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Cutting-Edge Dance Take Center Stage in USC Dance Company Performance

The University of SC Dance Company will present a selection of innovative dance works during its Spring Contemporary Concert, February 21-24 at Drayton Hall Theatre.

Show times are 7:30pm for the February 21-23 performances and 2pm for the February 2 performance.  Tickets are $15 for students, $20 for USC Faculty/Staff, Military and Seniors, and $22 for the general public, and can be purchased online at dance.sc.edu, by phone at 803-777-2551, or in person at the Longstreet Theatre box office, located at 1300 Greene St.  Physical box office hours are 12:30pm – 5:30pm, Monday through Friday, beginningFebruary 14.  Drayton Hall Theatre is located at 1214 College St., across from the historic UofSC Horseshoe.

The concert includes cutting-edge works by guest artist Shaun Boyle (Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, BalletMet), Associate Professors Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis, and dance instructors Olivia Waldrop andStephanie Wilkins.

UofSC Dance Artistic Director Susan Anderson calls Shaun Boyle’s Honor and Ash “brilliant, different and dark,” while praising the piece as being a highly technical piece of choreography.  “It’s a perfect blend for us,” she says.  In addition to its inclusion in this concert, Anderson says the piece is also slated to be performed by the USC Dance Company at the Southeastern conference of the American College Dance Festival in March 2018.

Boyle describes the work, which she originally created in collaboration with dancers at the University of Utah, as centering on the theme of war/violence and its aftermath.  “What resulted,” she says, “was movement language that I believe embodies internal conflict, collective turmoil and tension, and, at times, a sense of surrendering.”

UofSC dance Associate Professor Tanya Wideman-Davis says her still-untitled piece fuses movement with wearable sculpture to explore how women are “cultured into not taking up space, not having agency, and not really feeling like you’re not an object in the space.”  The work will feature original sculpted “skirts,” created by sophomore dance majorJulia Maxwell, whose visual art talents Wideman-Davis noticed in the Choreography and 3-D Sculpture class she co-taught in the Fall 2017 semester with Assistant Professor Naomi Falk from the School of Art.

The piece will be set to music of rock icon Prince, whose passionate performances Wideman-Davis says perfectly embody the theme of challenging cultural restrictions.  “You can’t just lull into [Prince’s music].  You have to hit the mark of the music,” she says.  “If you’ve been told not to take up space, to only be small and genteel, then you can’t fully embody your potential.  And when I hear Prince’s music, he makes me embody potential.”

A similar theme of questioning how clothing influences individuality permeates Bare, choreographed by university dance instructor Olivia Waldrop.  “Typically, costuming is one of the last pieces of the puzzle in creating dance,” she says.  “For this work, we almost immediately started working with costumes, so they could influence the movement of the dancers.”

Dance instructor Stephanie Wilkins says her as-yet-untitled “athletic contemporary” work, set to Barber’s Adagio for Strings, takes inspiration from the process of overcoming personal obstacles. “It’s kind of an epic emotional journey about setbacks and comebacks,” she says.  “And my mantra now has been that the comeback is always stronger than the setback.”

Associate Professor Thaddeus Davis’ Black Gazing, originally created and performed for the USC Dance Company Fall 2017 concert, will be reprised on this concert.  In Davis’ emotive work, inventive movement is juxtaposed with evocative visual projections and the powerful music of Nina Simone to “reconsider taboo relationships in an ever-changing world.”

For more information about the USC Dance Company Spring Contemporary Concert or the dance program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at bushk@mailbox.sc.edu.

Shown, both photos: USC Dance students perform Thaddeus Davis’ “Black Gazing.”  Photos by Jason Ayer.

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