Dances of Passion

Choreography by guest artist Carlos Orta
with faculty artists Bill DeYoung, sandra Torijano and Robin Wilson
Poster Design by CAP Designs

February 1 - 3 at 8 PM
February 4 at 2 PM
Power Center

background | from our newsletter | press release

program | photographs

Background Information
Carlos Orta
Our guest choreographer, CARLOS ORTA, has been a member of the Jose Limon Company since 1979. He has danced with the Folkwang Ballett, the Tanztheater Wuppertal and the Cologne Tanz-Forum. As a choreographer, he has created works for the Tanz-Forum, the Netherlands Dance Theatre and the Limon Dance Company. In his native Venezuela, Mr. Orta has choreographed for the Ballet Nuevo Mundo, the Chamber Ballet of Caracas and Danza Hoy. The International Academy of Dance in Cologne awarded Mr. Orta the Audience Prize in 1975 and the Jury Prize in 1976 for his choreography. In 1983, Mr. Orta founded his own Venezuelan company, Coreoarte Dance Company with Noris Ugueto. In August, 1985, the Venezuelan government honored Mr. Orta with its highest artistic recognition, The Prize of Dance. Mr. Orta has been a member of the Dance Committee of International Theater Institute/UNESCO since June, 1995. Mr. Orta will create a new work for the University of Michigan Dance Company which is based on the visual aspects of Pablo Picasso's mural "Guernica." The work will use the music of Rene Aubrey ("Apres la Pluie") and Manuel de Falla ("Sketches of Spain").

Bill DeYoung and Sandra Torijano
Choreographers Bill De Young and Sandra Torijano team up to create "Rauxa/Seny" (in Catalan, creative abandon/good sense), which melds together their impressions of Spain from the origins of flamenco to the influence of Catalan, North African, and Arabic peoples on Spain's singular, romantic culture. Mr. De Young is spending a semester long sabbatical in Barcelona. He writes, "Everyday in Barcelona/Spain presents something new and compelling. The Flamenco music, in particular the singing, is so rich…I have started a collection of sorts with artists singing from their guts, kind of like blues, but with an Arabic innotation, sliding into North African scales. And the architecture of Gaudi with his philosophy of looking to natural forms, finding harmony and a plasticity never seen before in typical building materials. I want to pull all these indelible influences together." James Michener once wrote in the introduction to his book Iberia, "I have long believed that any man interested in either the mystic or the romantic aspects of life must sooner or later define his attitude concerning Spain. For just as this forbidding peninsula physically juts into the Atlantic and stands isolated, so philosophically the concept of Spain intrudes into the imagination." The passion and romance of Spain with its rich tradition of flamencos will come alive in this incredible collaboration.

Robin Wilson
Choreographer Robin Wilson creates a work celebrating the centennial birthday of jazz great Louis Armstrong. Trumpeter/singer Louis Armstrong was the seminal artist of jazz history - the first to combine trumpet virtuosity and an original musical vision with an entertainer’s sense of presence and persona. The result would make him the most influential instrumentalist of his generation, and bring him the respect and adulation of musicians of all eras to come, as well as a vast audience beyond jazz that has never stopped growing. In masterpieces such as "Stardust," "Sweethearts On Parade," "Lazy River," and many others, he helped lay the basis for the joining of jazz and popular music in the 30s, and set the parameters in which such players as Red Allen, Harry James, Roy Eldridge, Taft Jordan, Bunny Berigan, Dizzy Gillespie and others would work for the next 10 to 15 years. In November, 1925, he began recording under his own name and building the core work upon which his reputation as a major innovator (as opposed to a popular entertainer) would forever rest. These included the legendary Hot Five and Hot Seven sessions and the early years of big band records from 1929 to 1934. During this period, his trumpet style exploded from powerful New Orleans ensemble lead into a solo voice whose majesty seemed to soar with a voracious and ravenous splendor. There have been many virtuoso performers in jazz since Armstrong first came onto the scene, but nobody has matched his virtuosity or displayed a comparable level of commitment to jazz, a feeling for the blues, or such a simple and highly communicable joie de vivre. Louis Armstrong was unique.
exerpted from and Yahoo!Music. For more information on Louis Armstrong visit the Louis Armstrong House Online at

From our Newsletter
Creating Beauty from the Images of War
Our Power Center dance concert this year is called "Dances of Passion," and it will feature the choreography of Dance Department faculty Bill DeYoung, Sandra Torijano, and Robin Wilson, along with a new work by guest artist Carlos Orta. Bill and Sandra are creating a dance that reflects their impressions of Spain; they've just returned from a wonderful sabbatical in Barcelona, and that immensely cultural city has touched their imagination. Robin's work will be a tribute to the great American jazz master, Louis Armstrong, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his birth. A most intriguing contribution to our concert this season will be from our guest, Carlos Orta.

Mr. Orta is an internationally acclaimed dancer/choreographer. He has been a principal dancer with the Jose Limon Company for almost twenty years, and is currently the Artistic Director of the superb Coarte Danza Contemporanea, which is headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela. Orta will create a new dance for the U-M concert that is based on Pablo Picasso's masterful cubist mural, "Guernica."

Using "Guernica" as the visual basis for his composition is particularly germane to our concert-theme this year. "Guernica" is a painting about passion spelled with a capital "P." But, unlike the passion commonly associated with love, "Guernica's" passion is intimately linked to hatred.

