According to UT Dallas dance faculty member Misty Owens, dancing is considerably more than it seems. The movements and motions are obvious, but Owens said it’s about the physical and mental process of thought, emotions and inspiration that create the expression of dance.
Each week, in addition to teaching her classes at UT Dallas, Owens utilizes that philosophy as she leads dance classes for individuals who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease — a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement. She said she tries to surprise and challenge the class with choreography meant to stimulate the mind and body, while nurturing and encouraging them through the shared experience of dance.
Owens is one of three founding teachers of Dance for Parkinson’s Disease at the Mark Morris Dance Group. In 2003, she began teaching the classes, called Dance for PD, in Brooklyn, New York.
Locally, the group of 35 to 40 people meets twice a week in a spacious dance studio at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. The Dance for PD class includes various traditional dance styles such as modern, ballet, jazz, tap and world dance. The majority of the time is devoted to movements that are done while seated, then standing with support, then walking and dancing without support.
One of the class participants, Bobbi Myers, said she began taking ballet lessons when she was 7 years old and continued dancing, eventually joining the Sacramento Ballet Company in California. She said that while she experiences some frustration that her movements have been curtailed, she said the class feeds her soul.
“It’s more than just a dance class; it’s a community support system. We care about each other, and we try to support each other as we travel through this journey with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders,” Myers said.
While each participant’s experience is different, many say the disease’s progression has been slowed or, in some cases, they have experienced smoother movements since they joined the dance class and participated in other physical activities.
In every dance class she teaches, Owens focuses on creating movements that inspire and challenge students’ physical and mental barriers through confidence building.
UT Dallas’ Dance Ensemble will present an evening of traditional dance and dances inspired from regions around the world, featuring choreographers with expertise in Mexican folkloric dance and flamenco styles.
This diverse group of local artists will present their own professional pieces alongside new works that feature UT Dallas students.
Residency artists include Eduardo Gutierrez of the Ollimpaxqui Ballet Company, Julia Alcantra of Ida y Vuelta and special UT Dallas alumni guests Keven Jackson, Belinda Mok and Elizabeth Owens.
The performance, titled Crossing Borders II, will run Thursday, Oct. 13, through Saturday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the University Theatre.
Students appearing in the performance are enrolled in a senior-level dance performance course and started preparing for the show at the beginning of the semester.
Micki Saba, who teaches dance courses for the School of Arts and Humanities and is directing the residency, wanted to expose the ensemble to different dance forms with the help of local artists.
“I think one of the unique things about our program is the diversity of students enrolled in dance performance,” Saba said. “We have a flux of students from all majors including neuroscience, business and arts and technology. They may not be pursuing dance professionally, but they always work their tails off.”
Students in the ensemble have adhered to an intense schedule, rehearsing roughly three hours a day Thursday through Sunday in preparation for the performance.
Rachel Neycheril, a biology senior minoring in dance and healthcare studies, said the most challenging aspect of learning a new dance form is being aware of your form and style.
“You have to ensure that aspects unique to other dance styles from previous training don’t taint the new one,” she said. “I find that dance is the most sincere and authentic expression of myself, and thus, I can’t imagine a life without it.”
Natalie Grant, a sophomore majoring in speech-language pathology with a minor in dance, said the greatest feeling is knowing you have inspired the audience through your performance.
“That feeling is what motivates me,” she said. “The challenge in learning a new dance form has been trying to interpret the choreographer’s vision and correctly executing the technique.”
Tickets for the show are $15 for general admission and $5 for faculty, staff and non-UT Dallas students. Tickets are free to UT Dallas students with valid identification. Tickets can be purchased in advance online or by calling 972-883-2552.
It’s spring and hence time for students to show off their creative work from more than 40 School of Arts and Humanities courses.
The Student Arts Spring Festival gives audiences the opportunity to take in classical music, jazz, theater, dance, guitar, piano and vocal performances, as well as an art exhibition and reception. The festival, which involves the work of more than 600 students, starts Thursday and stretches over two weeks.
The opening of Affinities, a new exhibit of images from the Jerry and Marilyn Comer Photography Collection, will kick off a varied week of arts events at UT Dallas.
Luis Mallo, Passengers, included in the Comer Collection
The exhibit’s opening reception is Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 2 p.m. in the University Theatre Gallery.
The Comer Collection captures scenes of American life from the middle to late 20th century. Jerry Comer, who earned a master’s degree in management from UT Dallas in 1977, donated his personal collection of photos to the University in 2004.
Photos in the exhibit include works by Larry Fink, Andrea Modica, Luis Mallo, Rufus O. Lovett, Andres Serrano and Paula Willmot Kraus.
Other events for the week include:
Faculty @ 5: Elledanceworks, Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 5:30 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall. An informal presentation of several original works by the Elledanceworks Dance Company will be followed by an open discussion with the choreographers and dancers, led by co-directors Ronelle Eddings and UTD faculty member Michele Hanlon.
Center for Values Discussion Forum:Ethics and the Military Funding of Research, Wed., Feb. 8 at 7:30 in GR 2.530. The discussion will examine what ethical issues arise as academic researchers decide whether to accept funds from the military and from defense contractors. Speakers include Dr. Emily Tobey, Dr. Nicholas Gans, Dr. Andrew Blanchard and Dr. Marjorie Zielke.
