39th annual Spring Dance Concert to be held at WOU

Spring Dance Concert poster

The annual Western Oregon University Spring Dance Concert will be held May 7 through 9 in Rice Auditorium on the WOU campus nightly at 7:30 p.m. The WOU campus is located at 345 Monmouth Ave. N. in Monmouth, Ore. Admission is $12 (general), $10 (seniors) and $7 (students).  For tickets and more information, please contact the Box Office at 503-838-8463.

Directed by dance professor Deborah Jones, the concert includes choreography by dance faculty, students, and this year’s guest artist, Chicago choreographer, Lauren Edson.  Jones said, “Every year the Spring Dance Concert reflects the unique imagination of each choreographer. Some dances reflect a collective experience, others touch our inner world, and still others focus on the pure joy and physicality of bodies moving through space together.”

Faculty choreography
Deborah Jones, dance professor, choreographed “Becoming.” Dedicated to students both past and present, “Becoming” is about finding your gifts and expressing the uniqueness of who you are. Darryl Thomas, professor of dance, choreographed “Men Dancing: Recycle,” which is athletic, gritty and in need of Febreze. “Men Dancing” discovers the joys of recycling. “Selfie,” choreographed by Valerie Bergman and Thomas, explores narcissism in our contemporary society by integrating images (selfies) and texts collected from the audience into the visual and kinesthetic elements of the dance.  Through their avatar (dancer) the audience will literally see themselves (their digital images and texts) leap, spin and twirl through space as we leverage technology to create an engaging dance theatre experience. “Kou Kou,” also by Thomas, is a rite of passage dance that originates from Guinea, West Africa and is danced among the Mandike and Sou Sou people. In Guinea young men and women are taken to the bush and taught the responsibilities of adulthood. When they return from their places of training they must dance the Kou Kou to show that they are ready to pass from childhood to adulthood. The Kou Kou will be performed at the Spring Dance Concert in honor of Jones, who retires in June. The final faculty choreographed piece is by adjunct dance faculty Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner, who created “All Together Now.” This is a jazz group work set to the sounds of French music maker St. Germain. Inspired by past and present day demonstrations of solidarity against oppression and violence world wide, the dance explores and celebrates the structures that bind us together and ignite power for change.

Student choreography
Jenni Bowker (Medford, Ore.), choreographed “Where the Wind Goes,” which explores the theme of wind through movement. “Journey Once Traveled” was created by Cy Higashi (Kaneohe, Hawaii) and is a piece about traveling, experiencing life, and seeking new opportunities. Jackie Lakeberg (Beaverton, Ore.), choreographed “Seconds to Infinity,” which looks at the abstract exploration of time and space with a numerical influence. “Left Unsaid,” choreographed by Naomi Olson (Astoria, Ore.), is a dance about the things left unspoken throughout our lives. It could be a goodbye never spoken, an argument left unresolved, or something you wanted to say to someone but never did. It is the haunting memory of those thoughts that we leave unsaid.  The final student work is “Take a Hike”, created by Rachel Britt (Keizer, Ore.). This piece reflects on Britt’s experience at WOU; the dance is a final farewell expressed through dance.

Lauren EdsonWhen You Go That Way,” a new work by Edson, is set to the hauntingly beautiful collection of songs by Andrew Bird. It explores our universal feelings of mortality and the depth to which those surrounding us impact our lives. Through vignettes of highly physical and pedestrian movement, seven individuals’ paths intersect on their journeys to self-discovery and purpose. An abstract and highly physical piece, “When You Go That Way” was taken on the road to Colorado to be performed at the American College Dance Festival. The dance will be performed by WOU dancers who auditioned for the opportunity.

Edson, originally from Boise, Idaho began her training at Ballet Idaho Academy and Westside Dance Academy (OR). She continued her formal studies at North Carolina School of the Arts and The Juilliard School, under the direction of the late Benjamin Harkarvy. She most recently danced with the highly acclaimed Trey McIntyre Project located in Boise, ID and was featured in several of McIntyre’s works. Her past professional experiences include Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Idaho Dance Theatre and Ballet Idaho. As a choreographer, she has won several awards and been commissioned by numerous companies and Universities throughout the nation. Her original choreography has appeared at Jacob’s Pillow’s Inside/Out Series, Ailey Citigroup Theatre, The Kennedy Center, On the Boards Seattle, Dance New Amsterdam, Conduit and The McCallum Theatre. In September 2013, she established lauren edson + dancers, which debuted to rave reviews.

Interview contact
Deborah Jones
Dance professor
503-838-8263 or jonesd@wou.edu