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Having a board on board helps People Dancing focus on just that

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Having a board on board helps People Dancing focus on just that




It’s good to know that People Dancing can now be people dancing instead of people writing press releases, finding ushers or hanging posters.

Those details, plus many others, have been taken over by fresh recruits - the troupe’s new board of directors.

“Having a board changes everything,” says company director Whitley Setrakian of the People Dancing board, which was formed last May. Board president Diane Rosenblatt, says Setrakian, is a real get-things-done kind of person, who won’t just take your word that something will get done but calls to make sure that it does. “She’s like everybody’s mom,” says Setrakian, “which is just what we need.”

The board is also helping with grant writing. Setrakian has received a Michigan Council for the Arts mini-grant in support of this weekend’s concert, the company’s first of the season, which will be presented at Performance Network Friday through Sunday.

The company is also planning, with the board’s assistance, more out-of-town touring, beginning with a December appearance at the Race Street Gallery in Grand Rapids.

All of the welcome assistance frees Setrakian to spend more time doing what she really wants to do - direct the company.

Most of last year’s troupe has returned intact with the exception of Lisa Dershin, who has moved out of state. Laurie Crum, the new sixth member of the troupe, will join Setrakian, Susan Cowling, Jeannette Duane, David Genson and Giles Brown this season.

On tap for the weekend’s concert are four premieres by Setrakian, a solo work by Brown, and selections from the company repertory.

“Rachel II, The Saga Continues,” is the second of a trilogy about the enigmatic heroine who, when last seen, was about to drown in her own stream of consciousness. That dance, “Rachel,” which combines words and movement in a way reminiscent of the theater of the absurd, was based upon the structure of the current short story genre. “Rachel II,” Setrakian says, uses science fiction as its structural model.

“Fair Ellender” (it may be renamed by concert time as “Waiting for the Preacher”) is a three-part work which will be performed to old Irish and Scottish folk ballads sung live by local vocalists Jesse Richards, Grace Morand and Cheryl Dowdy.

The songs, says Setrakian, are from a form of music indigenous to the South, known as sacred harp music. “It’s very rural, very deep south,” Setrakian explains. “People ride three hours to get to a church in the middle of the woods to sing all day.” The music has a nasal and raucous quality, a harshness that Setrakian hopes translates well in performance.

“It is my first impression of ferrets, knowing nothing about them,” says Setrakian of her new piece called “Ferretworks,” which she began by writing down the adjectives that the word ferret prompted. The result of all this ferreting out will premiere Friday accompanied by an original score by Terry Youk.

Friday’s performance will be followed by a masked ball to be held at the Network. The audience is invited to come to the concert in costume. Music, dance space and theatrical lighting will be provided and refreshments will be available.

People Dancing will perform Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. at Performance Network, 408 W. Washington St. Tickets are $6.50, $5 students and seniors. Call 996-5968 or 663-0681 for information.

Giles Brown is one of the people who dances.