C.D. Wright, One With Others
Poetry Reading: C.D. Wright, Thursday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall. The award-winning poet C.D. Wright will read from her most recent collection of poetry, One with Others, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award and was a National Book Award finalist.
Erin Hannigan and Friends, Saturday, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall. Erin Hannigan, principal oboe player of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, will be joined by other members of the DSO wind section, Deborah Baron (flute) and Gregory Raden (clarinet), as well as pianist Gabriel Sanchez.
All events are free to students with UT Dallas photo IDs at the venue box office the night of the event. Discounts are available to faculty, staff, alumni, retirees and students from other universities. Email the Arts and Performance Office, or call (972) UTD-ARTS for more information.
John-Mario Sevilla Residency Performance, University of Texas at Dallas at UTD’s University Theatre, Richardson (March 10)
How Mr. Sevilla managed to get away with gags like shoving a cake into a friend’s mouth in Pie in the Sky could be explained only by comic timing and an atmosphere of the surreal. Other than that bit of nuttiness, the program had the advantage of some stellar dancing and fast action.
Starting this week, more than 600 UT Dallas students from more than 40 courses will be sharing their art with the public as part of The Student Art Fall Festival.
The festival, which stretches across two weeks, invites audiences to roam from one building to another, taking in classical, jazz, dance, guitar, piano and vocal performances, as well as an art exhibition and reception.
Highlights for the festival include a concert by Musica Nova, which features the University’s Advanced Orchestra/ Chamber Music Ensemble. Students will perform with UT Dallas faculty and other professional musicians under the direction of composer-conductor Robert Xavier Rodríguez. The concert is Friday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall.
Students in dance courses will perform Thursday at 7 p.m.
Also on the bill for the festival is UT Dallas’ oldest continuous cultural tradition, the 35th Annual Holiday Sing. The concert celebrates “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” with the UT Dallas Chamber Singers, directed by Kathryn Evans; the UT Dallas Community Chorale, directed by Mary Medrick; and the UT Dallas Wind Ensemble, directed by Winston Stone. Holiday Sing starts at 8 p.m. on Satuday, Dec. 10, in the University Theatre.
“The audience enjoys singing along with some well-known carols, including Joy to the World, Silent Night,Jingle Bells and The Twelve Days of Christmas,” Evans said. Students will read holiday poems, and other carols will be performed by the UT Dallas Chamber Singers, Community Chorale and the Wind Ensemble, said Evans, vocal and choral music in the UT Dallas School of Arts and Humanities.
A visit by Santa Claus and a reception sponsored by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations will top off the evening.
The schedule for the festival is as follows:
Wednesday, Nov. 30
UT Dallas Jazz Band – 7:30 p.m. – Jonsson Performance Hall
Electric Guitar Ensemble – 8:30 p.m. – Jonsson Performance Hall
Thursday, Dec. 1
All Guitar Courses – 7 p.m. – Jonsson Performance Hall
All Dance Courses – 7 p.m. – University Theatre
Friday, Dec. 2
Art Reception – 6:30 – 8:30pm – Visual Arts Building
Saturday, Dec. 3
Community Chorale – 7 p.m. – Jonsson Performance Hall
Piano I, II, III – 7:30 p.m. – Jonsson Performance Hall
Tuesday, Dec. 6
Instrumental Ensembles and UT Dallas Orchestra – 8 p.m. – University Theatre
Friday, Dec. 9
SING! Students in vocal instruction and musical theater workshop – 7 p.m. – Jonsson Performance Hall.
A look at capitalism’s future by science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson leads off a series of UT Dallas arts events in a week that also includes a dance performance, jazz concert and an art exhibit opening.
Best known for his award-winning Mars trilogy, Robinson will give a talk Wednesday, Nov. 16, titled Valuing the Earth and Future Generations: Imagining Post Capitalism. Robinson argues that our current economic system undervalues both the environment and future human generations and leaves us ill-prepared for future changes.
“The problem is that the future is so hard to imagine that we tend to take analogies from the past,” Robinson said at the Bruce Initiative on Rethinking Capitalism conference at UC Santa Cruz in April.
Robinson challenges science to design a more effective economic system.
His talk is at 7:30 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall.
Robinson has published 15 novels and several short story collections, many of which explore ecological and sociological themes. Recently, the U.S. National Science Foundation sent Robinson to Antarctica as part of its Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. He holds a PhD in English from UC San Diego.
Other arts events scheduled this week include:
- The dance performance I’m Not Invisible, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, in the Jonsson Performance Hall. Choreographed by faculty member Micki Saba, the dance is inspired by Mattie Stepanek, a young boy who celebrated life despite being born with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. The performance expresses the challenges of long-term illness, physical disability and learning differences.
- A jazz concert featuring drummer Butch Miles, leading a group of local musicians, on Friday, Nov. 18. Lynn Seaton will accompany him on bass, Karl Lampman on sax, Tony Baker on trombone, Jack Evans on trumpet and UT Dallas faculty member Kelly Durbin on piano. The concert starts at 8 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall.
