Spring Concert Highlights Busy Season for Alma Dance

“Performing with live music is a rare and educative opportunity that provides an extra layer of ‘liveliness’ and ‘humanness’ on stage.” — Rosely Conz

Members of Alma College dance during the Fall 2017 performance.Members of Alma College dance during the Fall 2017 performance.A busy winter term for Alma College Dance has included a workshop in West African/Cuban/Haitian dance, preparations for a national conference performance and rehearsals for the annual spring concert featuring a lively program of original works.

The spring dance concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17 and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 18 in the Remick Heritage Center, Presbyterian Hall.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and up, and free for Alma College staff, students and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. Call (989) 463-7304 for ticket information.

The program will feature five pieces, four of them being original works, choreographed by Alma College dance faculty Ben Munisteri, Rosely Conz and Kristen Bennett. The Alma College Kiltie Dances also will perform two pieces.

The first of Munisteri’s two modern dance pieces, choreographed for seven dancers, will be performed to two Sufjan Stevens songs — one of which is “Mystery Love,” an Academy Award nominee. Munisteri’s second piece is an upbeat, syncopated and mischievous solo to be danced by Conz and performed to the music of Ryuichi Sakamoto.

“As a true artist and educator, I am always learning, and the solo is giving me a chance to share and learn from my colleague,” says Conz.

Conz has choreographed a contemporary piece with live music written by Colin Payne, a graduate student at Michigan State University. Performing the music will be a nine-piece orchestra composed of MSU musicians. Half of the stage will be filled with the musicians, limiting the area available to the dancers.

“Creating a piece with half of the space that we usually have was a challenge that was embraced by the dancers,” says Conz. “They realize that performing with live music is a rare and educative opportunity that provides an extra layer of ‘liveliness’ and ‘humanness’ on stage. It adds to the ephemerality of dance as an art form.”

Visiting artist Ronald K. Brown, far left, with Alma dancers.Visiting artist Ronald K. Brown, far left, with Alma dancers.Bennett’s work is set to music by the 1980s rock band Queen. Following the band’s break-up, guitarist Brian May returned to school and earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics. His dissertation was on the Zodiacal dust cloud. Bennett was intrigued by the interdisciplinary potential in merging May’s two identities.

“After reading his thesis, I referenced the patterns of interplanetary dust as well as the Zodiacal light pattern to form shapes and movement in my work,” says Bennett. “Because I am using music by Queen, it is inherently recognizable to most, but May’s thesis has created another layer for the audience to digest. There are also some really creative elements with our lights, and costumes that we are very excited for the audience to see.”

The Kiltie Dancers will perform a controversial piece that was removed decades ago from the traditional highland dance vocabulary. Since then it has continued to be performed throughout New Zealand, and now, with Munisteri’s encouragement, at Alma.

“It really is an almost funny sight,” says Munisteri. “The dancers do a lot of gesturing as though they’re carrying sailor horn pipes, brooms and buckets while highland dancing. I think the piece adds a good contrast to the others performed.”

Earlier in the term, guest artist Ronald K. Brown taught a workshop in West African/Cuban/Haitian dance.

“Time constraints prevented the creation of a dance by Brown; however, it was wonderful to have students get acquainted with that flavor of dance and a more global dance experience,” says Munisteri.

Following the spring concert, seven dancers will leave for Madison, Wisc., where there they will perform at the American College Dance Association Conference.

Story published on March 05, 2018