Slippery Rock slides into modern dance
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It's a little odd to head up north to the college country along Interstate 79 and find a hotbed of modern dance. But Nora Ambrosio's Slippery Rock University dance department is steadily growing, now with approximately 100 dance majors and 50 dance minors.
It is a program based on performance and choreographic opportunities for the students, with a strong emphasis on dance technology and alternative wellness classes for the dancers.
Generally the year begins with a faculty and guest artist concert, which was presented this week at Miller Auditorium. This year's program was surprising for its content, with subjects that gave a serious and intellectual take on modern dance. Yet there were more than 600 faculty and students in the audience.
The threads of the dance department were apparent. There were guests like Tom Truss, formerly of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, who asked, "Why are you still here?" in a smart, if long solo. And Latina Project provided an intense portrait, "New Moon Over Juarez," which called attention to the large number of unsolved crimes against women in one of Mexico's largest cities.
Alumna Teena Custer performed in a Chinese-inspired dance/drum work called "The Spirit of the Drum" with Shih-Ming Li Chang. But the rest was all home-grown.
Nola Nolen Holland conceived "Transmission: Part I and II," which drew faculty members and students together on stage to depict the importance of the teaching process, and Indian dance artist Jaya Mani demonstrated her wares in "Thillana."
Particularly effective were Melisa Teodora's whimsical duet for Todd Englander and Nicole Russ about missed connections, and Jennifer Keller's reflective collaboration with a live quartet and cloud-like video design. Ursula Payne provided a powerful conclusion by performing with a group of students delving into the socio-political overtones of the African-inspired "Womenfolk: Swimming Upstream 2006."
First Published October 28, 2006 12:00 am