The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Bella Edmondson, Staff Editor • June 19, 2024
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Meadows preps for fall dance

Fall is in full swing for Meadows dancers who have been rehearsing the past two weeks, four hours every night, for the upcoming dance concert.

This year’s concert celebrates African-American dance featuring the works of three distinguished African American choreographers: Alvin Ailey, Donald McKayle and Eleo Pomare.

The fall dance concert, starting Nov. 6, is the first Meadows dance program dedicated specifically to African American dance and history.

“[The fall dance concert] is different than anything I’ve ever done before,” said Willis Johnston, a senior dance major at SMU.

The four sections of the concert comprise much of the history of African-Americans starting with slavery and the Great Depression and finishing with a contemporary affirmation of black heritage.

SMU will be the first venue in the world to showcase any of Pomare’s work since his surprising death on Aug. 8.

“[The dancers at SMU] see this concert as a unique tribute to him,” said Johnston, who is cast in Pomare’s piece.

Dancers from Pomare’s company came to Dallas in his place to teach SMU dancers the choreography.

Pomare’s work for the fall dance concert is “stark, minimalistic, and dramatic,” said Johnston.

When Ailey began choreographing dance, he drew upon blues and gospel from his childhood in Rogers, Texas as inspiration.

After a successful dance and Broadway career, Ailey began to focus strictly on choreography. In 1958 he started the Alvin Ailey Dance Company in New York.

In 1970 it was the first American dance company to tour the USSR in 50 years and received nearly a 20-minute standing ovation at the famous Leningrad theater.

Ailey’s idealistic 1972 ballet, “Lark Ascending,” was inspired by its namesake, a poem by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Ironically McKayle, one of the choreographers featured in SMU’s dance concert, choreographed multiple pieces for Ailey’s company.

McKayle was a professional dancer and an original cast member of “West Side Story,” but his primary focus was choreography.

His piece, “Songs of the Disinherited,” will be performed at the concert thanks to a grant from the American Masterpieces dance-college component initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts.

This year the Meadows fall dance concert is two weeks, Nov. 6-9 and 13-16 at the Bob Hope Theatre in the Owen Arts Center. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $7 for students, faculty and staff. Call 214- 768-1787 for more information.

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