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SoMar, AZQ perform improvisational concert

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mark & Solveig Santillano

SoMar Dance Works and the Allen Zurcher Quartet (AZQ) are teaming up for a concert of improvisation in music and dance. The one-night-only performance will be held at the Walker Recital Hall at Mercyhurst University on Friday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. AZQ will provide the music while SoMar Dance Works joins in for the visuals at the event, which is sponsored by JazzErie.

Under the direction of Solveig and Mark Santillano, SoMar Dance Works is known for its creativity and unique sense of theatrics. The company is in-residence at Mercyhurst where the Santillanos both teach. Joining Solveig and Mark will be Mercyhurst dance alumna Jo Alspaugh and seven Mercyhurst dance majors: Emily Como, Kelsi Curtis, Ragan Faulkner, Liz Fischer, Kathryn Galimi, Matthew Huefner and Kerry Schroeder.

The Allen Zurcher Quartet includes Allen Zurcher (tenor saxophone), Sheldon Peterson (guitar), David Blaetz (bass) and Matt Ferguson (drums).

Zurcher approached SoMar with the project a year ago, but it’s taken a while for the two groups to work out the logistics of the event. Although SoMar Dance Works has performed with live musicians in the past, this is a new experience considering the improvisational elements involved in this concert.

“This project posed some new challenges for us,” said Mark Santillano. “We’ve spent our time creating a framework for movement events to give the dances some shape. Much like the musicians, who have a melody to springboard them into the improvisations and a chord progression to adhere to, we had to come up with a method that would give direction to our work while allowing the flexibility to react to the musicians.

“We’re very excited to see how this will all come together,” he said. “It’s a bit of a risk, going on stage with so many unknown factors at play.”

A $5 donation is recommended for the concert, which is sponsored in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Erie Arts and Culture and Mercyhurst University.

Learn more about SoMar and JazzErie