2013 Dance Concert Gala brings back Mason graduate

George Mason University's 2013 School of Dance Gala provides students with an opportunity to showcase their talent and work with professional dancers (photo by of Maurice Jones).
George Mason University's 2013 School of Dance Gala provides students with an opportunity to showcase their talent and work with professional dancers (photo by of Maurice Jones).

This weekend George Mason University will host the 2013 Mason Dance Company Gala Concert. The Gala is a two-day event, taking place on Friday, March 22 and Saturday March 23 at Mason’s Center for the Arts.

This is the 17th year that the Gala will be presented by the School of Dance. It is a culmination of several months of hard work and planning on the part of the choreographers, performers and instructors that participate in the performances.

Mason School of Dance students perform a work from this year's Dance Gala during a dress rehersal (photo by Maurice Jones).

Bronwyn Updike, a junior majoring in dance, explained that the process for students starts in September with auditions for the performance pieces. After that, the students that are selected to perform in the Gala begin a residency, which she explains as a week-long process where dancers learn the choreography under the tutelage of the choreographer. Weekly rehearsals continue through March, right up until the day of the Gala.

In an interview conducted by email, Elizabeth “Buffy” Price, director of Mason’s School of Dance, said that this year’s Gala “is a very challenging and varied program that clearly demonstrates the versatility of our dancers. The works range from a frenetic, driving commentary piece about contemporary globalization, followed by a tender duet.”

The Gala is comprised of five performances spread over the course of two days. Performances will include: “Consumed” by Kate Skarpetowska, “Berceuse” by Diane Coburn Bruning, “Lareigne” by Stephen Petronio, “New Second Line” by Camille Brown and the premier piece “Topos” by William Smith III.

Students rehearse for this year's Dance Gala featuring a choreographed piece by former Mason student, William Smith III who is now with the Mark Morris Dance Group (photo by Maurice Jones).

Price describes “Topos” as “a sweeping landscape of joyous possibility; an edgy, precise, extremely athletic contemporary piece follows, and the final piece celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit set to the music of New Orleans jazz.”

What makes this year’s Gala particularly exciting is the return of Smith, a 2007 graduate from Mason’s School of Dance who is now a member of the famed Mark Morris Dance Group. Smith choreographed “Topos” for this year’s Gala and rehearsed with students during the residency week. Price describes Smith’s return as a choreographer as “incredibly rewarding.”

Updike is among the dancers performing “Topos” at this weekend’s Gala event. He had the opportunity to work with Smith one-on-one to learn the choreography.

“Working with Billy was incredible. It was such a special opportunity for us because he is a Mason alumnus,” said Updike. “He has been where we are and knows what we are going through. Knowing all of this made it easier and more comforting to work with him. There was less pressure because we felt that we all understood each other.”

The Gala is sure to be a great event, showcasing many of the talented dancers trained through Mason’s School of Dance. The Gala starts at 8 p.m. Friday night.

To purchase tickets visit the Center for the Arts's website or purchase tickets at the boxoffice. 

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