City in Motion Dance Theater’s spring show goes with the flow

04/27/2014 9:12 PM

04/27/2014 9:12 PM

April showers bring May ballet.

City in Motion Dance Theater will present “Altered Currents,” a program of dance highlighted by two water-drenched works, on Friday, Saturday and May 4 at the H Block City Stage Theater in Union Station.

“We have two pieces that are about the element of water,” said Andrea Skowronek, co-artistic director of City in Motion. “One of them is my piece, ‘Sheets of Rain.’ It’s a dance with umbrellas and takes place in the rain.

“The other by Stephanie Whittler is called ‘Poems of the Sea’ and is inspired by the ocean. So we thought water, currents and then we thought altered currents because it’s humans, choreographers, altering movement, altering motion.”

“Altered Currents” will begin with “Sheets of Rain.”

The hammered dulcimer score by Jem Moore is “very repetitive, so it sounds like rain,” Skowronek says. “The music definitely inspired me.

“I also wanted to work with props, umbrellas. So it has six female dancers, and there’s lots of patterns, swirling, connecting, separating. I wanted to do a piece like ‘Singing in the Rain’ or ‘Mary Poppins,’ where you have this umbrella that adds this extra lightness.

“It just seems like it would be so much fun to dance in the rain with an umbrella. That’s the spirit of the piece.”

The closing dance, “Poems of the Sea,” will feature Robert Lamar Sims performing piano music by Ernest Bloch. The music is reminiscent of the music of Claude Debussy, Skowronek says, “really lovely and very danceable, but rhythmically tricky.”

In between the waterworks will be five other dances, including a work by guest choreographer M. Suzanne Ryan Strati called “Grandparents.”

Strati asked the dancers about memories of their grandparents, Skowronek said. “Then she worked with them on movement phrases that connected to the words and put together a kind of collage, so the dancers are speaking words and also dancing.

“It’s very poignant, but some of this dialogue is very funny, so the audience will also be laughing. I think it’s unusual in one piece of choreography to have your emotions range from hilarious laughter to real sadness and sorrow.”

City in Motion has had its ups and downs, changing spaces and chasing funding, but things are in a real groove right now, with an exciting development on the horizon.

Bob Berkebile with BNIM Architects has spearheaded a group called Kansas City Sustainable Development Partners. Last year it purchased the Westport Middle School at 300 E. 39th St. to develop as a facility in which nonprofits could share space, and City in Motion is in that proposal.

Berkebile’s group also wanted to purchase Westport High School, but the Kansas City School Board has balked at selling that building. Now the middle school project will be rethought and redesigned.

Marcy Smalley, president of City in Motion’s board of directors, is excited by the possibility of her organization, currently on the second floor at 3925 Main St., moving to the new facility.

“What we would like to do is have more synergy with our local neighborhood,” she said. “For example, they’re looking at mixed-used development at the Westport Middle School with residential. So people who live nearby can take dance classes, and we hope as a second phase to have some performance space. We are working to move from good to great.”

Berkebile agrees that City in Motion would be a perfect fit for the Westport Middle School project.

“We want City in Motion to be a part of this,” he said. “This is a great location for them, they’re a great organization, and we think the things they do would be really synergistic with a number of the other tenants.

“I hope if this works out as I think it will that you’ll see a lot of new energy in that location with art and creativity and community vitality we haven’t seen in that part of the city for a while. I think everyone in the conversation is energized by the potential, but now we have to do the hard work to figure out how to make it happen.”

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. May 4 at H Block City Stage Theater, Union Station. $10-$20. 816-235-6222 or CityInMotion.org. Helzberg Hall Organ, Nathan Laube

Organist Nathan Laube will put the Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant organ through its paces with a recital of grandiose music Thursday in Helzberg Hall.

Laube received his master’s degree in organ performance from the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart, Germany, and is on the faculty of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., so he knows how to get a mighty sound out of an organ. Be prepared for a sonic spectacular.

On the recital, presented by the Kansas City Symphony, are a romantic masterpiece by Charles-Marie Widor, the Symphonie pour Grand Orgue, Op. 42 No. 5, as well as works by Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Liszt and Joseph Jongen.

7 p.m. Thursday. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $15-$35. 816-471-0400 or KCSymphony.org. Fine Arts Chorale

After the Fine Arts Chorale’s artistic director, Terri Teal, announced that she was resigning as music director at the end of this season, the chorale’s board decided to disband the group, and the choir is about to present its final two concerts. But not to worry. Like the proverbial phoenix, a new Fine Arts Chorale will rise in its place.

The board recently decided to transfer the assets of the group to Geoff Wilcken, a composer who has written many works for the chorale and has also served as its accompanist and arranger. He will choose a new name for the group, and there will be a new board of directors, but many of the singers are expected to continue under Wilcken, who is a highly respected colleague.

The chorale’s final program is called “Inner Light.” It features settings of words by authors who were committed to bringing light into an often benighted, unjust world, people like Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.

The theme for this last season of the Fine Arts Chorale has been light, and it’s good to know the chorale’s light will not go out. Best of luck to Wilcken and company.

3:30 p.m. Sunday at First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont St., Lawrence, and 7:30 p.m. May 3 at Southminster Presbyterian Church, 6306 Roe Ave., Prairie Village. The Lawrence concert is free; the Prairie Village concert is $5-$15. 816-235-6222 or FineArtsChoraleKC.org. Musica Sacra

Timothy McDonald will lead the Musica Sacra Chorus and Orchestra in its final concert of the season tonight in St. Francis Xavier Church. As we’ve come to expect from McDonald (who is also a classical reviewer for The Kansas City Star), he has chosen a rare work from the classical era, the Requiem in C minor by Michael Haydn, Franz Joseph Haydn’s baby brother.

“He wrote it in 1771 for the funeral of Sigmund Schrattenbach, the prince-archbishop of Salzburg,” McDonald said. “In my opinion, this is the other great classical era Requiem, composed two decades before Mozart’s incomplete masterpiece and clearly a model for Mozart’s work. The teenaged Mozart and his father, Leopold, were among the orchestra members at the first performance.”

Arrive at 6:15 and McDonald will share more enlightening information when he presents his popular “Live Program Notes.”

7 p.m. Sunday at St. Francis Xavier Church, 1001 E. 52nd St. $12-$18. Tickets available at the door or Rockhurst.edu. Heritage Philharmonic

James Murray will lead the Heritage Philharmonic in a concert Saturday at Tri-City Ministries in Independence. The concert will feature the winners of the Young Artists Competition co-sponsored by the Kansas City Music Teachers Association. These young musicians are remarkable, so this is sure to be an outstanding concert, and it’s absolutely free.

7:30 p.m. Saturday at Tri-City Ministries, 4500 Little Blue Parkway, Independence. Free. HeritagePhilharmonic.org. Beatrice Santner

Kansas City lost a great champion of classical music when Beatrice Fleo Santner died April 18. For the past 15 years, Santner had served as director of music and liturgy at Visitation Church. She also founded Venue Visitation, a classical music series that presents concerts in Visitation by local and national musicians.

Three years ago, Santner hired Terri Goddard to be business manager of Venue Visitation to help promote the series and maintain its high level of quality. Two years ago, Goddard became executive director, and Santner became president of the board.

“Beatrice quickly became not only my boss, but my friend,” Goddard said. “Beatrice loved classical and sacred music, and she loved Visitation. Venue Visitation was her way to share beautiful music in a beautiful venue with the wider community. It was always her mission to keep ticket prices low or free to allow everyone the opportunity to enjoy this great music. We will do our best to carry on what she started.”

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