The Performing Danscompany, representing the modern dance department at the University of Utah, will present a spring concert on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in Kingsbury Hall.
Works of five choreographers, two of them guests and the others teachers at the university, will be presented. These include "Lives of Poets" by Jerry Pearson, and "Four Poems from Pierrot Lunaire" by Sarah Stackhouse, both guest residents this quarter at the U. Also "The Bone People" by Phyllis Haskell; "Glances of Women" by Abby Fiat; and "Small Celebrations" by Loa M. Clawson.Jerry Pearson has danced with the Murray Louis Company, the Nikolais Dance Theatre, and Rudolph Nureyev and Friends. On his own since 1979, he has formed the Pearson Dance Company and performed, choreographed and taught nationally and internationally. "Lives of Poets," in multimedia with taped sounds, synthesizer, slides and poetic quotations, reflects his love of classical poetry and fiction.
Sarah Stackhouse danced with the Jose Limon Company for many years, has performed with Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Daniel Nagrin and Louis Falco Companies among others, and is currently dancing with Annabelle Gamson. Having taught at Juilliard, the American Dance Festival and many guest residencies, she is currently on sabbatical from SUNY at Purchase. Her "Pierrot Lunaire" excerpt grew out of a commission from the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, which will perform it this summer.
Phyllis Haskell, chair of modern dance at the U., has a varied background in modern dance, ballet and Broadway. She danced with Ririe-Woodbury and spent eight years on the dance faculty at the University of Hawaii, four as director, and also taught at the Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts.
Haskell's "Bone People" was inspired by a book of the same name by Keri Hulm. It draws upon various Asian and Pacific cultures and ethnic dance forms, with a score by Jon Scoville. Guest artists will be Matt Kjar, 11, and actor Kenneth Bass.
Loa Clawson, artistic director of PDC, has choreographed more than 50 major works, many for universities and professional companies around the country. Her many commissions include eight faculty research grants from the U., and most recently a faculty fellow for 1989 to pursue a film project about the modern dance department. Her "Small Celebrations," a premiere, combines the music of Stravinsky in nine very short celebratory dance sequences.
(BU) ABBY FIAT'S "Glances of Women" allows a number of women to "tell their story" in narrative form, then through abstract movement and improvisation, to maintain their characters' identity.
"This dance grew out of a class last winter, so I did things that I wouldn't have dared if I had known it would be danced at Kingsbury," said Fiat, a vital wisp of a woman. "I asked the girls to think of women that were powerful in their lives, then translate into short movement phrases, with narration, in both subjective and abstract movement. It's a sort of family portrait, with a sense of community."
Fiat was raised in Iowa and graduated from the University of Iowa at Ames, where she feels the teaching was exceptional, led by Betty Toman.
"We came to Utah because we were looking for a place to do graduate work, where we could get help, and my husband Jerry got a chance to coach football" at Brigham Young University, she said. (He's since gone into academic counseling in Park City schools.)
The upshot was eight years at BYU, where she earned a master's degree, taught and choreographed. She remembers fondly her association with Dee Winterton, with whom she danced and did many residencies. "He was so great," she said. "He used to ask, what do you want to teach this term? instead of telling me what I had to teach."
Fiat began working at the University of Utah in 1981, when she first did her popular summer seminar for high school dance teachers, dealing with technique, improvisation, and suitable repertory. This summer will mark the seminar's ninth consecutive outing, and she can't believe it's been so long.
Fiat also teaches at the Virginia Tanner Creative Dance Center, and she feels the phenomenon of Children's Dance Theatre is one of the things that keeps Utah unique. "The concept that dance for the child has a place in education has permeated Utah," she said. "A dancing child really perceives life differently. He sees form, texture, line all around him, and he listens, he tunes in, he is sensitive."
Fiat's first love is choreography, which she did "a lot" at BYU. Weber State College has several Fiat pieces, too. "It's so absorbing," she said, "and I try to train students in choreographic strength, not just technique, but a point of view. Every student at the U. is expected to take at least one technique class each quarter, and to work in choreography. This develops the independence to do things without waiting to be told, and to portray people that come to life."
Tickets for PDC concerts are $6, or $3 for students and senior citizens, available at the door.