Aug. 03--LAS CRUCES -- It's a midsummer festival of music and dance.
Pan American Dance Institute joins the Las Cruces Symphony Chamber Orchestra and the New Mexico State University Dance Department join to present "Appalachian Spring" and "Carnival of Animals" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m.Aug. 10 at NMSU's Center for the Arts at University Avenue and Espina Street.
The event marks some historical firsts.
"The concert will be the chamber orchestra's and Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra conductor Lonnie Klein's first performance in the Center for the Arts. It will also be the first performance for the dance program with the chamber orchestra," said Debra Knapp, NMSU Dance Program director.
Knapp said the program offers a great showcase for dancers and state-of-the-art facilities at the Center for the Arts for those who have not yet had a chance to attend a performance there.
Klein will conduct Aaron Copland's famed score for the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Appalachian Spring" ballet, choreographed by Knapp and Ann Gavit, director of the Pan American Dance Institute.
"The ballet is set in Appalachia during the Depression era. This performance is an original choreographic version developed by Ann Gavit that tells the story of a young girl who upon the death of her mother is forced to leave school to care for her father and siblings. The story culminates with the marriage of her father and the introduction of a new mother, freeing the young woman to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher," said Knapp, who opines that the ballet is "a feast for the eyes and ears. This is a stunning example of how music supports story telling."
Themes and choreography were inspired by Klein's choice of music.
"Once he chose the music, we went from there. I did some research on the Depression to develop the story about a young girl who loves learning. It has some sad parts and some happy parts. I hope people will enjoy it," Gavit said.
"I'm excited about working with Debra and Ann and the dancers. The music is wonderful and I think it's going to be a lot of fun for us and for the audience," Klein said.
Acclaimed pianists Michael Bunchman and Dominic Dousa will perform for "Carnival of the Animals," the concerts' closing piece.
"This is a musical suite of 14 movements by French composer Camille Saint-Saens played by virtuoso pianists. Elephants, monkeys, birds and even dinosaurs are featured in this visually spectacular and humorous suite of dances," said Knapp, who predicts audiences "will be delighted with unique costumes," that include designs by Deborah Brunson.
"There are dinosaurs in the show, too, so we'll be recycling some costumes Deborah (Brunson) designed for Bob Diven's play, 'Extinction,' which are great," Knapp said.
Choreographers for "Carnival" include NMSU graduate and undergraduate dance majors, who will be among performers in the pieces, along with dancers participating in the Pan American Dance Institute's summer dance workshop Monday through Friday at NMSU.
"It's definitely a great family show," said Knapp.
She reports that each piece will feature from 20 to 25 dancers.
Proceeds from the workshop and performances will help fund Methods in Learning Kinesthetically, an outreach literacy program at Fairacres Elementary School that promotes learning through movement.
For tickets, at $20 for adults, $15 for students, and $5 for children under 12, or information, call 575-646-2070, or visit the NMSU Dance Program office, Rentfrow Gym, 3165 Williams Ave. or the Las Cruces Symphony office, second floor of the Atkinson Music Center, 1075 N. Horseshoe from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. If available, tickets may also be purchased at the door.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.
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