Among Kansas City’s smaller dance companies, City in Motion is one of the longest-lived and best-loved.
By PATRICK NEAS
Special to The Star
Founded in 1985, the company is going strong under artistic director Andrea Skowronek, presenting programs not only by its own company but also by other area dancers and choreographers.
City in Motion will present “A Modern Night at the Folly,” an evening of cutting-edge dance by 11 choreographers at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St.
Production director Crystal Robins describes the program as “an invitational choreography showcase.” Choreographers were asked to submit original work to City in Motion to be featured in the show.
“The purpose is to promote new works not repertory pieces,” Robins says. “The dances have to have been choreographed in the past year. So many people were looking forward to applying for this concert. They take it seriously, and they think it’s an honor.”
Robins notes that this year’s program features a wide variety of choreography.
“One of the works, ‘The Game,’ is by Erin Muenks, and it deals with the issues of human trafficking and women who have been in a situation of prostitution and uplifting those women,” she said. “Erin is a volunteer with Veronica’s Voice, which works to stop human trafficking. Some of the women from Veronica’s Voice will be in the lobby to talk with people after the show.
“There’s also a piece by Maggie Osgood Nicholls based on the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, and there’s going to be some contemporary aerial dance by Nichole Raab that also utilizes video. Kimberly Holloway is doing a structured improvisational dance, and Jennifer Owen is doing a piece with music provided by a live percussionist.”
Speaking of the music, Robins says the dances go “from not having any music at all to more African and percussive music to contemporary artists like Björk and a lot of classical instrumental music. Much of the music has been mixed and re-mixed by the choreographers.”
Robins thinks City in Motion’s high artistic standards and support of new choreographers make it a vital part of the city’s cultural mix.
“City in Motion has such a history in Kansas City,” she says. “When people think of modern dance, they think of City in Motion. It has outreach programs, education about dance, and we try to support artists in the community.
“We also have a satellite apprentice program for kids from 12 to 18 where they learn different styles of dance and how to put on a show. We try to focus on connecting with the community.
“I was born here, but I grew up in New Jersey. I moved back when I was 16, and I was an apprentice with City in Motion. I would never have believed that I would be as involved with the company as I am now.
“So, from being on all ends of what City in Motion offers, I’m really appreciative of what they do for the community. I was given a chance to dance in Kansas City, and I realized Kansas City does have a strong dance community, and I know that City in Motion has a lot to do with it.”
For tickets, call 816-474-4444. For more information about City in Motion, visit cityinmotion.org.
‘Romeo & Juliet’
The Kansas City Ballet presents Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo & Juliet” for seven performances from Friday through Feb. 26 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. (See Robert Trussell’s article on the cover for more.) For tickets, call 816-931-2232, or visit kcballet.org.
Chamber Ensemble of the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra
In the past several years, China has become something of a Western classical music factory, cranking out musicians capable of playing Frederic Chopin and Sergei Rachmaninoff like so many iPads and iPhones. Luckily, there are also ensembles preserving China’s own tradition of classical music.
The Chamber Ensemble of the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra is one such group, and it will present a program of traditional Chinese music at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Lied Center on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
Using plucked pipas, squawking suonas, bowed erhus and a host of other exotic string and percussion instruments, the group creates magical sounds rarely heard in the West. Stick around after the concert to meet the musicians and get a close-up look at their beautiful instruments.
For tickets, call 785-864-2787 or visit lied.ku.edu.
The Friends of Chamber Music’s Bach Festival continues this week, as pianist Konstantin Lifschitz performs more monumental keyboard music by the great composer. He’ll join the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra for a program of keyboard concertos at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. That will be followed by two big solo concerts: the Goldberg Variations and the “St. Anne” Prelude and Fugue at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Kauffman Center, and “The Art of the Fugue” at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at White Recital Hall, 4545 Cherry St.
Cynthia Siebert, president of the Friends of Chamber Music, calls the Goldberg Variations “the greatest set of variations ever written. Here, Bach shows us the extraordinary range of possible creations, 29 variations in all, that are supported by the simple bass line that undergirds the theme of the gentle aria that both begins and ends this epic journey.”
