Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Last modified: Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The works of 'Contemporary Masters,' IU choreographers, featured at annual concert

WHAT: Contemporary Masters, featuring the works of modern dance icons David Parsons, Bella Lewitzky and Donald McKayle. The Annual Faculty and Guest Artist Concert is presented by the Indiana University departments of Kinesiology and Theatre and Drama.
WHEN: Jan. 14-15 at 7:30 p.m.; family matinee Jan. 15 at 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Ruth N. Halls Theatre, 275 N. Jordan Ave.
TICKETS: Advance: $20 for adults, $10 for children, seniors and IU students with ID. At the door: $25 for adults, $15 for children, seniors and IU students with ID. Family matinee: $10 for adults, $5 for children and seniors. Call IU Box Office at 812-855-1103. The family matinee features a shorter program of only the Contemporary Masters' works.
Pre-Concert Talks: Jan. 14, "David Parsons in Person," 6:30 p.m. in the Grand Hall, Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center; Jan. 15, "The Lewitzky Legacy," same time and location.

Jan. 4, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Contemporary dance masterpieces from the 1980s will be performed by Indiana University dance majors in the upcoming Contemporary Masters, the annual faculty/guest artist concert presented by the Indiana University departments of Kinesiology and Theatre and Drama.

Contemporary Dance

Dance major Kristine Jones performs in David Parsons' "Nascimento Novo"

Print-Quality Photo

Famed modern dance choreographer Bella Lewitzky's seminal piece, Suite Satie, has been restaged for the first time, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Contemporary Masters begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Ruth N. Halls Theatre and features the works of world renowned choreographers Bella Lewitzky, Donald McKayle and David Parsons, as well as works by IU faculty members. On Friday night only, David Parsons -- described in the New York Times as "one of the great movers of modern dance" -- will answer questions and speak with audience members before the concert. Also Friday only, Parsons' signature solo Caught will be performed by Parsons Dance company member Miguel Quinones.

"It will be a spectacular evening," said Elizabeth Shea, director of Contemporary Dance in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. "This is an opportunity to see dance that can normally only be seen in metropolitan areas, like New York and Chicago."

Contemporary Dance

Senior dance majors Andranise Baxter and Laura Hunter perform with Justin Zuschlag, dance faculty, in Bella Lewitzky's "Suite Satie."

Print-Quality Photo

To help prepare for the concert, Nora Reynolds Daniel, daughter of modern dance icon Bella Lewitzky, spent a week with the students performing in Suite Satie.

"It was wonderful having Nora on campus," Shea said. "She is not just Bella's daughter, but is an amazing artist in her own right. She had wonderful insights into the piece and the technique itself, which were essential to the reconstruction."

Lewitzky, who died in 2004, was a notable dancer and an award-winning choreographer. The Bella Lewitzky Dance Company, based in Los Angeles, performed throughout the U.S. and abroad from 1966 to 1997.

Shea said she decided to reconstruct and stage Suite Satie because it has not been seen in almost 25 years, and is a gem that contains the essence of the Lewitsky technique -- an anatomically based system of body isolations, core strength and dynamic use of space. Shea received an NEA grant to recreate the 20-minute dance, which features seven dancers moving to Satie's famous piano works. This version is accompanied by musicians from the IU Jacobs School of Music.

Senior Melanie Griffin said it was one of the most difficult dances she has learned, but also the most rewarding.

"To have such a famous choreographer's daughter give us hands-on instruction was amazing," said Griffin, who is majoring in contemporary dance. "She was really hard on us, but it's made us that much better."

Shea said it is immensely satisfying to watch months of hard work unfold on stage.

"It is always quite wonderful when you see a student grow, mature and develop into an artist before your very eyes," she said. "And you know some day they will do the same for another student or an audience, so the lineage of the art form will live on."

David Parsons' Nascimento Novo, performed to live percussion composed by Brazil's legendary Milton Nascimento, and Hand Dance, a whimsical foray for hands detached from the dancers' bodies via lighting and costumes, will also highlight the program. The Parsons' works are supported in part by an award from the IU Institute for Advanced Studies. Rainbow Etude, an excerpt from modern dance legend Donald McKayle's masterpiece Rainbow Round My Shoulder, and coached by Professor Gwendolyn Hamm, will be accompanied by members of the IU African American Choral Ensemble, completing the contemporary masterpieces. Iris Rosa, director of the African American Dance Company and Professor George Pinney are staging new works, as is Visiting Lecturer Selene Carter, whose work is set to live Klezmer music. Shea has restaged a work from 2006, Coming to Light, which was commissioned by the New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities awards and features an original score by Jacobs School of Music Professor Jeffrey Hass and scenography by Robert Shakespeare, lighting director from the IU Department of Theatre and Drama.

Talks before the concert will give the audience access to an intimate conversation with David Parsons (Friday) and a panel of scholars speaking about Lewitzky and Satie (Saturday). The Department of Theatre and Drama is in IU's College of Arts and Sciences.

For more information, please contact Selene Carter at 812-856-2819 or

About Contemporary Dance at Indiana University

The IU Contemporary Dance Program offers a collection of dance experiences that are accessible to students who seek serious study in the art of dance. The program's core offerings consist of curricula which, through the highest quality of training and instruction, strengthen and refine contemporary dance technique as well as provide scholarly inquiry into the history, science and aesthetics of dance. The faculty of the IU Contemporary Dance Program strives to not only teach, but mentor and provide a strong theoretical base from which each dancer can grow and work as an individual artist. Students are encouraged to seek their own venue for expression, such as performance, choreography, teaching, production or scholarship, and prepare for a successful career in the professional and academic field of dance.