Dance Concert Explores the Meaning of ‘Legacy’

Dance Concert Explores the Meaning of ‘Legacy’

Listening to the echoes of the past can help give meaning to the present and shape our vision for the future. Understanding where we have come from can shed light on where we are and where we want to go.

Inspired by the College of Charleston’s upcoming 250th anniversary, the Department of Theatre and Dance in the School of the Arts will showcase “Legacy – A Dance Concert,” during a series of performances Nov. 22-24, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. in the Emmett Robinson Theatre. A 2 p.m. performance will be held on Sunday, Nov. 24, only. For information on purchasing tickets visit theatre.cofc.edu.

Students perform modern dance

Students will perform modern dance during ‘Legacy – A Dance Concert.’ (Photos by Heather Moran)

Under the artistic direction of Kristin Alexander, assistant professor and founder of Annex Dance Company, “Legacy” is a collection of dance works questioning where we have come from and how we will make an impact. Interpreted by faculty, students and guest artists in eight pieces ranging from modern dance to ballet to African dance, dancers will use their bodies to convey stories and ideas in dynamic, challenging and expressive movements.

“The theme of Legacy bridges connections between family, community, history and dance,” says Alexander. “This concert has allowed the students to feel a part of something bigger than themselves.”

As a community outreach effort, a first-ever student matinee will be held for local middle and high schools and will include a lecture, works from the concert, and Q&A session. Students will be able to speak to faculty and dance performers, and ask questions about majoring in dance, professions in the arts and the creative process.

Olga Wise, co-director of Robert Ivey Ballet and adjunct faculty in the Department of Theater and Dance, says the first thing that came to her mind when thinking about history was Robert Ivey’s “Tarantella.” Ivey was among the first dance instructors at CofC and was instrumental in establishing the College’s dance program.

“Robert Ivey is a legacy to the College and the City, and ‘Tarantella’ is one of his earliest pieces. It is an upbeat, Italian folk dance that Ivey performed in Charleston and all over the world. It was a crowd favorite,” says Wise, who worked with Ivey for over 20 years and danced in “Tarantella” when he was still alive. “I’m honored that I can re-stage ‘Tarantella’ for the College.”

Students perform the Tarentella dance

Students perform a re-staging of Robert Ivey’s ‘Tarantella.’

Erin Leigh, adjunct faculty and director of Dance Matters, has dancers performing an excerpt of “Coming to Monuments,” a piece that uses social dance, theater and storytelling to unpack the history behind the display of Confederate monuments and the conflicted legacy their presence bestows.

Leigh says, “ The piece “Somebody Had To Do It” (an excerpt) was created to help audiences understand the role Charleston played in the struggles of African Americans to achieve equal civil rights. It is inspired by the story of Millicent Brown, one of the first African American students to integrate Charleston public schools nearly 10 years after the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision. The piece includes a monologue excerpted from interviews with Brown conducted at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. The cast of Jordan Benton, Dani Harrell, and Bethany Rupert rehearsed with Charleston professional dancers to learn the contemporary dance repertory.”

The concert guest artist, Harambee Dance Company, will perform an excerpt of company repertory entitled “Going Home” alongside student dancers. Frank Malloy III ’88, director, and Sandella Malloy, choreographer, got their start teaching African dance in the ’90s at the College and founded Harambee in 1992. They eventually moved the company to New York City, and now, alongside their son Frank Malloy IV, the company’s music director, continue to present work designed to build and strengthen a greater understanding of our diverse American cultural heritage. “Going Home” is an innovative high energy piece that is a combination of African-based movement, modern dance, original music and vibrant costumes.

“Harambee pushes the vocabulary of contemporary African dance in a new way that has inspired and challenged our dancers,” says Alexander.