The Nevada Union High School Theatrical Dance program proudly presents Spring for Dance, the biggest annual N.U. dance production of the year. Through collaboration with the art department and set design classes, each dance piece in this year’s show is connected to visual art, including over 30 paintings and set pieces created by Nevada Union art students.
Some of the dance pieces in this show were inspired by famous works of art, including the impressionist paintings of Edgar Degas. The N.U. art students replicated three Degas paintings to serve as a backdrop for the romantic ballet piece choreographed by NU Dance Teacher Courtney Wadman. The dancers, adorned in long white tutus and pointe shoes, mimic the poses of ballerinas painted on the canvases, and gradually the dancers begin to move, as though the paintings themselves come to life. Other pieces in the show were choreographed without a specific artwork in mind, but the N.U. art students were able to attend rehearsals or watch videos of the dance pieces and design original sketches inspired by the dance.
All of the students involved in dance and art this year at N.U. learned more about dance history and art history through this collaborative process. For example, former professional dancer and local choreographer/teacher, Karen Attix, set a piece inspired by the legendary modern dance pioneer, Merce Cunningham. Ms. Attix, who danced professionally for Cunningham for several years, shared personal stories of her experiences in the company and taught master classes in Cunningham technique. Students watched videos of Cunningham’s work with large painted backdrops created by the famous painter, Paul Klee, set to innovative musical scores by John Cage. The N.U. art students also learned about the collaboration between Cunningham and Klee as inspiration for an art piece they designed for Ms. Attix’s dance choreography.
The variety in visual art compliments the variety in dance styles, ranging from classical to contemporary dance. In addition to original choreography by dance teacher Courtney Wadman and assistant director Gaia Weiss, this show features works by three professional dancers from New York, one from Utah, one from Los Angeles, as well as several local dancers and choreographers.
The show opens with a musical theatre tap dance number choreographed by Sommer Wadman, set to music from Cabaret. As the show progresses, audience members will enjoy the rich diversity in all of the dance numbers, from a classical ballet quartet en pointe from Carmen, staged by local ballet teacher Tishia Hicks, to an authentic hula dance choreographed by N.U. math teacher and hula aficionado, Jordan Horowitz, who teaches geometry full time but volunteered to set a hula dance and to teach lei-making to 35 intermediate dance students. This dance, along with selected student choreographed pieces, competed in theatre and world dance categories at the Ohlone Festival in Fremont last month. Nevada Union Theatrical Dance received first place in both dance categories at the festival this year, including the Judge’s Award for Best Student Choreography to N.U. senior and advanced dancer Monique McDowell for her piece, “The Cry for Equality.”
Spring for Dance concludes with a fusion of jazz and contemporary ballet choreographed by alumnus Jesse Beck, who created an elaborate circus-themed piece inspired by the e.e. cummings quote, “Damn everything but the circus.” With card tricks, conjoined twins, contortionists, and a bearded lady, this demented circus piece will surely leave audience members impressed by the diverse talent in the performers and choreographers for this high school dance production.
Don’t miss this opportunity to support the more than 120 dancers from the advanced, intermediate, and beginning level dance classes, as well as all of the art and set design students who contributed their talents to this show. These students have worked very hard, attending after-school and weekend rehearsals for the past eight months to prepare for five performances of Spring for Dance: Friday, April 25th and Saturday, April 26th at 7:00 p.m., Sunday, April 27th at 2:00 p.m., as well as Friday, May 2nd and Saturday, May 3rd at 7:00 p.m. All performances will be in the Don Baggett Theater at Nevada Union High School, 11761 Ridge Road, Grass Valley, CA 95945.
Tickets are $10, $12, or $15, depending on seating location. All seating is reserved. Tickets are available online at www.nevadauniondance.com. Tickets can also be purchased in advance in the theatre lobby on April 22, 23, 24, 30, and May 1 from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. or at the box office an hour before the performance. For more information, visit our website or call the NU Dance Department at (530) 273-4431 extension 2103.