Speaking of epic journeys, the Bach Festival will conclude Feb. 19 with Bach’s final work, “The Art of the Fugue.” ‘ “The Art of the Fugue’ is Bach’s manifesto for all mankind,” Siebert says. “He takes one simple idea, in only one key, and in the hands of this creative genius, demonstrates how seemingly unlimited the possibilities are with such limited materials. Eighteen miraculous fugues and canons unfold out of this tiny DNA.”
For tickets, call 816-235-6222 or visit chambermusic.org.
Leave it to Timothy McDonald, dean of Rockhurst University’s college of arts and sciences, to dig up musical nuggets by an unknown Giacomo Puccini.
McDonald’s ensemble, Musica Sacra, will perform sacred music by the ancestor of the composer of “Tosca” at 7 p.m. Saturday at St. Francis Xavier Church, 1001 E. 52nd St.
So who was this other Giacomo Puccini?
“He was the great-great-grandfather of the well-known Giacomo Puccini,” McDonald says. “He was born on Jan. 26, 1712, so we’ll be celebrating his 300th birth anniversary by performing one of his Magnificats. The Puccinis were this musical dynasty who were all active around Lucca and Bologna (Italy). There were three succeeding generations who all wrote for the great cathedral of St. Martin in Lucca.
“We did another Magnificat by the elder Puccini a couple of years ago,” McDonald says. “The one we’re doing on this concert is a late work from 1777. We’re also singing six of his vesper psalms.” In addition to music by Puccini the Elder, McDonald has programmed works by Antonio Lotti, Paul Manz and Franz Schubert.
“We’re doing Schubert’s Mass in G,” McDonald says. “I’ve performed it before. It’s a glorious little piece that Schubert wrote when he was a teenager. It’s not a profound piece, but it’s got that Schubertian melodiousness and grace, and in the ‘Crucifixus’ section, it shifts to a minor key and becomes dark and dramatic. The whole work has a sense of drama and lyricism.”
Tickets will be available at the door or call 816-235-6222.
Kansas City Wind Symphony
The Kansas City Wind Symphony led by Phillip Posey will present a concert of contemporary music at 7 tonight at Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village. The group will repeat a portion of the program in a joint performance with the North Winds Symphonic Band at 3 p.m. Feb. 19 at Park Hill South High School, 4500 N.W. River Park Drive. Admission to the concert is free. To learn more about the Kansas City Wind Symphony, visit kcwindsymphony.org.
‘L.A. Phil Live’
Gustavo Dudamel, the flashy young conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is a product of “El Sistema,” Venezuela’s superb music education system, founded by José Antonio Abreu in 1975.
Now Dudamel is bringing his L.A. Philharmonic to Venezuela to join with the Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra for what promises to be a thrilling homecoming concert, and you can watch it live on the big screen at 4 p.m. Saturday in select local movie theaters.
There is only one work on the program, the Symphony No. 8 “The Symphony of a Thousand” by Gustav Mahler. Like the “Resurrection” Symphony, Mahler’s Eighth includes a massive orchestra and chorus and soaring, inspirational music. For tickets and a list of theaters, visit laphil.com.
Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley
Cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley are taking your requests. They want you to choose their program when they perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lied Center at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
Before the concert, go to the Haimovitz and O’Riley page at lied.ku.edu to choose from three classical works by Bernard Hermann, Igor Stravinsky and Anton Webern and three pop selections by Radiohead, Blonde Redhead and the Cocteau Twins. (Personally, I’d vote for “Two Pieces” by Webern and “Heaven or Las Vegas” by the Cocteau Twins.)
For tickets, call 785-864-2787 or go to lied.ku.edu.
Rooting for DiDonato
Joyce DiDonato’s legion of local fans will cheer her on tonight. DiDonato’s “Diva/Divo,” a recording of mezzo-soprano arias for male and female characters, has been nominated for best classical solo. A Grammy win would be a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift for the Prairie Village sweetheart who was born on Feb. 14.
Patrick Neas is program director and host of the morning show for Radio Bach, 96.5 FM HD2, 1660 AM and streaming at www.RadioBach.com.