Saturday, October 20th, 2018

Save your tears for the dance floor: USM performance a success

Posted on April 19, 2016 in Arts & Culture
By USM Free Press

Online Content

By: Jimmy Dority, Free Press Staff


“Dance is for everybody; it shouldn’t be exclusive,” director Maria Tzianabos, after intense rehearsal on Friday, said. The tenacious Tzianabos was vocal as she presided over the rehearsal for May’s performance, shouting words of praise and appraisal as her dedicated troupe of dancers flew and glided across the small space. With bold movements and graceful gestures the dancers floated across the floor, each one asserting an essay in movement.

The performance was charged with control and intention. Comprised of mostly theater majors, the group buzzed with a dramatic activity that was at once individualized and unified. The pieces breathed with a unique vitality, at one moment communal, at another disjunct. The mixture was no accident, but a thematic thread that characterized this charged performance.

Many of the dancers will be graduating this year, and the show provides a platform to express both the ecstatic excitement and the awful dread that graduating entails. Through the medium of dance, students express the experience of a new horizon and growth that is experienced with and without others. [Student] emphasized the theme of the “strength of the individual within the community,” noting how fluidly this dynamic can be represented through the language of dance. The show, produced by Maria’s Danceworks and sponsored by USM, will explore themes of identity, connectedness and transition.

The genesis of the show is a unique example of art imitating life: “Dance USM,” a celebrated bi­annual concert, ran last year, leaving this year’s seniors studying dance with no outlet for their expressive work other than the dance classes offered by USM. As both a remedy to this problem, and as an homage to these seniors, Tzianabos invited them to collaborate with dance students outside of USM. No stranger to new horizons, Tzianabos described having taught dance at USM for seventeen fruitful years, collaborating with artists and and meeting “purple people,” another term for the oddballs who inspire us, or people who hold a strong belief in “reciprocal learning.” She has pushed her students to integrate themselves within in the larger dance community of southern Maine. May’s performance will feature some of Tzianabos’ younger students performing alongside the seniors.

Drawing on the works of Martha Graham and Bill T. Jones, some of the choreography incorporates pedestrian movement into the fold, creating a humanistic experience. Other pieces utilize ballroom and jazz idioms to produce a lively effect, such as one exciting piece choreographed by Maria Tzianabos and John Nolan.

As the students shared their thoughts after an arduous rehearsal, the bright and dynamic Tzianabos insisted that she and the crew save their tears for after the performance. Nonetheless moved, she humbly noted, “I just want them to meet their purple people.”

The show will take the form of two performances in Russell Hall on the Gorham Campus: “Transitions” on Friday, May 6 at 7:30 pm, and the “Annual Spring Concert” on Saturday, May 7 at 2 pm. The shows will feature Tzianabos’ Terpsicore Repertory Company and community guests from Ballroom Dance Portland, Fusion Dance Company, and more. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for USM students.

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