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Major Showing September 28 Detnoit Dance On Display

Major Showing September 28 Detnoit Dance On Display image
Parent Issue
Day
24
Month
September
Year
1976
OCR Text

In the last few years, Detroiters have developed one of the largest and most diverse dance communities n the U.S. That community will go on display Tuesday, September 28 at the foot of Woodward Avenue, when 10 dance companies from the Motor City celébrate Detroit DanCe Day at two special concerts held outdoors between Ford Auditorium and the Veteran's Memorial Building. Jazz, Modern, Ballet, Modern Afro-American, and Folk Dance will be included in both showings, which are scheduled for lunch hour (noon to 2 pm) and late afternoon (4 to 6 pm). The events, presented free of charge and sponsored by the Detroit Council for the Arts and the Detroit Metropolitan Dance Project n an effort to publicize the existence of Detroit's extremely active but largely unrecognized dance scène, represent the culmination of over 30 years' work on the part of dedicated dancers, choreographers, and teachers in the Motor City. Performing groups that will appear at the Detroit Dance Day festivities include: Dance Detroit, the resident company of Marygrove College, performing what choreographer Alana Barter describes as a "water piece" using the Detroit River and the new Dodge Fountain as a backdrop. Carol Marriseau's Detroit City Dance Company of the Concept East Theater, combining the Carribean flavor of Katherine Dunham's Modern technique with Carol's own distinctive Detroit experience. Harbinger (the company that recently moved from the Detroit Community Music School to a new self-contained studio at -75 Victor in Highland Park) which, directed by Lisa Nowak, will show off the results of five years of professional work. Meredith Campbell 's soups dance troupe, a Modern Dance company which evolved from the dance program at Northwestern High School. . Claire Carsman, presenting classical ballet solos. Writhrn Dance Company, adding "Shades of Blue," a duet directed by company founder Penny Goldboro. . The 14member Russian Ensemble of Detroit, one of the city's innumerable ethnic dance teams. Jean Raczkowski'sChildren's Dance Theater, exploring dance out-of-doors from a child's point of view. Many more giftecl and excttng dance companies also work and perform n Detroit and the suburban communities throughout the year. Some are professional, like the Clifford Fears Dance Troupe- which performed at the Detroit Homecoming extravaganzas this summer-and the elegant Nonce Dance Ensemble, directed by Denise Szykula. Some are amateurs. Derived from the Latín root meaning "to love," the word 'amateur' in no way implies a lack of quality or seriousness on the Detroit Dance scène- the performers work out of love for their craft, and they are highly developed. Becky Malm's Dance Alive from Birmingham, also performing September 28 at Dance Day, is one of these, and so are the Festival Dancers from the jewish Community Center, which received a 1974 grant from the Michigan Council of the Arts to develop a children's program designed to reveal the relationship between dance and 2Othcentury painting. The program, "Art Modes," sparked enthusiastic response n classrooms all over Detroit and the suburbs and represented one of the rare occasions when a dance group in the Motor City was able to procure public funding for any of its activities. Another non-professional group, the Renaissance Dancers, performs authentic English renaissance dances each year for the Wassail and Boar's Head feasts at Christmas time. Renaissance, Festival, and the Young Dancers Guild are all under the direction of instructor Harriet Berg, a prime motivating force on the Detroit Dance scène. Other important dance activities are presented by companies at Wayne State and Oakland Universities, as well as several fine ballet academies in town. Jesse Sinclair's dancers at ■ Kingswood were nvited to perform in Portugal a year ago, and one of his students was recently asked to join the Paul Taylor Company n New York. Marjorie Hassard began the Detroit City Ballet in 1958, and now it is an "Honor" company with the Northeast Regional Ballet Association. Rose Marie Floyd's Contemporary Civic Ballet Company was pleased to give some of its students to the Houston Ballet when it came to Detroit recen tly. Robert and Norma Taynton also have an excellent ballet school at 1987 W. Grand Blvd. in the city, which additionally serves as a museum of ballet memorabilia. How did Detroit inspire so much interest in dance? The origins of today's booming dance scène, according to many participants, lie in the Detroit Public School's physical education policios, which were considered downright revolutionary back in the 40's and 50's. Prudy Hoffman (who produced the first senior high dance concert at Northwestern in 1927) and Ruth Murray (who studied Modern Dance when it was introduced in the 30's) first put together a far-reaching Modern Dance section for the Modern Program of Physical Education, used as a curriculum guide in Detroit schools. Later, Ms. Murray (now a Professor Emeritus at Wayne State) headed the Women's sical Education Department at WSU, where she developed teachers to carry out her philosophies in the public schools. It didn't take long for Detroit schools to become the envy of school systems throughout the country, and hundreds of students were given invaluable groundwork in the field of dance that was to develop into the fine art of the 60's and 70's. Flowering in Detroit's ripefor-dance atmosphere is the Music Hall in downtown Detroit, which significantly added to the dance excitement here when it was opened by David DiChiera almost four years ago. Formerly the old Wilson Theatre, Music Hall has consistently presented top-flight companies from around the U.S. and the world. The theatre, which will present a six-concert dance series this year, is a primary reason that professional dancers now refer to Detroit as "Dance Capítol of the Midwest," and it has provided invaluable inspiration to local enthusiasts. A rather complete guide to the Motor City dance scène s Detroit Dances, published last year by the Detroit Metropolitan Dance Project with aid from the Michigan Council for the Arts. Detroit Dances lists dance companies, studios, teachers, and schools (both public and private) in the Detroit área and included related community organizations, universities, and church organizations. Detroit Dances can be obtained free of charge at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Main Library on Woodward, and the Music Hall. O Jennifer Pethick is Vice-President of the Detroit Metropolitan Dance Project.