'Beyond Words II' raises the bar at Mercyhurst

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This weekend marks the start to the Mercyhurst Dance Department’s production of “Beyond Words II.”

The theme for this academic year has been declared as “Freedom Season,” and this performance will certainly reflect on artistic, expressionistic, spiritual and creative ideals. “Beyond Words II” is an uncensored celebration of both classical and contemporary action and expression.

The Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre will again share the stage with SoMar Dance Works for performances Saturday, Oct. 27, at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center (PAC).

Lisa de Ribere, a guest choreographer for this production from York, Pennsylvania, worked in residence with Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre (MBT). She worked in collaboration with the MBT to produce the world premiere “Eye of the Wind.” De Ribere has performed with New York City Ballet and also American Ballet Theatre.

She has produced almost 80 choreographic pieces for ballet companies all over Europe and the United States, including San Francisco Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet. De Ribere has also gained four separate choreography fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Guest artist Justin Koertgen of Dayton Ballet will give a spectacular performance during “Beyond Words II.”

He will be showcased in senior dance major Tess Sinke’s dramatic “Lord Look Down.” Also during the Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre section of the performance, world premiere dance works by Tauna Hunter and Michael Gleason will be exhibited. This section will include “…I Used to Know” choreographed by senior Jo Alspaugh and alumna Noelle Lelakus, as well as “Ave Maria” by Tauna Hunter.

SoMar Dance Works will then perform a couple pieces to share with the audience.

Choreographed by directors by Mark and Solveig Santillano, “Coral Eden” is a piece that was originally created 12 years ago and is set to music by Ray Castrey. This will be a particularly exciting section of the performance because not only was the music composed specifically for this dance work, but the composer will also be on hand to play his own music.

SoMar will also be getting in the Halloween spirit for this performance. Featuring Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein,” “It’s Alive” uses all nine of the SoMar dancers to portray a mad scientist and laboratory setting.

Complete with a fumbling assistant and pack of zombies, the dancers will have the opportunity to bring the dead back to life, figuratively, of course. The concert will also feature three world premiere performances. “O’er Land of the Free,” which gives insight to the quality of life in a world where the inhabitants are under constant, unwavering surveillance: a duet for Mark Santillano and Dr. Scott Meier of the D’Angelo Department of Music.

This coordination of tap and saxophone will be performed to Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies.” Also, a multimedia solo for Solveig Santillano titled “Somewhere Between Was and Will Be,” will be performed. The piece focuses on the ideas of aging in a world that focuses on the endeavors of young adults.

Tickets for dance performances are $15.50 for adults and $12.50 for seniors and students. Mercyhurst students will be admitted for $3.50. A preview performance will also be offered on Friday at 4:30 p.m. with all tickets selling for $5 (balcony seating only). Tickets can be purchased by calling the PAC box office at 824-3000.