Point Park University’s dance department has long had a reputation for turning out talented dancers. So when looking at the program, it’s easy to focus on its distinguished performing alumni and overlook the talents of the teaching staff. In the department’s annual Conservatory Dance Company at Point Park University production, the spotlight will turn on five staff members as they showcase their choreographic skills in new works created for student troupe the Conservatory Dance Company. The program has five performances, Feb. 23-26 at the university’s George Rowland White Performance Studio.
Former Dallas Black Dance Theatre star Garfield Lemonius’ latest creation, “Traverse,” is a contemporary dance work in three sections, each containing very different movement energy. Lemonius says that the work’s 10 dancers travel “in different spatial patterns and formations, embracing the ways one may move through space.”
Former Broadway dancer Mark Burrell says he channeled jazz-dance icon Bob Fosse’s movement for his new work, “Close Your Eyes and Listen,” set to music by South American contemporary tango band Bajofondo. The group piece, says Burrell, “is a personal and political story.” Uncertain about the direction the current U.S. leadership is taking the country, Burrell says “it is the first time in my life I have been scared as an openly gay man.” In the work, Burrell seeks to allay his fears using the heartbeat of tango as a metaphor for a path forward to love and understanding.
Kiesha Lalama is a choreographer whose light is currently burning brightly on the national stage. She’s choreographed for feature films (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Sorority Row) and for companies including Giordano Dance Chicago and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and she has a potential Broadway production in the works. Her latest work for CDC, “Flicker ’n Flow,” explores the human struggle to fully ignite that creative light she’s found and that burns inside all of us.
Rounding out the program are Susan Stowe’s ballet “Don Quixote Suite” and dance-department chair Rubén Graciani’s contemporary dance work “Tethers, Capsules, and Collisions” — an exploration, he says, “of that which connects us and that which pushes us in directions unforeseen.”