“Dance Energies” showcases differences in concert piece

Alyssa Sparacino

Dancers will showcase various types of human energies in “Dance Energies,” a piece within the “Dance 007: To Live and Let Dance” concert.

The concert opens tonight in E. Turner Stump Theatre in the Music and Speech Center.

The piece was originally choreographed by professional American dancer May O’Donnell in 1959.

Barbara Verlezza, assistant professor and the piece’s director, brings first-hand experience to the piece. She and her husband, Sabatino Verlezza, have performed “Dance Energies” while working with the May O’Donnell Dance Company.

Sabatino, a part-time faculty member in the dance program at Kent State, said O’Donnell created many original roles while involved in the first dance company of Martha Graham.

“A choreographer can suggest movement, but to actually create the role is an invention that requires artistry,” he said of the late O’Donnell.

He said that there are different kinds of energies in dance, which is what the piece is all about.

Highlighting the differences between male and female, the opening section of the piece has the men and women dancers separated, “almost like two amoebas on the floor,” Sabatino said.

Then, he said, there is an evolution where one cell from each gender come and dance together on an elevated set.

“It states what it means to move as a man and how to move as a woman,” he said. “In western civilization, anyone can look at this and say ‘that’s feminine, that’s masculine.'”

Next is a section called a “men’s rhythmic,” when the male dancers dance alone. He said that generally a section with only the female dancers follows, but was left out for this performance.

Brandon Hall, a sophomore dance education major, will perform in this piece, which he describes as “creation — kind of like Adam and Eve.”

The couple incorporates the May O’Donnell dancing technique into their classes.

“Experientially and educationally, Barbara chose this piece because it gives an experience to the students and makes the connection with teaching and performing,” said Sabatino about why his wife chose “Dance Energies.”

He said audience members who come to the concert will bring their own experiences of what they believe is feminine and masculine.

He said those experiences, meshed with a “statement about humanity,” as he called the piece, will let the audience make their own interpretations.

“It’s the human condition suggested,” he said. “Rather than saying, ‘this is what it is,’ it spurs the imagination.”

Contact performing arts reporter Alyssa Sparacino at [email protected].

Famous Male Dance Pioneers

Ted Shawn — As one of the great pioneers of modern dance, Shawn and his all-male group of dancers revolutionized people’s view of male dancers as they performed across the United States during the 1930s.

George Balanchine — The legendary choreographer co-founded The School of American Ballet in 1934, which is the official training academy for the New York City Ballet.

Louis XIV — France’s Louis XIV is one of the most distinguished male dancers in history and became known as the Sun King after an appearance in a ballet in 1653 as the Sun King, Apollo.

Gaétan and Auguste Vestris — When this father and son pair performed in London in 1781, a session of Parliament was suspended to allow members to attend the performance.

Jean Balon — The term ballon, meaning elasticity of the feet, was derived from his name because he jumped and moved with such extraordinary lightness.

August Bournonville — A dancer, choreographer and teacher from Denmark whose “Bournonville style” of dancing produced some of the world’s greatest male dancers.

Vaslav Nijinsky — Known as the first great male dancer of the 20th century, he was the first man to dance the role as the poet in the one-act ballet, “Les Sylphides,” during which a lone man dances surrounded by a corps of women.

Sources: The Advocate, June 25, 2002 by Joseph Carman, The School of American Ballet Dancewear — The Male Dancer