George Mason University’s Center for the Arts is the place to be tonight and Saturday night, when the Mason Dance Company performs works by four of today's most talented choreographers for The Gala Concert. Clifton resident Elizabeth (aka "Buffy") Price, artistic director for the program, is very excited about the concert, which will be danced on “an incredibly high level,” she noted.
Price, who is also the director of the School of Dance, has enthusiastic praise for Susan Shields, a talented dance professor at George Mason University (GMU). For eight years, Shields danced with the highly regarded Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, as well as Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project. Her “Sunlit Song,” which will open the concert, debuted at GMU in 2001.
It was danced at the 2004 Beijing International Cultural Tourism Festival by Mason dancers, and now the Fairfax audience has the opportunity to enjoy it. According to Price, the work is “energetic, brilliant, beautiful and crisp. It’s like a spring day. The dance begins, and 'Boom'! It’s spring!”
Ohad Naharin, an acclaimed choreographer from Israel, sent representatives of his Batsheva Dance Company to Fairfax to work with the dancers. Hosting these international guest artists was an honor, but it also signaled the growing reputation abroad of Mason’s gifted students. The extraordinary piece set on the company, “Ehad Mi Yodea,” was choreographed by Naharin in 1990. Its vibrant soundtrack was written by Tractor’s Revenge, a rock band, and is based on a well-known Passover melody.
Robert Battle is another prestigious choreographer who appreciates the ability of GMU’s dancers -- and, of course, the distinguished faculty. About to begin his new role as leader of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Battle was delighted to take a break earlier in the year from a performance at the Kennedy Center to rehearse the Mason students and to explain to them the history of “Promenade.”
“Promenade,” which was premiered by Battle in 2005, will astound the audience. At its debut, The Boston Globe characterized it as “a wickedly delightful deconstruction of manners.” Expect to see and be stunned by eight dancers who dance sedately as couples and then whirl into a riotous, untamed frenzy.
Lar Lubovitch, recognized by The New York Times as “one of the 10 best choreographers in the world,” has a close relationship with Mason dancers because of the years that Susan Shields performed with him. His beautiful “Dvorak Serenade” will be performed on Friday and Saturday. Marge Summerall, who is the program coordinator, explained that Lubovitch had assumed a major role in this production through master classes and auditions. Two of his dancers spent time at Mason, teaching and setting the dance on the students.
What can the audience expect from the “Dvorak Serenade”? School of Dance Director Buffy Price explains that “the piece is modern, but is danced classically. It is exquisite, lush, fluid and romantic. It is also challenging with complex spatial relationships.” The audience on Saturday can expect an additional treat. The evening begins with Shields' “Sunlit Song.” It will close with the “Dvorak Serenade,” and its creator, Lubovitch, will watch it from the best seat in the Center for the Arts.
Performances are at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Tickets to the 2011 Mason Dance Company Gala Concert are $20 adults, $12 students and seniors. To purchase tickets, please visit the Center for the Arts Box Office, open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., or charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit cfa.gmu.edu. The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K.