The Mercyhurst Dancers will partner with the Regional Cancer Center and returning alumni May 2-4 to celebrate 40 years of dance at Mercyhurst University in the 16th annual presentation of Raw Edges.
In addition, the Saturday evening gala concert on May 3 will honor Artistic Director Tauna Hunter and Production Manager/Resident Designer Michael Gleason for their 20 years at Mercyhurst University, their passionate commitment to dance and their advocacy for breast cancer awareness.
Hunter will celebrate her six-year milestone as a breast cancer survivor by presenting two personal works from her body of 25 neo-classical and contemporary works in the ballet, musical theatre and operetta genres. Inspired by 9/11 and personal losses, “For Loss of Renee” is a dramatic contemporary duet for two women performed to the Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber and reflects emotions of loss, grief and healing.
“I am grateful every day for one more day on the planet to share my love for my family, my students and the gift of dance that has enabled me to make a difference in my world and the world of others one step at a time,” says Hunter.
She will also present “Quiet Chaos,” to the music of Philip Glass and Jennifer Barezan, which speaks to her daily struggle to find balance in her life.
Gleason will present “Symphonie Italienne,” a classical ballet for 20 women and three men to Felix Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony. Both bravura and virtuoso in every sense of those words and a favorite of the dancers, the work premiered in 2003. It has been presented several times since for events including the Erie Festival of Dance and the gala evening of the American College Dance Conference hosted by Mercyhurst University in 2010.
Returning professional Rachel James ’16 collaborated with 10 dancers to create “Inscription.” James describes it as “a breathing living piece of art that is brought to life by the Mercyhurst dance majors. The dancers create an atmospheric quality exploring romance and love and the intangible joy of another’s presence.” It reflects collaboration with multiple artists and influences including dancers, poetry, emailing and Skyping with colleagues and Mercyhurst faculty in English, music and dance.
Junior dance major Katarina Fitzpatrick ’15 shares her take on the emotions, ideas and character archetypes associated with “night,” capturing the paradoxical menace and romance of night through various dance genres. The driving force in “Of the Night” is a large group of dancers who convey the emotional content associated with night. Four intermediate movements define characters in brief vignettes that capture their role in the night’s altered social context.
Special to both Hunter and Gleason will be the return of several alumni guests to complete the program, including Alyssa Alger ’10, a recent M.F.A. graduate of the University of Arizona; Caroline Milliken Euker ’05 of Missouri Contemporary Ballet; Justin Michael Hogan ’12 of Louisville Ballet; and Cassandra Powers Surdula ’09, formerly of Montgomery Ballet.
Following the Friday and Saturday evening performances, “Talk Back” will offer a special opportunity to meet, talk with and ask questions of the dancers and choreographers.
Performances in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center are on Friday, May 2, at 4:30 p.m. (preview performance, balcony seating only, all seats $5); Saturday, May 3, at 2 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, May 4, at 2 p.m.
Breast cancer survivors who present their Regional Cancer Center ID will get a $5 ticket to the performance of their choice.
Call the box office at 814-824-3000.
PHOTO: Alyssa Alger ’10 by Ed Flores