POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—On Saturday February 26th at 8pm and Sunday February 27th, at 3pm, the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre will present its 29th Annual Gala at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House located at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, NY. The Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre (VRDT) is directed by the Australian-born John Meehan, who has been a member of the international dance world as a performer, teacher, choreographer and an artistic director for the past 40 years. The program will consist of 11 works choreographed by faculty, student, and guest choreographers. Tickets are $11 for general admission; $9 for seniors, Vassar students, and the Vassar community. These are available for purchase in person on the Vassar campus and at the Bardavon Box Office, as well as by phone or online through Ticketmaster (see details below).
“The dance theatre’s celebration of Vassar’s sesquicentennial year at this annual gala will be a memorable one,” remarked VRDT director John Meehan. “Our line-up of talented choreographers from established dance companies in New York City who have set pieces on dance theatre members, include former New York City ballerina Miriam Mahdaviani who has choreographed a piece commissioned for Vassar’s 150th anniversary.”
The Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre will perform eleven works at the gala, including two by guest choreographers.
- Miriam Mahdaviani, who for many years graced the stage of New York City Ballet and has choreographed with distinction since retiring from dancing, has created “Between the Lines” for the company. This piece, a jazzy balletic duet, is set to George Gershwin’s Three Preludes, arranged for piano and violin. “Between the Lines” was commissioned to celebrate Vassar’s Sesquicentennial celebration. Last semester Mahdaviani served as a visiting dance professor at Vassar.
- “Caffeinated,” a high-energy, high-spirited work, that is the first piece by popular New York choreographer Larry Keigwin to be presented by VRDT. Meehan noted that this is a perfect work for a college dance company, as “Caffeinated” reminds us how important a cup of java can be to the intense schedule of many a Vassar student.
- Choreographer David Fernandez, who is also based in New York City, has re-worked his “White Shirt Black Tie Black Pants” for the talented ballet dancers in this year’s company. Set to familiar music by Bach, Fernandez’s work features five women and combines contemporary ballet vocabulary with casual chic fashion.
In addition, Vassar faculty members have created new works for the company.
- Steve Rooks, the VRDT resident choreographer and Chair of the Dance Department, has made a dramatic modern piece entitled “Hidden Folk/Dance,” set to the music of celebrated contemporary American composer Lou Harrison and based on an “abstract” of two scenes from the life of Oskar Schindler.
- Kathy Wildberger, the assistant director of VRDT, has created “Redhawk,” a piece inspired by the spirit of the Red Tailed Hawk. Meehan noted that this work has overtones of emotion and sensitivity that will place the viewer between two worlds. “Redhawk” features original music by multi-talented Vassar graduate and VRDT alumus Max Hershenow ’10.
- Abby Saxon, adjunct instructor in dance, has joined with her frequent collaborator alumna Martha Ross Tobias ’83 to restage Danny Buraczeski’s jazz masterpiece “Swing Suite,” set to music of Benny Goodman. This piece is returning to the VRDT repertoire by popular demand and is an example of jazz choreography at its most beguiling.
- Using music of the Talking Heads entitled Burning Down the House, dance faculty members Abby Saxon, Kathy Wildberger, Steve Rooks and John Meehan have joined together with all of the students, especially Caitlyn Lamdin ’11, to create “Burning,” a spirited finale for the gala performances.
Five student choreographers,who are members of the class of 2011, have created four new works for VRDT gala performances this year. These include “Cacophony” by Caitlyn Lamdin, “Full Circle” by Amanda Sugino, “Ed” by Stephen Xue, and “Fantasize” by Brianna Clark and Dana Christy (BCDC).
About Tickets and Reservations
Tickets are available on the Vassar campus at the information desk in the College Center of Main Building and the Department of Dance Office in Kenyon Hall. Tickets are also available, in person, at the Bardavon Box Office (35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie, NY) and by phone or online through Ticketmaster: (845) 454-3388 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venue/10. Tickets are $11 for general admission; $9 for seniors, Vassar students, and the Vassar community.
About the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre
The Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre is the resident company of the Vassar College Department of Dance. Since 1983, the VRDT gives dance students of Vassar College the opportunity to perform classic dance works from the ballet and modern repertoire as well as new choreography by faculty, guest artists, and the students themselves. By allowing students the freedom to create, develop, and present their own new dance works under the guidance of recognized artists in the field, VRDT provides a unique dance experience for the company as well as audience members.
The members of the 2010-11 Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre company are as follows: Charlie Biers ’13, Emma Burke ’14, Jeremy Busch ’14, Dana Cass ’11, Dana Christy ’11, Brianna Clark ’11, Eleni Dembo ’13, Mallory Easton ’11, Mike Graceffa ’13, Katharine Gripp ’13, Kelly Harrington ’14, Brian Heil ’14, Thomas Hochla ’13, Michaela Kleber ’11, Isabella Kosmacher ’14, Nicole Krenitsky ’11, Jenna Kronenberg ’13, Caitlyn Lamdin ’11, Max Lapides ’14, Simone Levine ’13, Desiree Melendez ’13, Katrina Newman ’13, Niya Nicholson ’14, Matt Ortile ’14, Brittany Ouyang ’11, Chelsea Peterson-Salahuddin ’13, Juliana Rodzinski ’14, Alex Spyropoulos ’11, Amanda Sugino ’11, Anna Wilen ’13, Stephen Xue ’11.
About the VRDT Director John Meehan
John Meehan was a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet and the American Ballet Theater. He was also a frequent guest artist with the New York City Ballet and National Ballet of Canada, and toured with Stars of World Ballet. He has partnered many of the world’s great ballerinas including Dame Margot Fonteyn, Natalia Makarova, Merrill Ashley, Gelsey Kirkland, Cynthia Gregory, Karen Kain and the Australian ballet stars Marilyn Rowe and Marilyn Jones. He has choreographed ballets for The Australian Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Washington Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Company, and Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Meehan was also the artistic director of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The American Ballet Theatre Studio Company (now ABT II), and the Hong Kong Ballet. Before taking his current position at Vassar, Meehan was a visiting professor of dance at the college from 2005 to 2006.
About the Department of Dance
The Department of Dance offers a non-major, elective course of study at Vassar. The faculty consists of three full-time professors (Jeanne Periolat Czula, John Meehan, Stephen Rooks), one full-time lecturer of dance and drama (Katherine Wildberger), and one part-time jazz instructor (Abby Saxon). Dance’s resident lighting designer, David Ferri, lights all dance department productions. There are three adjunct artists who serve as accompanists and who compose, direct, and sometimes perform with the student company, the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre, which is directed by John Meehan (http://dance.vassar.edu/).
Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.