Arcs in Time

Arcs in Time

Choreography by Laura Dean and faculty Bill De Young, Missy Beck Matjias, Peter Sparling, and Robin Wilson

Department of Dance
January 29-February 1, 2009 • Power Center

The University Dance Company presents Arcs in Time. Headlining the concert is the first revival in twenty-one years of Impact by contemporary American choreographer Laura Dean. Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times declared “Impact is terrific…dazzlingly intricate in its integration of patterns and original movement. There is a thoroughgoing richness in the entire work.” The UM Percussion Ensemble plays Steve Reich’s “Sextet,” which was written expressly for this high energy work. Faculty member Amy Chavasse, who danced in the 1985 premiere, will restage the dance. Missy Beck Matjias creates a new work that is set to Schubert’s “Impromptu No.1 in c minor” and is played live by Christian Matjias. Door to the River, choreographed by Peter Sparling, features dancers set against a video backdrop of water surging over Ann Arbor’s Barton Dam during different seasons. A juxtaposition of human movement and the powerful forces of nature held in check by man-made restraints, the dance uses the sounds of the water as its musical score. Hokey Pokey Women and Honky Tonk Men by Robin Wilson is set to live music by the Creative Arts Orchestra. Inspired by the “wild woman” tradition in the blues, the work uses improvised dance, music, and vocalization to celebrate the individual’s ability to triumph over adversity. Bill DeYoung’s Thinking Twice is a work in four movements based upon the music, life, and writings of twentieth-century composer Stefan Wolpe.

Artistic Staff

Artistic Director: Jessica Fogel
Scenic Designer: Kasia Mrozewska
Costume Designer: Rebecca Baygents Turk
Lighting Designer: Mary Cole
Music Coordinator: Christian Matjias
Stage Manager: Nancy Uffner

Repertoire & Performers

[accordion title=”Signifying Nothing”]

Choreography by Missy Beck Matjias in collaboration with the dancers

Music by Franz Schubert, “Impromptu in C, Op. 90 – D899,” Performed by Christian Matjias
Assistant to the Choreographer: Amy Cova

Thursday/Saturday: Sarah Bezek, Daniela Blechner, Shanna Cruzat, Rachele Donofrio, Edith Freyer, Caitlin Grimes, Alyssa Krentzel, Briana Stuart, Jessica Trepka
Friday/Sunday: Chloe Aiello, James Cleary, Andrea Davis, GingerAnn Neslund, Thomas Roltsch, Colleen Shaughnessy, Kalila Kingsford Smith, Jessica Trepka, Morgan Wallace

[/accordion][accordion title=”Thinking Twice”]

Choreography by Bill DeYoung

Music by Stefan Wolpe: “Second Piece for Violin Alone” (1964), “Lento” and “Con Moto” movements from “Quartet for Trumpet, Tenor Sax, Percussion and Piano” (1950), and “Gesang, weil ich etwas Teures verlassen muss” (“Song, because I have to leave something dear”) from “Six Pieces for Piano” (1920)

Dancers: Cristina Calvar, Derek Crescenti, Elizabeth Dugas, Andrea Mathias, Julie Meehan, Gretchen Platt-Koch, Allegra Romita, Kimberly Sable, Sophie Torok, Emily Wanserski, Abby Zeitvogel

Choreographer’s Notes: Thinking Twice is a choreographic work in four movements based upon the music, life and writings of composer Stefan Wolpe. The title of the work is taken from a lecture of the same name that was presented by Wolpe at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1959. The lecture was edited by Austin Clarkson and is a featured chapter in the book entitled Contemporary Composers On Contemporary Music, edited by Elliot Schwartz and Barney Childs.

