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Brenau dance performance ‘will keep you awake'

Cirque du Soleil choreographer brings ambitious athletic program to faculty show

POSTED: March 31, 2011 12:30 a.m.
/For Get Out

Choreographer Jacques Heim, left, works with Brenau dancers for the faculty show set for Friday. Heim is the artistic director of a Los Angeles-based international-touring dance company and choreographer of the Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas.

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Brenau University will play host to a faculty dance concert this weekend featuring renowned choreographer Jacques Heim.

Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday at the John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts, Hosch Theatre.

The annual spring program, which showcases the talents of Brenau students and faculty, is open to the public. Tickets are $6, $4 for seniors and students.

Heim is artistic director of a Los Angeles-based international-touring dance company and choreographer of the Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas. Brenau dance majors will perform under his direction in a wide-ranging program.

Brenau Dance Department Chair Vincas Greene said Heim and his rehearsal director warned the Brenau dancers to begin a regimen of weight training, situps, pullups and pushups to prepare them for the new program.

"It is a modern dance, very athletic and very physical," Greene said. "There is a lot of running, jumping, sliding and rolling. We have not had something so contemporary and theatrical on our stage before. It is performance art - athletic, physical theater. We are doing so many new and exciting things under the dance umbrella that we have yet to invent the language with which we can talk about them."

Greene says he is thrilled to be reunited for the performance with Paris-born Heim, a classmate at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. But he said he is equally excited by other aspects of the program, which includes choreography by Emily Yewell-Volin of Atlanta and Christina Castro-Tauser of the Gainesville ballet junior company director.

All segments of the concert, he said, break new ground for the annual faculty review because of their scope and content, including one piece that unites the music, dance and theater departments at Brenau.

Heim founded his interdisciplinary Diavolo Dance Company in 1992. Its performances attracted attention of Cirque du Soleil, which commissioned Heim to choreograph "Ka," its show in Las Vegas, which has run since February 2005.

For the Brenau stage, Heim eschewed his usual giant architectural set pieces and adapted a portion of one of his works around a single work bench. But, as Greene said, "there is very little sitting involved."

The collaborative piece features work by Brenau faculty members Greene, Nikki Bybee and Jolie Long, musical work by faculty members Priscilla and Keith Jefcoat and costume design by theater professor Fred Lloyd.

"It is very interesting and abstract," Greene said. "There is a lot of humor in it. There is not a story line, but you can see the central theme."

Yewell Volin, a dance instructor at Agnes Scott College, developed a jazz piece for the program called "Queued." Greene explained that the piece is "about how everybody is on his or her own path and so busy that they have trouble relating to others - a process that's exhausting to us."

Castro-Tauser brings to the stage a work called "No It," an Afro-Brazilian dance which Greene calls a "really physical dance with a lot of stage movement." This reprises the Brenau group's performance in early March at the American College Dance Festival at Florida State University.

"This program will have lots of appeal for all dance enthusiasts in the Gainesville area and for people who may not be that familiar with the dance world," said Greene. "It definitely will keep you awake."



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