Dancers promote discussion

Elizabeth Myers

CHECK OUT photos from Dynamic Discourse.

People running in fear. The sound of planes zooming by overhead. The beat of drums; a flash of light; someone falls, then another. soon the area is covered with unmoving bodies.

What sounds like a war scene is actually a scene from a dance entitled “Torn Asunder,” one of six dances in the Kent Dance Ensemble’s annual spring concert. The Kent Dance Ensemble is Kent State’s only student performance group and is made up of 14 junior and senior dance performance and education majors. Auditions are held once a year for admission into the group.

The theme and title of this year’s concert is “Dynamic Discourse.”

“As choreographers, we use movement as our language,” said Kim Karpanty, the artistic director of the pre-professional dance company and choreographer of “Torn Asunder.”

“We use dance to stimulate the audience to think about the issues,” Karpanty said. “If we make something dynamic, it informs the audience.”

“Torn Asunder,” which was first performed at the end of last semester in “Dance 007: To Live and Let Dance,” is a social commentary on displaced refugees all over the world.

Another piece which stands out is dance professor Melanie George’s “MingusAmongUS,” a jazz piece set to music by controversial jazz musician Charles Mingus.

“It’s about how you interact with yourself and how you interact with others dancing with you in the space,” senior dance education major Anna Anzio said, a first year KDE dancer. “It’s very musical.”

Artist-in-residence Joan Meggitt also adds her view to the show with a modern piece entitled “Five Solos Beset by a Quartet.” Her piece features five dancers moving through four different sections with often immobile soloists.

The second half of the concert displays the work of three guest artists.

A Kent State and KDE alumna Gina Kholer returned to choreograph a piece. “Yes, please…,” a quartet, explores social roles in today’s society.

“It looks at how females are expected to be proper,” student artistic director of the show Leah Brady said, “and sometimes you need to break away from that.”

“Yes, please…” was one of two dances the Kent Dance department showed at the American College Dance Festival in Rochester, N.Y., over spring break. The dance was one of 12 (out of 45) chosen for the Sunday Gala concert at end of the week.

Former Kent State dance professor Tommy Parlon, who currently teaches around the Washington D.C. area, spent a few days on campus at the beginning of the semester teaching members of KDE a modern piece for the show.

The final guest piece, “Reverse Fault,” choreographed by local artist Kora Radella, is a double-cast duet, exploring a fascination with the lines in a human hand. Video of palms plays behind the dancers as they perform

“Not every piece has a theme,” Karpanty said.

Some dances are just for the audience to enjoy the light, movement and color.

“It’s very stimulating,” Anzio said. “It’s very diverse visually. The lights and the costumes are very different.”

In addition to their annual spring concert, the Ensemble travels to local elementary and high schools to put on exhibitions.

“We intend discourse to promote conversation,” Karpanty said, “whether the audience agrees or not.”

“Dynamic Discourse” opens tonight at 8 p.m. in E. Turner Stump Theatre in Music and Speech. Other showings are Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 for students and $14 for adults and are available through the box office (330)-672-2497.

Contact performing arts reporter Elizabeth Myers at [email protected].