TOGETHER AGAIN: LAS VEGAS & KOREA
By: Hal de Becker
UNLV’s Department of Dance and Korea National Sport University recently celebrated their fifth collaborative student dance concert at Judy Bayley Theatre. The performance was aptly titled ‘Together 5’ and was part of an exchange program between the two universities.
Twenty young dancers from each university participated, and performed mostly in separate groups. UNLV had the first half of the program, KNSU the second.
The high point of the concert was UNLV’s ‘The Rite of Spring Suite’. The “Suite” was an original idea featuring ‘Le Sacre du Printemps’ choreographed to Stravinsky’s revolutionary score by Louis Kavouras and Cathy Allen, preceded by an effective prologue choreographed by Richard Havey to original music by Beth Mehocic.
Ms Mehocic’s intriguing composition, ‘Left of Winter’, occasionally and appropriately possessed nuanced references to the Stravinsky music, and Mr Havey’s inventive dance for five men was well executed by Alex Cancel, Lonnie Chaney, Justin Velarde, Reed Wells and Tyler Wolf.
Rather than attempting to revive Nijinsky’s 1913 ballet of which, aside from photos, no visual record exists (it was only performed seven times) Kavouras and Allen courageously engaged the legendary music and title to create a compelling original work.
‘Sacre’, was performed by 11 ladies and the above five gentlemen all carrying suitcases and wearing long coats. They were Travelers seeking spring and a new start. The occasional ‘fog’ devise, resembling steam, contributed to the ambience of a train station.
The unique concept was masterfully realized with symbolism rather than mime, and the syncopated patterns of movements between groups were mesmerizing. It was totally compatible with the music and the audience was riveted.
This work will be performed in Seoul South Korea next month when the UNLV dancers present it there as part of the exchange program.
‘Lazzi Stravinsky’ was co-choreographed for nine dancers by Dolly Kelepecz and Margot Mink Colbert to three short pieces by Stravinsky: ‘Fanfare for a New Theatre’, ‘Tango’ and ‘Scherzo a’ la Russe’.
Its striking masks, facial make-ups and costumes, and lots of rolling, running and jostling evoked a colorful combination of circus and Commedia dell’ Arte.
‘The Letter’, choreographed by Kelepecz and Kavouras, was a light-weight trifle that had three UNLV dancers joining forces with four of the Koreans.
Of the four Korean works presented the most impressive was a show-stopper entitled ‘Heuttteu Reojin Stone’ choreographed for six ladies by Kim Hyun Nam. It was a dynamic athletic dance enlivened by fascinating, vigorous arm and hand movements. Despite its fast paced activity it possessed a mystical undercurrent.
The music, ‘Jambinai’, was sub-titled “Hand at the End of the Fingertips. The ‘ancient Grecian style’ white tunics were simple and perfect for the piece.
The other KNSU dances included ‘Blossom’: lyrical; ‘Dance of Sadangpae’: traditional; ‘Haydn Variations’: academic. They were all visually striking with flowing, brightly colored skirts and elaborate classical tutus, but the choreography and execution were sometimes uneven.
The Korean dancers were all appropriately groomed with professional stage make-up and uniform hair styles that enhanced their warm smiles and stage presence.
UNLV’s dance students also perform in Australia, Germany, Denmark, Canada, Scotland and other countries, but I’ve been told that Korea is one their favorites.