"It's something of an abstracted living chess game," comments choreographer Linda Graham of the Hope College dance faculty, "but you don't have to know how to play the game to enjoy it."
Graham is referring to the dance work "En Passant," named for a chess maneuver in which a pawn captures another pawn under special circumstances. The work has been entered for adjudication in the Great Lakes Regional American College Dance Festival later this month.
As a preview, "En Passant" will be presented at Hope College on Monday, March 8, at 5:30 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre, located in downtown Holland at 86 E. 8th St. The 12-minute performance will be followed by a brief discussion.The public is invited. Admission is free.
"En Passant" was originally created last year for the Hope College spring dance concert, Dance 29. Graham chose to bring it back to the stage as an entry in this year's regional festival, being hosted by the Wayne State Maggie Allesee Department of Dance in Detroit on Wednesday-Saturday, March 17-20, but with the inevitable graduation of students she had to re-cast a number of roles."The Knights are now played by two men - the change of casting has energized the piece and drawn it into some new directions," she said. "We're looking forward to seeing how it works out."
Graham was anxious to have the new cast perform the piece with an audience prior to stepping onto a strange stage in front of judges. The March 8 Knickerbocker preview is the result.
"En Passant" first presents the "players" (Nancy Nicodemus and Jamie Thompson), wisdom and youth. As they set the pieces, the dancers begin to emerge, forming their characters and creating alliances. The work continues on a chessboard, and those who are familiar with the game can follow the moves.
The cast includes all students. Nicodemus is retired from the college's English faculty and taking classes at Hope, and Thompson is a sophomore from St. Joseph. Those portraying the chess pieces include: senior Kara Wilson of Fort Wayne, Ind., as the Queen; junior Jeff Kurtze of Elkhart, Ind., as the King; seniors Colette Harris of Chicago, Ill., and Lindsay Townsend of Lombard, Ill., as Rooks; juniors Amanda Gardynik of Howell and Jessica Mumford of Kalamazoo as Bishops; seniors Dan Kwiatkowski of Cheboygan and Matt Farmer of Bangor as Knights; and junior Chelsea Brown of Naperville, Ill., junior Colleen Cooney of Radcliff, Ky., sophomore Lauren March of West Lafayette, Ind., junior Ginny Trover of Lafayette, Ohio, and junior Teresea VanDenend of Ripley, Ohio, as Pawns.
"En Passant" features acoustic guitar and ronrocco music by Gustavo Santaolallo. Lighting design by Erik Alberg captures the atmosphere of an intimate warm winter evening by a fire. Costumes are by Darlene Christopher.
The American College Dance Festival focuses on supporting and promoting the wealth of talent and creativity that is prominent throughout college and university dance departments. ACDFA's sponsorship of regional and national dance festivals provides the venue for students to engage in three days of workshops, lectures, demonstrations and master classes taught by instructors from around the region and country.
The festivals also provide an opportunity for students and faculty to have their dance works adjudicated by a panel of nationally recognized dance professionals in an open and constructive forum. Culminating with the presentation of pieces selected for their exemplary artistic quality, the festivals are the primary means for college and university dance programs to perform outside their own academic setting and be exposed to the diversity of the national college dance world.