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New wrinkle for Nectarine: 'The Destruction Ball-et'

New wrinkle for Nectarine: 'The Destruction Ball-et' image
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Bill Kopulos and his group VagrantMuse will do something a little, if not completely, different at the Nectarine Ballroom Thursday night.

New wrinkle for Nectarine: 'The Destruction Ball-et'


Attention, all you daring souls who love life on the artistic cutting edge. There’s something new coming to the Nectarine Ballroom Thursday night.

In a departure from its usual format of a disc jockey spinning records for dancing, the Nectarine will host “The Destruction Ball-et” beginning at 8 p.m., immediately preceding its regular Thursday night “new music” dance session with DJ Roger LeLievre, who is responsible for bringing in this new group.

It’s a piece of “performance art” which, to anyone unfamiliar with the term, refers to the fusion of a variety of art forms - music, dance, voice and video, in this case - into one presentation. For the occasion, the dance floor of the Ballroom will temporarily become an open theater for the VagrantMuse.

“VagrantMuse describes us just about now,” says Bill Kopulos, the leader of the small group currently wandering without a home. He says the trio that includes dancer Suzanne Willets and musician and vocalist Joseph Pratt in addition to himself may use the name only for this performance. That depends in part on the success of this show, which will also probably decide the future of such performances at the Nectarine.

Kopulos is responsible for the choreography and also composed about half the music, which includes “folksy guitar," synthesizer and primal music. At the same time, video will flash on the Nectarine’s huge screen, reflecting in turn what is happening onstage.

If it sounds a bit unorthodox, it is. But, then, so is Kopulos. Creating dances and composing music were not always his pastimes. Now, in addition to those activities, Kopulos teaches “life dance,” a holistic approach to dance that includes yoga, t’ai chi, and strengthening and breathing exercises, and also works at Ann Arbor restaurants Windows and the Spaghetti Machine.

One would be hard put to imagine a life more distant from the career in industrial engineering, doing time and efficiency studies, for which he was preparing at Western Michigan University for three and a half years.

During an unexpected interruption in his education, Kopulos became interested in dance, and when he enrolled at Eastern Michigan University, it was for classes in the Dance Division there.

Between the two schools, Kopulos has amassed 160 credits. He jokingly refers to the degree that he will receive in December from EMU as the “interdisciplinary Bill Kopulos degree.”

Kopulos has been greatly influenced by Harriet Payne, chair of EMU’s Dance Division, who shares his penchant for the avant-garde. Beside performing in Eastern’s concerts and in some of Payne’s own productions, Kopulos was a member of Denise Szykula’s Nonce Dance Ensemble in Detroit before it disbanded in the summer of 1985.

The idea for “The Destruction Ball-et,” Kopulos says, came from an independent study project he did at Eastern that combined movement and visual art using checks, as on a checkerboard, that grew into what he calls a dance painting.

“The Destruction Ball-et,” say Kopulos “is about destructiveness in society, the destructiveness that man creates.”

He says movement in the piece, which is 40 minutes long, is expressive, emotional, pedestrian and “modern dance is hiding in there somewhere. I’m sure.”

Rather than entertainment, he says, “It’s something to come and experience.”

VagrantMuse will perform 'The Destruction Ball-et,' Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Nectarine Ballroom, 510 E. Liberty St. Admission is $3 with no cover for the night at the club.