Meadows Dance Ensemble brings Hope to spring

Updated March 27:

I have a bad track record with the performing arts. When we would watch cheap community theatre in elementary school, I struggled not to walk out in the middle, break wind or do both at the same time. Coming into college, none of that really changed, (maybe my gas got worse?).

During the middle of an SMUST production last year my phone fell out of my pocket, clanked and banged along the side of the seats, and finally landed in the middle of the entrance. Dance performances are usually the worst for me. I get bored. I fidget. Occasionally I can jam out to the music, but it’s normally nothing I can vibe with, yet I continue to torture myself (although nothing quite screams torture like opera).

The torture finally ended last night with the Meadows Dance Ensemble’s opening of their annual spring “Hope Show.” There were a couple of factors that made this particular performance stand out from the others I’ve seen in the past. Mostly, the length is what did it.

Ladies and gentlemen, size does matter. We’ve all experienced the pain of any class that runs longer than 50 minutes. That’s the beauty of Brown Bag – besides a sore butt from sitting on the floor of the lobby you’re in, you get some fun-sized culture and then you’re out.

Counting intermission, “Hope Show” runs at about an hour and 15 minutes. That’s roughly an hour of dance split up into three different pieces.

The ensemble has been rehearsing for this performance since late January (that kind of commitment is not out of the ordinary in the Dance Department), and it shows. Lean bodies moved (seemingly) without effort throughout the pieces and were a constant reminder that I’m not in shape. I learned a long time ago not to compare my body to a dancer’s because that’s a road you just don’t want to go down.

Yes, the dancers put on a killer show, and with no little help from the choreographers and teachers of the three pieces — former Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane dancer Germaul Barnes, Meadows Artist-in-Residence Adam Hougland and Meadows Prize winner Jawole Willa Jo Zollar.

Another note: this might be the least whitewashed dance show Meadows has put on to date. Either it was a happy accident or somebody made an effort to include conscious racial diversity by including the chosen works and the chosen dancers. Hope Show was also much more driven by narrative — each dancer moved with a distinct voice and the costuming
reflected personality.

You have three more chances to see Hope Show: Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

Original content as published March 25:

The Meadows Dance ensemble opens “Hope Show,” its annual spring dance concert, today. The show runs through Sunday in the Bob Hope Theatre of the Owen Fine Arts Center.

All three works in “Hope Show” were created in the last 25 years and include pieces by current Meadows Artist-in-Residence Adam Hougland, winner of the 2014 Meadows Prize Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and Tony-award winning choreographer Bill T. Jones.

Saturday evening’s performance will include a tribute to Ann Williams, founder and artistic director of Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and Lily Cabatu Weiss, chair of the dance department at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, with performances from both groups.

“Chalabati,” the first piece of the program, was choreographed by Zollar and was inspired by the Gnawa people of Morocco. Zollar spent two weeks in February rehearsing the work with Meadows students.

“Cold Virtues,” choreographed by Hougland, is set to the Violin Concerto by Philip Glass and takes inspiration from the 18th century novel “Dangerous Liaisons.” The work was created for 14 dancers to perform.

Lastly, Jones’s “D-Man in the Waters” is an award-winning piece created in 1989 in remembrance of Demian Acquavella – a member of Jones’s company who died of AIDS.

Performance times are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for students.

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