A show so unique everyone will be able to connect

Seven tons of dirt and dancers will usher in East Carolina University’s Spring Dance 2019.

Guests will be greeted with a one-of-a-kind performance at the entrance to McGinnis Theatre beginning today. Six dancers including a featured soloist will dance in the dirt – rain or shine – before the curtain rises inside. Patrons are encouraged to arrive early for the outdoor piece, which will begin about 7:20 p.m. before each night’s 8 p.m. show.  

“The concept is kind of towards burying things of your past that you want to move on and grow from,” said Megan Crotty, a senior majoring in dance performance and choreography. The outside dance is based around a ritual and guests are encouraged to come and go as they please.

Crotty is one of the two student choreographers, and she says she hopes the audience sees the individuality of each dancer in her piece, “Brevity.”

“I want each of my dancers to stand out to the audience as themselves and embrace who they are. Their vulnerability is absolutely beautiful,” Crotty said.

Another student choreographer is senior dance major Donterreo Culp, who choreographed “Hiraeth.” He said he hopes the audience will create their own interpretation through the emotions and sense of nostalgia conveyed by the dancers, he said.

Throughout the evening, School of Theatre and Dance artists will perform choreography from guests and original works by faculty and students.

The first onstage will be an abstract work in collaboration with the North Carolina NewMusic Initiative, professor Ed Jacobs and the ECU School of Music.

The music, “The Machine is Neither,” is an interactive electroacoustic collaboration between Emma Hospelhorn, flutes and gestural control, and Ben Sutherland, composer and designer/programmer.

Hospelhorn and Sutherland had worked with dances previously, and Jacobs suggested a collaboration with dance faculty members Teal Darkenwald and John Dixon.

There is a diverse range of performances from classical ballet, to bold contemporary, to hot jazz and explosive tap.

There is a diverse range of performances from classical ballet, to bold contemporary, to hot jazz and explosive tap.

The performance will feature motion-capture suits that will generate sound and avatar images. In addition to the programmed sounds and visual images, the work will incorporate live musicians during the Saturday evening performance.

Spring Dance 2019 also will feature a piece by Jennifer Archibald, a graduate of the Alvin Ailey School who was recently appointed as the first female resident choreographer in the Cincinnati Ballet’s 40-year history.

Archibald has choreographed for the Atlanta Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Kansas City Ballet and Tulsa Ballet. She has worked commercially with Tommy Hilfiger and Nike. In 2015, she was appointed as guest faculty lecturer to develop the hip hop dance curriculum at Columbia/Barnard College.

Next, ECU associate professor Galina Panova will recreate the essence of the 19th-century romantic ballet style with Jules Perot’s “Grande Pas de Quatre” with music by Cesare Pugni. This will be followed by Dave Ingram’s abstract vision of destruction called “Apoleia.”

Following intermission, guests will enjoy ECU faculty member Dirk Lumbard’s tap homage to TV shows of the ’60s and ’70s including “I Dream of Jeannie,” “Batman,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Mission Impossible.”

The program closes with ECU’s Tommi Galaska jazz piece set to Mozart.

Both Crotty and Culp agree that this year’s Spring Dance will be spectacular.

“Each piece is so unique that everyone will be able to find something to connect to in some shape or form,” said Culp.

“I think this will be one of the most interesting and most diverse in terms of dance styles,” said Jeffery Woodruff, managing director in the School of Theatre and Dance.

Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for the general public. The show will be held at McGinnis Theatre and will begin at 8 p.m. today through Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.  

The show is full of unique elements so everyone will be able to connect.

The show is full of unique elements so everyone will be able to connect.