News Column

For the Big Muddy Dance Company, the heat is on

June 19, 2014

By Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

June 19--Since its debut concert in 2011, the Big Muddy Dance Company has become one of the most popular dance ensembles in St. Louis.

Just last month, its performance of choreographer Harrison McEldowney's "Group Therapy" was one of the highlights of the Spring to Dance Festival, with the Post-Dispatch praising the company's "wit, grit, elegance and attitude." And last year, Big Muddy topped the Go! List as the readers' choice for best local dance company.

"We never want to bore people, we never want to confuse people," says Paula Young David, artistic director of Big Muddy. "We want to invigorate people, and I guess we're doing it."

This weekend, the company will return to the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center with "Summer Soiree: Hot Dancing and Cool Treats" -- a program of new pieces and Big Muddy favorites.

The program will feature the world premieres of "Morgan's Waltz" by Brian Enos and "Most Glorious Opening No. 5, Hold Frosting" by company dancer Thom Dancy. Also included in "Summer Soiree" are McEldowney's "Group Therapy," Adbur-Rahim Jackson's "Hardest Button to Button," Geoffrey Alexander's "Chasing Utopia," Dancy's "Stolen Season" and Lou Conte's "The '40s."

"Morgan's Waltz" is a showcase for Big Muddy's Morgan Cameron and Dancy.

Enos "came in and set this pas de deux on her (Morgan) and Thom, as a gift from my husband and I," David says. "So it's kind of special."

As Big Muddy looks ahead to its fourth season, the company has already established ongoing relationships with a strong roster of choreographers, she says. It's all about nurturing a creative environment in which the synergy between the choreographer and the dancers is enhanced.

In pursuing that approach, David says, she was influenced by her years as a performer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, which was founded by choreographer Lou Conte.

David learned from Conte not to compromise "in any way. Even the buttons on the '40s costumes had to be just right. The costumes were always ironed and pressed and crisp, and the shoes had to look right. 'The dance is in the details,' he'd always say."

But what happens when the dancing is done? At the Touhill this weekend, that's where the "cool treats" come in.

"The show is about an hour and a half long, so we'll have time to party afterwards," David says. "There'll be complimentary cocktails and ice cream, and the dancers will all be there."

What The Big Muddy Dance Company: "Summer Soiree: Hot Dancing and Cool Treats" -- When 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday -- Where Lee Theater, Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center, University of Missouri-St. Louis, 8001 Natural Bridge Road -- How much $22; discounts available -- More info 314-516-4949 or


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Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

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