Mercyhurst Dancers present full evening of dance

The Mercyhurst College Dance Department presents The Mercyhurst Dancers in Swan Lake Act II, Quiet Chaos and Symphonie Italienne, at 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2, in the Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center at Mercyhurst College.

This full evening program of traditional classical and contemporary dance features more than 60 dancers performing to the music of Tchaikovsky, Glass and Mendelssohn.

The classic of all classics, Swan Lake, Act II, choreographed by Marius Petipa and restaged by Mercyhurst faculty Christine Hay and Noelle Partusch, showcases senior dance majors and members of the Lake Erie Ballet. Janet Strukely and Scali Riggs will appear in the role of Odette, partnered with Parris Hobbs and Brian Walker.

“When you think of a classic you think of this ballet,” said Hay. “We are proud to be able to present this historical piece of choreography.”

Quiet Chaos, choreographed by Mercyhurst artistic director and dance department director Tauna Hunter, premiered at the Erie Festival of Dance in February 2003. A contemporary work for seven women, Quiet Chaos reflects the hectic lives of women today and has been lengthened to include a solo representing the “quiet” each woman searches for in her chaotic life. The piece was inspired by Hunter’s mentor and friend, Therese Forsthoefel, and will be dedicated to her.

“Our dancers really relate to this dramatic work,” said Hunter. “Even in their young lives they feel the pull of our culture on the women of this millennium. Life is too fast and it is very difficult to slow down, take time, breathe and reflect. I hope this work will encourage women to put themselves first for at least five minutes of their day.”

The evening concludes with the world premiere of Sympohnie Italienne, choreography by Mercyhurst’s Michael Gleason. The music of Mendelssohn inspired a bravura work for 20 women and three men, and heading the cast is Amanda Mountain, who appears as part of the dance department’s Returning Professional Program.

Mountain has been dancing professionally for five years with professional companies such as the Festival Ballet Company of Atlanta and Charleston Ballet Theatre.

Presented in four movements, this dance is a virtuostic body of work inspired by the choreography of George Balanchine and the performances of the New York City Ballet.

“Our dancers are truly up to this challenge,” said Gleason. “The level of the dance department has grown tremendously during the past 10 years. It’s exciting to be able to throw anything at them and they are able to pull it off like professionals.”
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