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SMU Meadows Dance Ensemble Presents 2012 Spring Dance Concert, Mar. 28-Apr. 1

Featuring world premiere by Meadows Prize winner Shen Wei

The Meadows Dance Ensemble at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts will showcase works by three award-winning choreographers at its Spring Dance Concert, March 28-April 1 in the Bob Hope Theatre of the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. Featured will be Five Preludes, a ballet by visiting artist-in-residence Adam Hougland; Song Awakened by SMU faculty member and noted jazz dance artist Danny Buraczeski; and The New You, a world premiere by Meadows Prize winner Shen Wei.

The concert opens with the premiere of Five Preludes, a neo-classical ballet on pointe set to five Rachmaninoff preludes. The work focuses on purity and simplicity of technique and is rooted in the inherent drama of Rachmaninoff’s music. Choreographer Adam Hougland, a Dallas native, is principal choreographer for the Louisville Ballet and resident choreographer for the Cincinnati Ballet. He has won both the Princess Grace Award and the Choo-San Goh Award for choreography and was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to watch” for 2011.

Next on the program is Song Awakened, a sparingly elegant, richly detailed work set to the songs of Cesária Évora, a noted singer of Creole-Portuguese soul music. The work debuted to critical acclaim at New York’s Joyce Theater in 2001; The New York Times wrote that Buraczeski “makes his dancers voiceless musicians who use their bodies, alone and together, to add rhythms to (Evora’s).” The piece is presented in tribute to Ms. Évora, who passed away in December at age 70. Buraczeski, a nationally known jazz choreographer, has received commissions from such organizations as the Walker Art Center, the Library of Congress, and the American Dance Festival. He also has received multiple fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, for whom he is now a regular panelist/consultant.

Following intermission, the concert will feature the world premiere of The New You by Shen Wei, internationally renowned choreographer, director, dancer, designer and artistic director of New York-based Shen Wei Dance Arts. Shen Wei won the 2010 Meadows Prize from the Meadows School of the Arts, and created the interdisciplinary work from the ground up during his three-week Meadows Prize residency in January-February 2012.

The work includes nine dancers, two musicians, two actors, two art students and a computing- projection student. It is built on a code based on the numbers 0-30. Each number has its own “location” in space, and each dancer has created her own vocabulary of movements for each number. The numbers also correspond to letters of the alphabet; at one point the actors call out the numbers that make up a person’s name, and the dancers are able to then literally dance the name.

Shen Wei gave the dancers a particular assignment for their own names: after they created movement for the letters in their name, he had them write their signature in cursive, and told them to let the physical flow of their signature influence the way they danced the letters in their name. As a result, each dancer translated her own signature in dance movement.

In addition, the numbers correspond to musical notes played by the two musicians, a pianist and a cellist. In other parts of the work, artists fling and smear paint on a numbered Plexiglas sheet; dancers wear cameras that project images of those around them; and each dancer’s name is projected in a particular color of paint, in which the dancers dip themselves and then roll down a ramp.

“This work is about audiences experiencing new possibilities by building and revising systems that are sensed, but not necessarily known,” said Shen Wei. “Art opens doors we never thought had existed and enables us to access previously unknown dimensions. By sensing different art forms, audiences can discover novel structural foundations and embark on a new journey. I hope this experience can offer the students and the viewers an alternative possibility of space.”

Spring Dance Concert performance times are 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for students, SMU faculty and staff. Free parking is available at Hillcrest and Binkley or in the garage under the Meadows Museum. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 214-768-2787 or click here.

About the Choreographers
Born in Hunan, China, Shen Wei studied Chinese opera from the age of nine. In 1991, he became a founding dancer and choreographer of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the first modern dance company in China. Upon receiving a scholarship from Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab in 1995, Shen Wei moved to New York City. In July 2001, he formed Shen Wei Dance Arts with performances of Near the Terrace at the American Dance Festival.

Shen Wei has received numerous awards for his artistic work, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the U. S. Artists Fellow award, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Nijinsky Award, and Australia’s Helpmann Award for Best Ballet or Dance Work, and was recognized twice by The New York Times for creation of one of the year’s best dance performances.

Shen Wei has received 12 commissions from the American Dance Festival and others from Het Muziektheater, the New York City Opera, the Lincoln Center Festival, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, and Teatro Dell’Opera di Roma for a restaging of Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto, conducted by Riccardo Muti. Shen Wei was lead choreographer for the Opening Ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and in 2011 he was commissioned by the Edinburgh International Festival and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Shen Wei is also the first choreographer to be honored as a Park Avenue Armory Artists-in-Residence fellow, which culminated in a triple bill program that included the landmark premiere of his new site-specific work commissioned by Park Avenue Armory, Undivided Divided, alongside the restagings of Folding and Rite of Spring.

Shen Wei was recently selected as a fellow for New York City Center’s inaugural Choreography Fellowship Program, a new initiative launched in conjunction with the theater’s reopening season following a major restoration of the historic venue. As part of the fellowship, Shen Wei Dance Arts will enjoy New York City Center as its home for 2012.

Danny Buraczeski is a professor of dance at SMU teaching classic jazz dance technique, composition and choreography. His work as a classic jazz stylist for over two decades has traced a clear and deep investigation of jazz, its sources and its ongoing evolution. After a career on Broadway appearing in such musicals as Mame with Angela Lansbury and The Act with Liza Minnelli, he founded the original New York City-based JAZZDANCE in 1979. Based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul from 1992-2005, the company performed at leading concert halls and festivals in more than 35 states and in Europe, Russia and the Caribbean. Buraczeski’s choreography has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center, the Joyce Theater, the Library of Congress, the American Dance Festival, the Bates Dance Festival and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. He was a recipient of a 2003 McKnight Fellowship in Choreography and was a 2004 Bush Foundation Fellow. Buraczeski was named Artist of the Year in 2000 by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He has received multiple fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, for whom he is now a regular panelist/consultant.

Adam Hougland, choreographer, is a native of Dallas who began his dance training at the Dallas Conservatory of Ballet and the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. In 1999 he received his B.F.A. in dance from The Juilliard School and then performed with the Limón Dance Company, Toronto Dance Theatre and Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. While at Juilliard Adam choreographed his first group dance, Beyond, which won the Hector Zaraspe Prize for Choreography and became part of the repertoires of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, the Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Met Columbus and the Louisville Ballet. Hougland has created original works for Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, the Limón Dance Company, Cedar Lake Ensemble, The Washington Ballet and Ballet Memphis. In 2006 he created a world premiere for Juilliard’s centennial celebration that toured to Chicago and Los Angeles and was broadcast on the PBS Live from Lincoln Center series.

He has won the Princess Grace Award for Choreography, the Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography and a New York State Council for the Arts Commissioning Grant. He was one of Pointe magazine’s “10 VIPs of 2006” and was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to watch” for 2011. He is currently principal choreographer for the Louisville Ballet and has created five critically acclaimed original works for the company. In 2009, Hougland was named resident choreographer for the Cincinnati Ballet and has since created a new evening-length Mozart’s Requiem and a new Firebird for the company.

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