“One doesn’t need to sit on the moon if one can write a poem about it with the twitch of one’s senses. One is there where one directs oneself to be. On the back of a bird, inside of an apple, dancing on the sun’s ray, speaking to Machaut, and holding the skeleton’s hand of the incredible Cezanne — there is what there was, and what there isn’t is also. Don’t get backed too much into a reality that has fashioned your senses with too many realistic claims. When art promises you this sort of reliability, this sort of prognostic security, drop it. It is good to know how not to know how much one is knowing. One should know about all the structures of fantasy and all the fantasies of structures, and mix surprise and enigma, magic and shock, intelligence and abandon, form and anti-form.”
— Stefan Wolpe

[/accordion][accordion title=”Hokey Pokey Women and Honky Tonk Men”]

Choreography by Robin Wilson in collaboration with the dancers

Music by the Creative Arts Orchestra, Mark Kirschenmann, Director

Dancers: Abra Cohen, Marlee Grace Cook-Parrott, Logan McClendon, Francesca Nieves, Stephanie Overton, Austin Selden, Tara Sheena, Marly Spieser-Schneider (soloist), Nadia Tykulsker, Sadie Yarrington

Creative Arts Orchestra (performers may include):
Katie Battisoni (guitar), Justin Beroz (flute), Brett Chalfin (percussion), Kevin Connery (bass), Patrick Donley (piano), Joshua Holcomb (viola), Michelle Jorvath (harp), Cecelia Kang (clarinet), Richard Kim (viola), Mark Kirschenmann (trumpet), Miguel McQuade (percussion), Trevor New (viola), Eric Schindler (saxophone/clarinet), Kiana Weber (violin)

Choreographer’s Notes: Hokey Pokey Women and Honky Tonk Men gives a nod to the tradition of “wild women” in the Blues, as personified by the lives of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, and the “second line” brass band parades of New Orleans – traditions that celebrate individuality, strength of will, and fullness of life. We celebrate the resilience of the human spirit, its capacity for joy, and its refusal to bow down, give up or be held captive.

“You’ll never get nothing by being an angel child
You better change your ways and get real wild…
‘Cause wild women don’t worry,
wild women don’t get the blues.”
– Ida Cox, “Wild Women (Don’t have the Blues)” 1924

[/accordion][accordion title=”Door to the River”]

Choreography by Peter Sparling and cast

Soundscape by Erik Santos
Video by Peter Sparling
Additional Scenic Design: “Copper Waterfall” by Esther Kirshenbaum

Dancers: Amy Cova, Thayer Jonutz, Zari Le’on, Yu-ju Wei

Choreographer’s Notes: Borrowed from a painting by American Abstract Expressionist painter Willem DeKooning, the title for this work evokes an intersection with the forces of nature. Just as a hydroelectric dam harnesses and redirects a river’s flow, creating arcs of rushing water as snow and ice thaw and melt, so humans engineer their own sense of time into a series of interlocking tasks and functions: work. Both processes effect the scale of human to environment and create enormous reserves of pent-up energy, providing valuable resources for modern life but threatening to distort our relationship with nature as we horde it, pollute it, or section it off. How do we maintain a balance, or restore our lost sense of time in the natural flow of things? Is it possible?

[/accordion][accordion title=”Impact”]

Choreography by Laura Dean
Restaged by Amy Chavasse

Music by Steve Reich, “Sextet,” commissioned by the Dean Dance and Music Foundation and the French Government
Performed by members of the UM Percussion Ensemble, Joseph Gramley, Director

Original Lighting Design by Craig Miller
Lighting Design recreated by Mary Cole
Original Costume Design by Christina Giannini
Rehearsal assistance by Francesca Nieves

Soloists: Lara Martin (Thurs./Sat.), Francesca Nieves (Fri./Sun.)
Dancers: Chloe Aiello (Fri./Sun.), Catherine Coury, Amy Cova, Derek Crescenti, Megan DeShong (Thur./Sat.), Matthew Farmer, Thayer Jonutz, Sarah Konner, Lara Martin, Francesca Nieves, Kimberly Sable, Austin Selden, Tara Sheena, Marly Spieser-Schneider (Fri./Sun.), Emily Wanserski (Thur./Sat.)
Understudies: Daniela Blechner, Andrea Davis, Edith Freyer, Trina Mannino, Kalila Kingsford Smith, Morgan Wallace

UM Percussion Ensemble: Jeffrey Barudin (percussion), Dane Crozier (percussion), Christian Matjias (piano/synthesizer), Claire Ryan (percussion), Ian Sullivan (piano/synthesizer), Xavier Verna (percussion)

