I come from a dance background, having danced various styles since I was a little girl. Still, I had no idea what I was getting into when I volunteered to cover the Faculty Dance Concert for Niner Times. What I got was a truly phenomenal theater experience, a wide range of topics and emotions told through dance and music.
The concert was presented in Robinson Hall’s Belk Theater at 7:30 p.m. on the 16 and 17 of Sept. It contained five different pieces, all told in their own different ways.
It began with a work titled Ancestral Tides: A Contact & Music Improvisation performed by EE Balcos, Anthony Oliva and Shamou. EE Balcos is an associate professor here at UNC Charlotte while Shamou is the new Music Director for Dance. The performers not only improvised their dance, they also created their own music through vocals and various instruments.
The second performance was “Of the Past,” a section of a much longer work titled Morning Honeysuckle, Sundays Greed. It tied the current injustices against African American people to their past through breathtaking dance by Tamara Williams. Using the song “Echo” by Sweet Honey in the Rock, the piece truly made a statement that today’s events are “nothing but an echo of the past.” Williams is Assistant Professor of Dance at UNCC.
Shamou made his return appearance in From East to West Through The Middle, a three part musical performance connecting East and West Africa through song. It utilized the instruments shekere, kalimba and conga drums. Different lighting concepts also helped tell the story of this journey through Africa.
After a short pause, the concert continued with the 30 minute work Welcome choreographed by Rachel Barker, Assistant Professor and Dance Education Coordinator, in collaboration with the performers and Breanne Horne. The piece was performed by Juliana Tilbury-Carson and two UNCC alumni, Audrey Baran and Caitlyn Swett. It was funded by a Faculty Research Grant and comes from a process focused on improvisation and performance. The work included trio dance as well various solos and spoken asides.
To end the evening, Kaddish Revisted swept through the theater. A screen was lowered above the stage and showcased the video documentary “Dance or die: Syrian dancer fights the war in his own way” by Roozbeh Kaboly. Below it, students presented lights and danced. After the video, music was performed on violin (Andrea Giovanni Lucchi) and piano (Ludovico Tassani). Kim Jones, Associate Professor of Dance, shined in a beautiful solo. The work is inspired by Anna Sokolow’s 1945 Kaddish, based on Jewish prayers of mourning and Jones’ response to both 9/11 and events in Syria.
Let there be no doubt in one’s mind about how talented and skilled UNCC’s dance faculty is. One only needs to look at the Faculty Dance Concert for proof of that fact.