Mercyhurst dancers interpret Stravinsky

Mercyhurst College dance students will present their fall performance, “A Stravinsky Celebration,” twice this Saturday.
The group will perform at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday in the Performing Arts Center. A special discounted performance on Friday at 7 p.m. will also be available to the community.

The performance features different dance pieces set to the music of Igor Stravinsky. The evening opens with “Puchinella Suite,” a ballet choreographed by Dance Department Chair and Artistic Director Tauna Hunter.

Next follows a modern take on the ballet “The Rite of Spring,” choreographed by Assistant Professor Mark Santillano, which puts the concept of human sacrifice into the context of college spring break.

Although not set to Stravinsky music, a performance of “Closing the Glass Door,” by guest artist Randy James, will also appear in the show. James taught a class and handed the piece to the Mercyhurst dancers in September. If it seems familiar, “Closing the Glass Door” was initially performed at Mercyhurst at the Parent’s Weekend show.

The concert will close with a newly choreographed rendition of “Firebird” by Adjunct Professor Michael Gleason, with rehearsal assistance from Associate Professor C. Noelle Partusch.

A one-act story ballet, “Firebird” is based on a Russian folk tale about a prince and a magical glowing bird, and comes complete with princesses, monsters and plenty of fairy tale enchantment.
“Firebird” as a ballet is now celebrating its 100th year, which makes the Mercyhurst performance of this work especially appropriate.

“Our faculty has been talking about doing a Stravinsky evening for years,” said Hunter. “This 100-year anniversary of ‘Firebird’ finally pushed us into action, and I’m thrilled to pay tribute to this composer’s musical gifts for the community. I encourage music and dance lovers alike to join us for this engaging program.”

As part of the celebration of Stravinsky and his contributions to both music and dance, Assistant Professor Christine Hay will present a lecture on “Igor Stravinsky: His Impact on Dance” before the Sunday performance. The lecture will begin at 1 p.m. in Zurn 114 and is free to the public.

“A presentation on Stravinsky is an opportunity for the dance, music and art communities to look back at the collaborative roots of 20th century ballet, the days of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes,” said Hay.

With the haunting sound of Stravinsky’s music paired with the eerie undertones of much of the dance being performed, “A Stravinsky Celebration” is a great way to celebrate Halloween through art.

“Stravinsky’s scores inspired works by noted choreographers such as Fokine, Nijinsky, Nijinska, Massine and Balanchine. It would be wonderful if the artistic community of the 21st century could build such a legacy for future generations,” Said Hays.

Tickets can be purchased for $2.50 with a Mercyhurst student ID and are available by calling 824-3000 or by visiting the PAC box office. Visit Mercyhurst PAC for more information.