Tag Archive: louis kavouras


Kavouras' choreography embodied the splintering complexity of glass in many instances.

UNLV’s dance department created a concert to honor Tiffany Studios in New York, which is an institution committed to maintaining traditions of scrupulous commitment to quality. This studio doesn’t turn out dancers, though. It turns out lamp shades.

“Glassworks” was a three-piece showcase performed on Oct. 21 and 22 that celebrated the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, an artist with a flair for stained glass and a vision of bringing that to people at every economic level. He believed that the beauty of glass should be shared with anyone who wants to partake of it. Most dancers can relate.

Louis Kavouras choreographed the opening number of the concert, an arching modern piece with an unpronounceable name. The title is the entirety of Schrodinger’s equation, a mess of Greek letters and symbols that describes how the quantum state of a system changes over time. Its solutions describe such things as particles and waves of light and this lofty, cerebral tone twined through his choreography.

Deep strings and a visually compelling set played host to a flock of dancers with good musicality and commendable spacial awareness. The piece churned with splintered factions of dancers, grouping, moving, regrouping, lemming-like at times but almost constantly in motion. The effect was one of near chaos, or many stories at once, or passing time.

The lighting contributed to this; the stage was a beige canvas continually painted with light and the set was gorgeous: stained glass-style hangings draped the wings and a translucent scrim emblazoned with geometric patterns completed the motif. The differing dynamics of movement undulated throughout and gave way to a quiet, amber sunset. The audience whooped.

Choreographer Richard Havey's jovial personality shone through in "Unbroken Times."

Richard Havey brought a delightful, 1950s-jazz-meets-the-millennial-generation with “Unbroken Times,” an energetic jazz piece underscored by a set of magentas and greens. Characters, extravagantly dressed in skirts, slacks and heels, alternated between big battements, rond de jambes and coupe seconds, nicely interspersed with sections of flouncing about in character. There was a rambunctious hipster vibe to the number, something akin to the visual cacophony of fine society with musings about the passing of time thrown in for fun. Havey was doing what he does best, and it was a wonderful change of pace for the show.

Cathy Allen’s “Shattered” summed up the performance with a postmodern feel, a curious set and an even more perplexing soundtrack. The overall effect was one of peeking at a foreign situation; watching from a safe distance seems wise and more mysteries keep presenting themselves as the interactions continue. A beautiful mobile dangled shapes of translucent, colored material over an otherwise tan stage. Dancers in blues and greens interacted beneath this silent spectre, reaching to it occasionally but keeping it at a level of oblique awareness throughout. It was simply interesting to watch and the disconcerting music, composed by UNLV’s Beth Mehocic, only added to the supervenient vibe.

“Glassworks,” as abstract as the concept may seem, was a multifaceted exploration of the nature of art, no matter the medium. The set itself deserves a tip of the hat; a small note in the program acknowledged the work of dance majors in building the phenomenal pieces, and the time these took was evident. The concert’s impact has much to do with the parts of the stage that weren’t moving as the parts that were. Visual beauty exists on several levels, after all, and this show made that quite apparent.

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A company based out of Philadelphia shook up UNLV’s studio theater on Feb. 25 and 26 with classic modern dance that was spiked with contemporary twists. Jeanne Ruddy, a former member of Martha Graham’s company, choreographed a piece, with additional works by Zvi Gotheiner, Jane Comfort and Peter Sparling and Janet Lilly comprising the first half of the concert. A preview of the UNLV-generated “Dancescapes” took over the second act.

Janet Philla in "Significant Soil"

For being separate entities, the two sections were remarkably well-matched. The show began with “Significant Soil,” a solo choreographed by Ruddy and danced by Janet Philla or Christine Taylor, depending on the concert. The piece played on novelty a bit with a man-sized coil dangling from the ceiling and stretched the length of the stage, but the prop was tastefully incorporated. The movement was breath-centered and emotional, depicting inner torment well and reminding the audience why, exactly, modern dance can be so enjoyable to watch.

“Enflold,” by Gotheiner and danced by Rick Callender and Melissa Chisena, also utilized set pieces well. The colloquial number was performed on a bench and, considering the constraints of remaining largely stationary, the choreography was inventive and elaborate. Literal themes were taken a step further with “The System,” a work about relationships that was equally tumultuous and contemplative. Choreographers Sparling and Lilly have created a unique and balanced piece that explored abstract movement without losing the attention of the audience. Dancers Callender and Janet Philla exemplified this with vibrant personalities and committed character-work.

“Four Screaming Women,” the culmination of the first act, was less a dance piece than an item of social commentary. Callender, Philla, Taylor and Meredith Riley-Stewart stood onstage and performed a symphony of repetitive movements, each accompanied by a phrase like “That’s wrong, that’s right,” “Is that what you want?” or “Did you vote? Did you win?” The call-and-response construction was often humorous, always entertaining and stopped just short of being obnoxious. Comfort, the choreographer, constructed the piece extremely well with mixed meters and wisely chosen phrases that begged the question, “Do we really sound like that?”

Melissa Chisena, Janet Philla and Meredith Riley-Stewart in "No Fear of Flying"

The second act, a mini-concert in itself, was more sympathetic to jazz than to modern but was tonally similarly to the first. Mark Dendy’s “No Fear of Flying,” performed by Chisena, Philla and Riley-Stewart, was a montage of strong female characterizations underscored by thought-provoking themes and a playful mood. A flight-attendent-style briefing for the audience, complete with blue-suited dancers with plastic smiles, was a high point of the piece and could have been a number in itself.

“At First Sight,” by Louis Kavouras, was fun and frolicsome and dancers Rachael Hayner and Alex Lum exploited this to the utmost. The two characters met, fell in love and enjoyed a fleeting few minutes of dewey-eyed romance before Hayner, quirky and exuding effortlessness, pilfered Lum’s backpack and traipsed away. Lum was adorable in his crestfallenness, completing the piece perfectly.

