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 SRU dance department mixes with physics to defy gravity 



January 14, 2010

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab



SRU dance department mixes with physics to defy gravity         


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University Dance Theatre will move into the next decade with a mission to defy gravity at 8 p.m. Jan 28-30 when it presents its latest dance concert in Miller Auditorium.

           "Defying Gravity" features the work of three renowned guest artists as well as Teena Custer, SRU dance instructor and eight SRU student choreographers.

            SRU dance students worked with the guest artists during the last nine months. The artists are Natalie Desch Frank Chavez and Chad Michael Hall. Desch of the critically acclaimed Doug Varone Dance Company, spent 60 hours with students to set, coach and refine "Tomorrow," a suite of eight dances set to the French songs of Reynaldo Hahn.

            SRU music faculty, Nanette Kaplan Solomon, professor of music, and Colleen Gray, associate professor of music, will also be on stage to provide live accompaniment for "Tomorrow." Kaplan Solomon will play piano and Gray will be the vocalist for a suite of eight French songs by composer Rehnaldo Hahn.

            Jennifer Keller, associate professor of dance, said, "Performing dance to live music is a rarity, and it has been wonderful to see the student performers grow in their sensitivity to the live music and ability to respond to it."

     Chavez, artistic director of River North Chicago Dance Company, and his rehearsal director, Mari Jo Irbe, imparted their rhythmic syncopation for "Grusin Suite," an intricate trio of dances with a flare of classic jazz dance. 

Hall, a 2000 SRU graduate who served as a guest artist on campus, is a member of the Loyola Marymount University faculty. He will offer "Multiplex," a dance representing the concert's "defy-gravity" mission. Hall's work challenges the dancers to hurl and fall through space without concern for the gravitational forces acting on them.

            Also featured will be Custer's "Somebody's gonna luv u" - a 27-member dance bursting with her trademark vocabulary of hip-hop, b-boy and contemporary moves.  

Completing the program are eight student works, representing the emerging choreographers' possibilities. 

Todd Englander of Wantagh, N.Y., will present a multimedia solo. Sarah Lavalee of Canastota, N.Y., and Katilyn Grimes of Erie will partner with Englander and Brennen Cooper of Warren, in two duets. Bailey Bretz of Hilliard, Ohio, Kaitlyn Christensen of Rose Valley, Molly Hanlon of McKeesport and Marissa Lang of Beaver will present group works.

            Diverse aesthetics, signature athleticism and artistic sophistication are part of the evening program.

           Tickets are available at the SRU University Union Information Desk, or by calling 724.738.4926. Prices are $10 for general admission and $5 for SRU students with I.D. 


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.



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