East Carolina University’s School of Theatre and Dance is kicking off the 2014-2015 ECU/Loessin Playhouse series with the Dance @ Wright showcase, a multi-genre concert that features everything from ballet to hip-hop, on Sept. 19 – 21.
“We’re excited about this show because it’s very audience friendly,” said ECU dance professor Teal Darkenwald. “Sometimes concert dance can be a little intimidating, but most of the work in this show is lighter and more fun.”
The performance is a new venue for the School of Theatre and Dance, because it will be held in Wright Auditorium, rather than McGinnis Theatre, where the series traditionally has been held. “Because McGinnis Theatre is always booked, this gives our dance students an opportunity to have a second main stage performance, instead of just one,” said Darkenwald.
The concert will feature a new hip-hop work by guest choreographer Joe-Joe Smith, an ECU alumnus who has worked with several well-known artists, including Michael Jackson, Katy Perry, Sean “P Diddy” Combs and Nicki Minaj.
ECU dancers perform in a flash mob to promote the Dance @ Wright concert, which will present a wide variety of dance genres. The concert will include a hip-hop piece choreographed by ECU alumnus Joe-Joe Smith, who has worked with performers such as Michael Jackson and Katy Perry.
“The number I choreographed, which will be the first hip-hop piece performed at Wright Auditorium, is entitled ‘Meraki Funk!,’” said Smith. “Meraki” (mA-'rak-E) means to do something with soul, creativity or love; to put something of yourself into your work, which Smith said is exactly what he did in his choreography.
“The eight dancers in my piece are going to be dancing for their lives and giving you that soul and love that they all have for the art of dance,” said Smith. “Just wait, it's going to be sick - epic.”
Smith, who last danced at ECU as a student 10 years ago in the Dance 2005 performance, is also a guest choreographer for ECU’s Dance 2015 show. “It’s a full circle moment,” he said. “I feel so blessed and honored beyond words.”
“It’s great for us to see our alum in action with our students. He’s fabulous, and the interaction between them is so exciting,” said Darkenwald, who is looking forward to her choreographic arrangement, “Wreckage,” being performed in the concert.
“A friend of mine and I collaborated on this work last year,” she said. “She Skyped into my class and we created the choreography over Skype. It was a cool process for the students, because obviously we don’t normally work that way.”
The 2014-2015 season also includes shows such as Tennessee Williams’ American classic “A Streetcar Named Desire” and Cole Porter’s musical comedy “Kiss Me Kate.”
ECU dancers performed a flash mob on Wednesday in front of Wright Auditorium to promote the Dance @ Wright performances. “We hope (the flash mob) will encourage students to come support our show and see what dance is all about,” said Darkenwald.
The performances will be at 8 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sept. 20, and 2 p.m. on Sept. 21.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.ecuarts.com, call 252-328-6826, or go to the McGinnis Theatre Box Office located in the Messick Theatre Arts Center, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.