“The V Files Medley” by Vikki Baltimore-Dale and “Prelude, Fugue, Postlude” by Dolly Kelepecz were the two most traditional pieces and added a note of solidity to the show. Baltimore-Dale did well by her dancers with edgy undulations and featured solos, although unison choreography could have been stronger. Amanda Bakalas, Anna Fazio, Jesus Nanci, Lum and Hayner each approached the choreography differently and this, accompanied by Baltimore-Dale’s signature Afro vibe, made the number dynamic and exciting.

Rachael Hayner, Alex Lum and Jesus Nanci in "Prelude, Fugue, Postlude"

Kelepecz’s piece began with nontraditional lifts and choreography that was clean, straightforward and well-paired with the music. A fission-fusion method of staging was engaging to follow and avoided the static “principal and corps de ballet” configuration. The five dancers from Baltimore-Dale’s piece performed Kelepecz’s as well — the red-blooded jazz made for an interesting undercurrent and Kelepecz used this energy artfully.

Margot Mink Colbert’s “Swan Homage” also sidestepped the standard ballet, although for entirely different reasons. Nanci, clad in austere blacks and whites, danced alongside a projected image of Anna Pavlova performing Michel Fokine’s choreography from the 20th century. The effect was pleasantly perplexing with a nod to the humorous and summed up the concert nicely:

Odd and enjoyable.

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The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Department of Dance recently joined forces with  dancers from the Korea National Sport University (KNSU), located in South Korea, for a production called “Together 3.” Together (get the pun?),  they performed the third installment of their co-choreographed concert series at the Judy Bayley Theatre on Oct. 1 and 2.

Cast of "Together 3"

Interestingly, collaboration seemed to be in short supply. Only one piece was actually comprised of dancers from both institutions and the two acts themselves were largely divided: only one piece in the first act was created by someone other than a UNLV faculty member. The second act was created entirely by KNSU choreographers.

"Glyph"One of the things that stood out the most was the lighting design. The production management program, run by Peter Jakubowski, is unique in that it allows students to study production elements (like lighting and sound) intensively. The student aspect resulted in much experimentation, most of which was positive. In this, the lighting design did exactly what it was supposed to: quietly exemplify the art onstage.

As far as dance elements go, the two acts were very different.

For UNLV, nondenominational modern was the mainstay. This was contrasted with KNSU’s sparkling ballet that battemented off the second act, followed by their own version of contemporary jazz and modern.

"Glyph"

Granted, UNLV started the concert off strongly with “Glyph,” a jazz piece that had a sassy modern vibe, choreographed by Richard Havey. The staging and unison sections were excellent, indicating long and arduous rehearsals. The length of the piece was also appropriate and put the audience in mind of old-school concert dance, lending an auspicious start to the show.

Margot Mink Colbert’s “After the Waltz” was a dissonant, disconcerting piece that elicited a “hmm …” and a head-tip. The intent could have been made more clear, but the musicality on the part of the dancers was undeniable. The bright turquoise costumes were striking and added a strong visual element to a mildly cacophonous piece.

"After the Waltz"

“No Where to Call Home” and “Sojourner,” choreographed by Cathy Allen and Vikki Baltimore-Dale, respectively, epitomized college dance in some questionable ways. “No Where” was strong visually but was still reminiscent of a movie with underdeveloped characters: at the end of it, the audience isn’t quite sure it cares.

“Sojourner” had many of the elements of a strong number and did especially well for the male dancers. The music, as Dale’s often is, was viscerally exciting and withdrew a respectable response from the audience. However, its length went unjustified by the slightly less-than-hard-hitting energy behind the movement.

Louis Kavouras and James Jeon (the lone Korean creator in the first act) both stood out as strong choreographers. Kavouras’ “At First Sight” was an exuberant study of two rag-tag characters and a bench. The exaggerated interactions provided unexpected comedy and a lighthearted reprieve and the chemistry between dancers was evident.

Jeon’s “Moves” had a persistent urgency about it but began and ended in stillness, creating an interesting juxtaposition. Staging patterns were slightly muddy, but the floor-work and landings were, especially on the parts of the KNSU dancers, silent and precise. Overall, it continued along the contemplative, ethereal line of the rest of the first act.

“Mozart,” also choreographed by Jeon, opened the second act with pattering bourrées, smart temp de quise, pert echappes, delicate port de bras and pointework that seemed to pluck the music’s violin strings. The costumes were spectacular and the small corps was endearing in its earnestness. There were still small indicators of student-dom, but they were few and forgivable. The strong ballet was refreshing nonetheless.

“Paradise,” choreographed by Kim Hyun Nam, was a bright-eyed piece featuring strong character work, an exploration theme and bare feet. The strength of the dancers was evident and much of the animated choreography was simply adorable.

The last two pieces, “Impressions of Korea” and “Feel the Sweet Story,” featured sweeping dynamics and choreography from Baek Hyun Soon, James Jeon and Lee Ye Soon. The last piece segued into the finale and a hand-shaking affair between both schools.

The partnership between UNLV and KNSU has existed for a number of years and provides an international network for students in both departments. KNSU attendees come to the U.S. for a week, rehearse with UNLV dancers and take class, then perform in the concert in Vegas.

Now, UNLV dance students are hopping on a plane to South Korea, where they will go through the same thing in Seoul, the national capital.

There were a few small blips in the mechanics of the concert. Pauses in between numbers are understandable in some cases, but bringing the house lights up seems unnecessary. The overall length could have been shorter, although the pacing was fairly smooth.

Overall, the concert was certainly respectable. Keep an eye out for the gems: they’re in there.