Fall Dance Concert showcases UMKC’s Dance Division

Henry Gamber

Music majors, step aside. This past weekend, the Conservatory’s dance ensemble hosted its fall concert, showcasing pieces choreographed by UMKC dance faculty, the late Leni Wylliams and one by guest artist Christopher Huggins.

“It was really powerful and expressive,” junior Elise Eastin said. “The whole range of emotions they were communicating, I really appreciated that.”

The concert began with a world premiere of “The 3 Fates Trilogy,” choreographed by associate professor Ronn Tice. The piece portrayed the three Greek Fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atrapos – you might remember them from Disney’s “Hercules” – in a ballet featuring 21 of the Conservatory’s talented dancers.

The piece showcased the remarkable athleticism and precision of the dancers, whose use of props was very en pointe (my apologies for the pun).

Next up was Victoria Knox performing the solo piece “Sweet in the Morning,” choreographed by Leni Wylliams. The piece, set to the music of Bobby McFerrin, was a passionate display of her incredible skill and strength.

After that came my personal favorite, Gratitude, choreographed by associate professor Gary Abbott. The modern piece featured hand-made costumes and music from the movie “Cloud Atlas,” which combined with the unique movement to create an intense emotional experience that I am sure the audience was grateful for.

After a brief intermission, the concert resumed with associate professor David Justin’s “The Light that Lights” which began with the flash of three bright lights, stunning the audience. What came next was a stirring performance set to music by Guillermo Lago and Abagar Quarted.

Next was new assistant professor Michael Blake’s “That What Is Your Potential” which featured music performed by Dr. Olga Shupyatskaya on piano and vocalist Amanda Searles. The contemporary piece started as an expressive duet and solo, which led into ensemble choreography.

The finale to the concert was a somber piece choreographed by special guest Christopher Huggins called “The List.” Huggins piece tells the grief and sorrow filled story of a Jewish family during the Holocaust as they are taken away from their home to a concentration camp. “The List” stirred the audience, bringing many to tears, but the piece also left a deep impact on the dancers who performed it.

“In the audition, my eyes stung,” junior Liat Roth said. “It’s not an easy ballet to watch, and it’s not an easy ballet to dance.” Roth played the role of the mother in The List and hopes to honor the memory of those who lost their lives and the millions who were impacted by the Holocaust.

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