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April 9, 2012 /FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / High-res photo available upon request
Media Contact: Chelsea de Jesus, 408-416-6555, cdejesu@artist.uncsa.edu




WINSTON-SALEM – The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) presents Spring Dance, a showcase of works from the ballet and contemporary programs in the School of Dance, April 19 – 22 in the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem.

The program includes Beach Birds by Merce Cunningham, The Unsung by José Limón, Sophisticated Kingdom by Larry Keigwin and Act II of Swan Lake. This last piece is accompanied by the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra with Chancellor John Mauceri conducting.

Merce Cunningham’s Beach Birds, which originally premiered in 1991, opens the concert. While some of Cunningham’s pieces are more abstract, Beach Birds is an example of one of his dances that was inspired by the natural world.

Brenda Daniels, Interim Dean of the School of Dance, will remount this piece. Daniels has been influenced especially by Cunningham’s work, which she teaches at UNCSA.

Photo by Drew Davis

School of Dance guest artist Clay Taliaferro works with Anthony Sigler in rehearsal for UNCSA's annual Spring Dance.

“My background as a dancer, teacher and choreographer were all very influenced by Merce Cunningham. I studied at his school, and subsequently taught there for 10 years,” said Daniels. “Although I never danced with his company, I have learned and watched many of his dances. Beach Birds is one of my favorites.”

Following Beach Birds is Act II of Swan Lake, with Tchaikovsky’s music performed live by the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra. Presenting this piece with a live orchestra greatly enhances the experience for both the audience and the dancer.

School of Dance faculty artist Fanchon Cordell said “it’s inspiring to have the volume of the sound and the vibration while dancing on stage. Many choose to dance because of the music.”

Swan Lake originally premiered in 1877, though most dance companies base their staging on the 1895 revival. Act II tells the story of Prince Siegfried, who happens upon the swans while hunting and discovers the beautiful swan-maiden, Odette, among the flock. An evil sorcerer has cursed Odette so that she is a swan by day and a woman by night.

José Limón’s Unsung is a tribute to the plight of North America and focuses on the physicality of the movement with very little adornment used to dramatize the piece. It is performed without musical accompaniment, instead letting the music arise from the sound of the footfalls and rhythm of the dance.

School of Dance faculty artist Sean Sullivan said of the piece: “The focus is on the movement. It’s about as bare bones as you can get with no other adornment. It’s very stark and pared down with no need for any other contribution. The dance stands alone.”

José Limón originally choreographed Unsung in 1970 for Julliard, one of the last pieces he produced before his death in 1972. Unsung represents Limón’s homage to the Americas by dedicating the solos of his piece to eight Native American chiefs as builders and defenders of civilization in harmony with the elements.

The last piece presented in Spring Dance is Sophisticated Kingdom, by Larry Keigwin. Kingdom has a very bright, festive vibe that draws the other pieces together with its mixture of dance.

Kingdom is a piece that was created on our students in 2009 by the brilliant up and coming choreographer Larry Keigwin,” said Daniels. “It is a short and splashy dance mash-up of high energy ballet and contemporary moves. It is a tremendously fun and exciting piece… Since our students are ALWAYS clamoring for works by Larry Keigwin, it was very easy to agree to the request.”

Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. April 19 to 21 and at 2 p.m. April 22 at UNCSA’s Stevens Center, located at 405 West 4th Street in Winston-Salem. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors, and may be purchased by visiting the UNCSA Box Office at the Stevens Center or by calling 336-721-1945. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.uncsa.edu/performances.

As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.