONIGHT

The buzz in the Columbia dance world is definitely about the new professional company that has chosen our increasingly arts-friendly city as their new home.  Wideman/Davis Dance Company isn’t really new though.  They’ve been around for several years, forming after Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman-Davis got tired of living married life in different cities while Tanya danced as principal dancer at the illustrious Alonzo King Lines Ballet in San Francisco, and Thaddeus, heavily in demand as a dancer and choreographer, flitted from city to city creating his own personal style of Thaddeus-magic.  In fact, Thaddeus and Tanya aren’t really new to Columbia anymore, having been here throughout the year teaching at USC’s sky-rocketing-to-fame dance program, with their full company in residence for the month of November.  From their performances at 701 to Drayton Hall to the Koger Center to Mark Plessinger’s FOM series last month, more and more people are getting a glimpse of the blend of exacting technique with soul-stirring emotion, coated with a lovely layer of social consciousness, that these people bring to the stage — wherever they choose their stage to be.   And tonight, you can get a glimpse of the glory that is the Wideman/Davis Dance Company during Vista Lights.  As their early holiday gift to the city, the full company will be performing (for free, no less) at City Art at 7:30.  And from what I hear, darlin’s they will be rocking it out, treating you to excerpts from Rock and My Soul — yes, rock and roll music like you have never witnessed it before.  Personally, I’m pretty psyched.

And while we’re talking Wideman/Davis, mark your calendars for the nights of December 1st through 4th, when the full company will be premiering their new work at Drayton Hall on the campus of USC.  The new piece, entitled Balance, was created in response to the couples’ experiences working with the homeless here in Columbia.  Wednesday night, the 2nd, they will be hosting a group of the same homeless individuals and families — actually their students whom they have been teaching at one of the local shelters — as their guests for the performance.  This beautiful gesture of respect and appreciation will be preceded by a complementary dinner from Pasta Fresca, arranged by USC senior, the sweetheart, Margey Bolen.

Then, on Friday night, December 4th, it is your chance to get involved.  And I mean that literally.  Because WDDC is not your typical performing arts organization, they have chosen to forego the usual method of growing their supporters, (asking for donations at different levels of commitment, with different levels of rewards), by inviting any and all to become Partners in the Wideman/Davis Dance Project at a single level of $50 per person.  The smart cookies who join the Wideman/Davis Dance Project early, (prior to the beginning of the performance on Dec. 4th), will also be offered a free ticket to the Friday night show, as well as an invitation to a reception in their honor Friday evening, and future dancebill listing as charter Wideman/Davis Dance Project members.

I’ll have complete information on how you can become a part of this amalgam of socially conscious art supporters soon, but feel free to leave your contact info in the comments section below, or email me at caboit@aol.com, if you’d like me to follow-up on getting that info into your hard-working hands post haste.  In the meantime, come and see the Wideman/Davis Dance Company perform tonight at 7:30 at City Art during Vista Lights. I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

November 7, 2009

USC Dance, Stacey Calvert, Kyra Strasberg, live music, my kid, and more

As I wrote earlier this week, the USC Dance Company performed last night at the Koger Center starting at 7:30, as they will again tonight.  They are calling this program American at Heart — for reasons I’m not sure I understand.  Three distinctly different pieces have been assembled for the audience’s pleasure and, this time, there is a nice variety of dancers performing, rather than seeing the same old same old as we often do.  And yes, I realize that my own kid has probably been the most same old of all the same olds for the past three years.  Still, fair is fair, and good is good.  The program has grown through the roof with better and better young dancers showing up every fall to enroll in the Bachelor of Performing Arts degree program.  Now we get to see quite a selection of very good young dancers on the stage.  Good job USC Department of Dance.

The show starts out with one of George Balanchine’s most  beautiful ballets, Serenade. Now here’s something that not a lot of people realize.  The only way you are going to legally get to see a Balanchine piece performed in Columbia is if you have someone who has been approved by the Balanchine Trust  to stage it.  They have to meet exceedingly precise standards in regard to the application of the Balanchine style and technique, and they have to document their procedures and provide film of the performance for the Balanchine Trust to approve.  There aren’t a lot of those people just hanging around Columbia, or South Carolina, for that matter, but USC is lucky to have Stacey Calvert as their Associate Artistic Director, who is.  Stacey was a former soloist with the New York City Ballet.  Although we don’t get to see her dance anymore, I can attest that just watching her teach a class is the equivalent of watching a wonder in the dance arts.  Her movements are beautiful; her physique, which she carefully tends, is a work of art.  Stacey is one of South Carolina’s treasures — we are phenomenally fortunate to have her here and at our university.

This performance’s presentation of Serenade is a testimony to Stacey’s work in the studio and Artistic Director Susan Anderson’s work in growing her program.  Bonnie performed the same role in the same piece three years ago when she was a freshman here at USC.  But watching the performance today, compared to then, is like watching a different company.  Of course, most of the dancers are new, with the older dancers having graduated or moved on.  But the difference is in the quality of the corps and the maturity of the lead dancers — Bonnie, Sara Caton, Olivia Anderson, McCree O’Kelley, and Keith Mearns.  Even taking into consideration the bias that I probably have when watching people I’ve grown to love dance, I can say with certainty that the members of this program,the members of this company, are some of the very best dancers you’ll have the opportunity to see in South Carolina.  I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees.

There is a brief pause in the performance after Serenade, followed by a dance in six movements choreographed by Luis Dominguez.  The piece is titled after its music, the Bach Cello Suite.  Live music is wonderfully provided by cellist Kenneth Pruitt, who sits on the corner of the dancers’ stage.  This is a bit of a minimalist piece, and it is lovely.  Keep your eyes on dancers Ashley Johanson and Lauren Shankle.  They are significant parts of the future of the dance program at USC.

After intermission you return to the audience for Thaddeus Davis’ and Tanya Wideman-Davis’ choreographic work, If At First We Dream, set to the music of Andre Previn.  The violinist is Ashley Horvat and the pianist is Rosemarie Suniga.  Kyra Strasberg, Columbia native, distinguished artist in residence, and former principal dancer at Boston Ballet, celebrates her return to the stage with this piece.  Carolyn Bolton, McCree O’Kelley, Ryan Thomas, and William Smith also offer exceptional performances.

Come out to support your local university and take advantage of some truly exquisite dance and innovative choreography.  The USC Dance Company is on its way to being one of the top companies in higher education in the country.  Come see it now, so you can eventually say that you remember seeing it back when.

Blog at WordPress.com.