- The opening of One Song, Three Composers by Shannon Novak at CentralTrak, the UT Dallas artist residency and gallery in Deep Ellum. Three electronic pianos will form the focal point of the exhibition, each chromatically altered. The triangle of keyboards will represent the connection and intersection of three different theoretical approaches of mapping color to sound. The instruments also act as a birthing point for the geometric abstractions on the gallery walls. The opening reception for the exhibit will be Saturday, Nov. 19, 8-10 p.m. The show runs until Dec. 17.
What do the sages of antiquity have to tell a modern audience about growing old? More than we may realize, says William B. Irvine, author of A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy.
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine, Oct. 26.
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber, Oct. 27.
The Wright State University philosophy scholar will lecture Wednesday, Oct. 26, about the Stoic philosophers’ advice on aging well.
The presentation is a collaboration between two UT Dallas centers: the Center for Vital Longevity and the School of Arts and Humanities (A&H) Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology.
“The Stoic philosophy of life may be old, but it merits the attention of any modern individual who wishes to have a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling – who wishes, that is, to have a good life,” Irvine says.
Irvine’s talk starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall.
Other A&H events this week include a fiction reading, concert, dance performances and art exhibit openings.
Fiction writer Ann Weisgarber will discuss her debut novel The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, which was nominated for England’s Orange Prize and the Orange Award for New Writers. In the U.S., her book has won the Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction and the Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction. Weisgarber will speak Thursday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance hall.
Family Day weekend returns to campus this year on Saturday, Oct. 1, and brings with it multiple arts and entertainment options for parents and relatives to sample after they tour the University’s new buildings and facilities.
“Family day is an opportunity for parents and other family members to return to campus to spend time with their students,” said Cynthia Jenkins, assistant vice president for student affairs. “We host these special events so they can share time together while catching up on the happenings of the semester so far.”
Arts attractions include two musical performances, a play and a student photography exhibit.
Starting Thursday, Sept. 28, and running through Saturday, Oct. 1, at 8 p.m., students and their families can see Reckless at the University Theater. Directed by Jeff Stover, director of theater and dance at UT Dallas, and featuring a cast of UT Dallas students,Reckless is the story of a woman overcoming tribulation to discover her true strengths.
“This play is filled with layer upon layer of complexity. Digging into these characters lives and seeing the students find new layers was exciting and enthralling,” said Stover.
On Friday, Sept. 30, at 8 p.m. is a musical performance from the Alturas Duo, in the Alexander Clark Center (formerly the Conference Center). Scott Hill on guitar and Carlos Boltes on the viola and charango will play South American and classical music shifting between the Baroque, South American folk rhythms and new pieces written especially for the Duo.
Other arts events set for Family Day include the student photography and video exhibition “Social Studies” in the Visual Arts Building, and a tour of the Arts and Technology program’s Motion Capture Lab.
The Office of Student Affairs will offer tours of the new Student Services Building, Visitors Center and University Bookstore. Families can also create activity books for hospital through the service project “Busy Books for Kids and Adults,” the Office of Student Volunteerism will host the project.
One O’Clock Lab Band
The One O’Clock Lab Band will give a Jazz concert at 8 p.m. in the Alexander Clark Center. The Band is the premier performing ensemble of the University of North Texas jazz studies program, directed by Grammy-nominated composer and arranger Steve Wiest.
To see complete details about Family Day, go here.
Coming to UT Dallas for an extensive residency program, Birgitt Bodingbauer and Simone Grindel will work closely with students to share insights on their artistic method.
These two award-winning choreographers from Berlin will perform some of their own works as well as choreograph pieces for UT Dallas dance students.
“This is a new experience – working with this number of students in a new language is a challenge, but I’m feeding off the student’s energy – they’re shaping the performance themselves,” said Bodingbauer, who started a dance company in 2007 named Nightmare Before Valentine. The company aims to “push the agenda on dance and how it can communicate in a clear and straight forward fashion.”
The residency will culminate in final performances scheduled for 8 p.m. Oct. 27-29 in the University Theatre. The visiting artists will perform alongside UT Dallas student dancers in a work titled V.I.P.
“As a dancer it’s great to experience a new vocabulary and language through movement,” said Danielle Georgiou, a PhD student. “It’s special to work with emerging artists like Birgitt and Simone.”
While working on the dance performance, the visiting artists are staying at CentralTrak, UT Dallas’ artist residency and gallery in Deep Ellum.
“CentralTrak is a great place for artists to live and work as the community supports the exploration and practice of different forms of art,” said Grindel.
The dancers were brought to UT Dallas by Arts and Humanities faculty member Michele Hanlon. Hanlon was one of seven finalists featured in the 2009 SideBySide international online dance festival. Bodingbauer won the competition.
Hanlon and the other finalists introduced their work in Dusseldorf, Germany. Each performed a three-minute modern dance piece expressing his or her choreographic style.
“Our students are finding that there is nothing like an intense residency to make them reach beyond their experiences toward self discovery. When you can bring them into something that’s not common to their experiences as a dancer, it creates a great environment to grow,” Hanlon said.