"Guernica" was painted in response to the carpet bombing of a small town by fascist forces allied with Generalismo Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. On April 26, 1936, German bombers wiped out the Basque village of Guernica. It was a market day, so casualties were enormous. Shortly afterwards, Picasso (an ardent Republican) was aroused to paint — on one massive canvas in brutal black and white — his inspired damnation of the event. Picasso's work depicts a world torn apart by violence: shrieking women clutch lifeless babies, fragmented body parts litter the cluttered ground, and innocent livestock bray insensibly in dumb terror through the black, fiery night.

In ironic (and sublime) contrast to "Guernica's" horror, Mr. Orta will fill the Power Center stage with the beautiful language of movement. Lithe and expressive dancers will reconstruct the emotional world contained within Picasso's image of carnage and terror. This commingling of aesthetic currents will be supported by the dramatic and mysterious Iberian melodies of Manuel de Falla, coupled with the contemporary musical visions of French composer Rene Aubrey. When we join Orta's "Guernica" with DeYoung/Torijano's Catalonian-inspired dance, and Wilson's tribute to the greatest New Orleans jazzman who ever lived, we have what promises to be a tour de force performance.

Press Release
The University of Michigan's University Dance Company presents rhythm and heat during its concert, "Dances of Passion." This evening of modern dance will run for four performances from February 1st through February 4th at the Power Center for the Performing Arts in Ann Arbor. Exploring the different types of passion from hatred to romance are guest artist Carlos Orta and three faculty choreographers, Bill DeYoung, Sandra Torijano, and Robin Wilson, in a trio of dances featuring undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Dance.

Internationally renowned dancer and choreographer Carlos Orta joins the Dance Department to create "Breaking the Silence," a somber and masterful dance based on Pablo Picasso's famed wartime mural Guernica. "I first saw the mural two years ago on a trip to Madrid," states Orta. "The power of the artist's work drew me back every day for a week, each time discovering a new element in the mural." Orta's dance recreates various tableaus from the mural, utilizing the dominant figures of the Mother, horse, and bull. The work is broken into "rooms" similar to the painting. Using a combination of bodies and sticks, Orta builds on the cubist forms that Picasso used to convey the passions of war and hatred. Underscoring this highly spiritual work is the music of Paco Pena, Miles Davis and Rene Aubry.

This concert will be the world premiere of the completed "Breaking the Silence." Orta had previously set pieces of the dance on the Jose Limon Company, with whom he has been a principal dancer and choreographer since 1979. He is the founding artistic director of the Coreoarte Dance Company based in Caracas, Venezuela. In August 1985, the Venezuelan government honored Mr. Orta with its highest artistic recognition, The Prize of Dance. He has set works on the Netherlands Dance Theatre, Ballet Nuevo Mundo, the Chamber Ballet of Caracas, and the Cologne Tanz Forum.

Teaming up for the next dance called "Rauxa" (pronounced Row - sha) are Bill DeYoung and Sandra Torijano. Drawing on their impressions of Barcelona and the Catalan region of Spain after a sabbatical there, the pair has created a dance celebrating the juxtaposition of separate realities. "Two things guide a Catalan: seny - common sense and rauxa - creative chaos," states DeYoung. "The community recognizes the need for outlets of this chaos through a constant stream of festivals and protests. These layers are evident in all cities of the world including our hometown, but we notice them more when we travel. We all strive for what the Spanish call duende - that shimmering moment in artistic expression when passion is not held in check. The opportunities to experience those shimmering moments and the times when we regress away to take care of the business of life become all the gradations of passion." DeYoung and Torijano have pulled music from all areas of Spain, from new works of techno dance music to more traditional flamenco.

Choreographer Robin Wilson celebrates the 100th birthday of Louis Armstrong in "Hot Five Rondo." "Armstong was one of the greatest innovators of Jazz whose profound influence is still evidenced today. His music celebrates life in a very passionate, joie de vivre way," states Wilson. Using vernacular forms of dance from the 1930s in combination with a film noir story of a crime of passion, Wilson weaves a tapestry of murder, mayhem and melody. "The work is a tribute to black artists of the '30s, such as the ballroom couple Norton and Margo and the Nickolas Brothers, who helped create and popularize the social dances of the period, like soft-shoe, hoofing, the Charleston, the Suzy Q, the Shorty George, and the Lindy Hop. Oftentimes these dances are devalued because they are part of the popular vernacular, but people forget the incredible technique and skill needed for the dances." Wilson has set her dance to such Armstrong favorites as "Mahogany Hall Stomp," "Stompin' at the Savoy" and "I've Got a Heart Full of Rhythm."

Chicago designer Jeff Bauer creates scenery and costumes for all three works. His designs were last seen in the UM Opera Theatre's production of "Susannah." Lighting designer Mary Cole continues her long-time association with the dance department.

Ticket prices are $20 and $15 with students only $7 with ID. Tickets are available at the League Ticket Office, located within the Michigan League on UM Central Campus. The Ticket Office is open from 10am - 6pm, Monday through Friday. Reservations may be made by phone at (734) 764-0450 using MasterCard, Visa and Discover.

The Power Center for the Performing Arts, located at 121 Fletcher Street, is handicapped accessible and equipped with an infrared listening system for hearing enhancement.

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Click here to view the Dances of Passion program as a PDF file

Production Photographs
Choreography by Bill DeYoung and Sandra Torijano

Hot Five Rondo
Choreography by Robin Wilson

Breaking the Silence
Choreography by Carlos Orta