Sunday, March 9, 2003

Dance Notes

Pros choreograph for CCM shows

By Carol Norris
Enquirer contributor

The Dance Division at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music is grooming for its annual Ballet Ensemble production, where students perform works by faculty and guest choreographers.

Maria Vegh, who runs the Maria Vegh Ballet Centre in Petaluma, Calif., has choreographed "Charade," a two-part work that's a commentary on the 1960s flower power era. It visits the drug craze of the time in "LSD" and the protest climate in "Student Power." In comments about "LSD," Vegh says "... the movement starts a little bit crazy, but nobody goes as far as to jump out the window."

William Pizzuto, once a dancer with the Houston and Boston ballets and Salt Lake City's Ballet West, has done a "classical contemporary" piece to the music of Michael Daugherty. Called "What's the Spell?" It goes to the subject of America's favorite plastic doll, Barbie, featuring dancing Barbies and Kens.

Daugherty's music is all about American pop culture, such as his earlier "Metropolis Symphony," which used the Superman comics for subject matter, and "Jackie O," which was inspired by the former first lady.

Faculty choreographers include Shellie Cash, interim dance division head. She's taken music composed by CCM dean Doug Lowry to develop a modern piece. Lowry has expanded incidental music he composed in 2001 for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Ed Stern's King Lear. He describes the music for string quartet and piano as "dark and melancholic."

Jiang Qi, who trained at the Beijing Dance Academy and danced extensively with U.S. ballet companies, has resurrected the 1877 Russian work, "La Bayadere," set to the music of Ludwig Minkus.

Shows are 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; $10, $5 students and children, UC students free with I.D.; 556-4183; online at

Protective boss: When I called Cincinnati Ballet to set up a time for a photo shoot with a dancer, I got Devon Carney on the phone. He was polite and accommodating. No problem; we got the shoot arranged. Before we hung up he said - but no flash. No flash? No one's mentioned that before.

"We can't have flashes when the dancers are working. They could get hurt," he stated.

When I asked a dancer about this later, she laughed. Yeah, that's Devon she explained; he's nuts about protecting us. And it appears the dancers are nuts about their new ballet master.

Carney joins ballet mistress Johanna Bernstein Wilt in the everyday care and maintenance of the company's dancers and repertory. Buzz about his terrific classes has been loud.

Seemingly having done "it all," Carney brings a wealth of information and experience. He spent a good portion of his 21-year performing career with Boston Ballet and managed to work with some of ballet's greatest along the way: Choo San Goh, Rudolph Nureyev, Cynthia Gregory, Fernando Bujones - all ballet heavyweights. He's done everything from the classics to Balanchine to moderns such as Mark Morris and Merce Cunningham.

His preparation for ballet master status came at Boston Ballet, a position he held until 2002. We may see more than healthy, happy dancers and well-rehearsed works during his tenure, too - he's already choreographed seven ballets and isn't likely to want to stop now.

Anger control: It's always interesting to check in with Fanchon Shur to see what's up. It's usually something - and never boring.

Ms. Shur, who uses dance as a cure-all as readily as others pop pills, is tackling anger these days. Her latest offering "... taps into the vitality of movement, music and the inner dance to learn impulse control and anger management skills in a rejuvenating, creative atmosphere."

Described as "learning healthy assertion" her `moving away from violence classes' meets two Tuesday and April 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. in her North Avondale studio; 221-3222. Minimum age: 9.


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