Restager’s Notes: After many years of informal conversations and discussions, Laura Dean entrusted me with restaging Impact, her powerful and memorable work which premiered in 1985. I performed in the opening at Brooklyn Academy of Music and at the final performances at NYC’s City Center – book-ending my exciting career with Laura Dean Musicians and Dancers. In the years after leaving her company and forging my own path as a dancer, choreographer and teacher, Laura offered unfailing support for my pursuits. Returning to her work, twenty-one years later, I have been overwhelmed by the degree to which her vision has shaped my own choices and aesthetic outlook. It is a terrifyingly wonderful pleasure to dive back into the considerable challenges of this dance – this time as a restager, mentor, and director. It is a gift to impart all that I learned from performing this beautiful work to my students. I’m guessing that it will leave as an indelible mark on their lives as it has on mine. Heartfelt thanks to Laura for letting us dance this amazing dance – and to the dancers for their indomitable spirit, commitment and tirelessness. Just think – you’ll always know how to spin now!

— Amy Chavasse



The restaging of Laura Dean’s Impact was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts’ American Masterpieces: Dance, initiative administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts with Dance/USA.

The School of Music, Theatre & Dance acknowledges the generosity of McKinley Associates, Inc. whose support has helped make this production possible.


[accordion title=”From the Artistic Director”]

This year our major concert embraces the idea of bridging past and present as inspiration for the works – thus our title, Arcs in Time. Performing history is key to the dances in the program and is part of a multi-stranded series of projects taking place in the Department over the course of two years.

Any dance in and of itself has a duration and therefore is an arc in time. Our evening’s title echoes the words of modern dance pioneer Doris Humphrey. She spoke about the “arc between two deaths,” a phrase that underpins her theory of movement, described by her as a series of falls and recoveries spanning arcs between chaos and rationality, between the inhalation and exhalation of a single breath cycle, between life and death.

Each faculty member contributing to this concert expresses the resonances between past and present in unique and personal ways. In restaging Laura Dean’s masterwork Impact, Amy Chavasse, as a mentor for her current students, reembodies her past as the leading soloist in the work, celebrating the central influence of her own earlier mentor upon her development as an artist. To create Thinking Twice, Bill DeYoung has expanded upon materials from his 1980 quartet of the same title, in which he also performed. Thus, he revisits his past work with an augmented cast and score, moved by the music and writings of a composer from an earlier generation while inspired by a new generation of dancers. In using landscape as metaphor in his work, Peter Sparling echoes the tradition of his mentor Martha Graham, who worked in this vein in such dances as Frontier and Appalachian Spring. In Frontier for example, the setting represents as much an emotional border as a physical one, just as the dam serves as concrete object as well as a symbol of mounting emotions in Sparling’s work. By generating movement, text, and music improvisationally with her cast of dancers and musicians, and reshaping personal stories of despair and triumph, Robin Wilson, too, is working in the modes of her mentors, referencing her past as a dancer with Urban Bush Women and Dianne McIntyre. Missy Beck Matjias bridges the Romantic music of Schubert with a contemporary dance language, finding her own arc between past and present. While drawing from the past, the choreographers propel their works into the twenty-first century by means of new technologies and fresh movement vocabularies.

Finally, Arcs in Time serves as a fitting lead-in to our upcoming June 10-14 celebration of a centennial of dance at UM, where we will perform the evolution of dance on this campus over the past 100 years, a most significant arc in time.

We hope you enjoy the performances.

— Jessica Fogel, Artistic Director

[/accordion][accordion title=”From the Chair”]

Welcome to Arcs in Time and to the public launch of a two-year Performing History initiative by the Department of Dance. Our aim is to celebrate the rich and diverse repertories of American dance, both past and present, and for this important and ever-evolving legacy to inform the future steps of today’s dancers. Arcs in Time brings together faculty and students from across the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. It’s been an incredibly demanding and exciting process – complex, occasionally chaotic, yet always executed with enormous dedication and cooperative spirit. On behalf of everyone on stage, in the pit and behind the scenes, we invite you to make history with us tonight.

— Angela Kane, Professor and Chair of Dance




Documenting the re-staging of Laura Dean’s Impact.



Posted on

December 5, 2018