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New Pieces to Premiere at Central PA Theatre and Dance Fest

by and on June 21, 2019 4:45 AM

The county’s most prolific professional choreographer will present new work at The State Theatre on Saturday, June 22.

Ann Van Kuren, artistic director of VanDance, will premiere two new pieces as part of the 2019 Central PA Theatre and Dance Fest.

“Refracting Shadows” will feature three works by Van Kuren and three works by Dmitry Myers, also a Centre County performer.

“He’s (Myers) really a nicely-trained dancer,” according to Van Kuren, “and he also studied circus arts in Canada.”

Myers, along with four other dancers, will appear in Van Kuren’s “Manifest of Souls.”

Set to Vivaldi’s “Magnificat in G,” the work explores metaphysical issues and how humanity aspires to divinity yet frequently falls short.

“We manifest our higher selves with compassion and our abilities,” Van Kuren said, “but at times we fall into despair or pity.”

Dance, she said, can express the entire range of human experience, including a person’s endeavor for good and the collapse into darkness.

In addition to herself and Myers, three more dancers will appear in this piece. Vicky McQuaide, Abby Wilson and Julia Snyder have all worked previously with Van Kuren. All VanDance performers show the strength, flexibility, expression and fluidity audiences have come to expect from this company’s presentation.

Wilson, Van Kuren and Julia Ostrowski will dance “Swan’s Unveiling,” a work first seen in 2015. Originally set for five dancers, this year’s work has a more focused approach. Van Kuren has utilized the heady mixture of fairies transformed into swans transformed into maidens, with feminine beauty as the underlying theme.

In the original folk tales, according to Van Kuren, “fairies would bathe in lakes to maintain their beauty, and would become swans. They would change from swans to maidens, leaving their veil by the lake.”

With this piece, she interprets the stories and pairs them to their essence.

“Sometimes women hear that beauty makes them valuable,” she said. “But that’s not a woman’s only asset.”

Another new piece, “This, and My Heart Beside,” will feature two actresses in addition to Wilson and Van Kuren. The work interprets the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Elizabeth Bagley will provide the voice of a young woman, while Stephanie Gates will present a more mature character. In the world of movement, Wilson will portray the younger character while Van Kuren will parallel Gates’ role. Van Kuren collaborated with Cynthia Mazzant, artistic director of Tempest Productions on this piece.

“I wanted to show how hope can triumph over darkness,” Van Kuren said. “But despair can always return.”

Rounding out the evening’s exploration of the human experience, Myers will present three original works.

“People get excited to see this tall, limber man actually dance en pointe in one piece,” Van Kuren said, “and in another, he has some cane-like apparatus that he balances on.”

Myers’ pieces, set to electronic, contemporary music, will contrast with the VanDance work. But Van Kuren sees how one will flow into the other.

“We have moments that touch the core,” she concluded, “through unique and creative work. He’s this other thing. We found a way to fuse and blend, leading to a different place.”

Tickets are available at The State Theatre box office. The curtain rises at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Ann is an Arts and Entertainment correspondent for the Gazette.
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