The Muhlenberg College dance program will present seven original works by seven celebrated choreographers in its “In Motion” concert, March 31 – April 2 in the college’s Empie Theatre. The performance includes “Running Spirits,” a piece by renowned guest artist Fredrick Earl Mosley, this season’s Baker Artist-in-Residence, supported by the Dexter F. & Dorothy H. Baker Foundation.
An internationally known performer, educator, and choreographer, Mosley is the founder and artistic director of Diversity of Dance. In addition to staging work for “In Motion,” Mosley spent much of the semester on campus, working on his collaborative project “Unconquered,” which was performed this March and teaching workshops for teenagers in the Lehigh Valley.
“In Motion” also features works by six Muhlenberg dance faculty: Heidi Cruz-Austin, an alumna of the Pennsylvania Ballet; Karen Dearborn, founder and chair of Muhlenberg’s dance program; Megan Flynn, artistic director of Megan Flynn Dance Company; Natalie Gotter, a former dancer with Tsunami Dance Company; Randall Anthony Smith, a former dancer with Armitage Gone!; and Robyn Watson, tap dance instructor for Broadway’s Shuffle Along. Cruz-Austin and Dearborn serve as the concert’s artistic directors.
“As a co-artistic director, what I’m trying to do is honor the choreographers’ visions,” Cruz-Austin says. “I want to bring their creativity and what they want to present on the stage with their movement to the forefront of the show.”
Robyn Watson will premiere a new suite titled “Moving Moods,” which follows a journey through the history of tap in four sections, each referencing the dance’s origins and evolution.
“It deals with deconstructing the narrative of what many of us have assumed tap dance is,” Watson says. “The hope is that the audience will get a kaleidoscopic view of what tap is, and its presentation with and without music.”
Natalie Gotter is creating a modern piece titled, “I’m Looking for You,” inspired heavily by Stephen Petronio, LaLaLa Human Steps, and other artists exploring gender, physicality, and sexuality in the 1990s.
“This piece examines a specific moment of choice,” Gotter says. “This moment pushes and pulls us, can bring us to safety, bring us to exhaustion, or introduce us to experiences we would never have otherwise known.”
Heidi Cruz-Austin is creating a new piece in which the aesthetics of classical and contemporary ballet share the stage. She says the work is a reflection of her personal artistic leanings, including her love for the musical compositions of Chopin. The piece will be accompanied live on piano by musician Holly Roadfeldt.
“There’s a lot of contradiction within the piece,” Cruz-Austin says. “But to me the contradictions just make sense. I keep telling myself, ‘You don’t always have to do things the way they’ve been done.’ I’m following my instincts and carving my own path in this traditional ballet aesthetic.”
Megan Flynn is creating an original work in collaboration with a cast of 14 dancers, inspired by her summer 2021 research as a choreographer-in-residence at the ImPulsTanz: Vienna International Dance Festival.
“I am delighted to be working with guest lighting designer Leslie Lura-Smith,” Flynn says. “Portable lighting fixtures are incorporated into the choreography and serve to illuminate the themes of embodied memory, construction of personal narrative, and how we choose to reveal different parts of Self.”
Karen Dearborn has created a dynamic ballet piece that is set on 11 dancers. Titled “Embers,” the piece incorporates a dynamic duet performance as well as unified ensemble movement.
Randall Anthony Smith is creating a work titled “R.A.I.N.B.O.W.” The piece is a celebration of human experiences and the sharing of love, joy and understanding through our differences.
“This work has challenged me to constantly be aware of ‘How do I want to truly Live and be with others like and unlike me?'” Smith says. “For me, I would rather cultivate happiness. We can do beautiful things when we work together instead of against one another.”
“In Motion” runs March 31 – April 2 in the Empie Theatre, in the Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.
Performances are Thursday and Friday, March 31 – April 1, at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, April 2, at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for patrons 17 and under; and $8 for students, faculty, and staff of all LVAIC colleges.
Tickets and information are available at 484-664-3333 or muhlenberg.edu/seeashow
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