Phillips Center brings friends and culture together


Published: Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

The coming week brings two highly anticipated dance premieres, both at the Phillips Center.

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Dance Alive National Ballet's "Kim Tuttle and Friends" features Tuttle, seated at center, and from back left, Elizabeth Graham, Jamie Stone, Judy Skinner, Stephen Saxon, Agnes Klauder, Stella Sung and Oscar Feliu. In foreground is Melissa del Sol.

Aaron Daye/The Gainesville Sun

In "Kim Tuttle and Friends," Dance Alive National Ballet's artistic director debuts a stellar multimedia program Saturday. Internationally applauded musicians and vocalists take center stage; two ballets and a lobby gallery exhibit round out this unique program of fine art.

Tuttle, best known for creating full-length ballets, has instead organized a concert of multiple vignettes from the music world. Although a dozen dancers from Dance Aliveare also featured, Tuttle has reversed the formula, placing emphasis on the musicians and vocalists, with dance providing intermittent accompaniment, so to speak.

"I feel like an impresario," Tuttle laughs. "I'm really on my own with this . . . I first conceived it over a year ago and it's taken so much organization and coordinating."

Prestigious artists include former New York Philharmonic violist Mati Braun, Chilean guitarist and tenor Oscar Feliu and prolific composer Stella Sung, who is presenting a new commission.

"The artists are all people who've been in Dance Alive National Ballet productions themselves," Tuttle explains. "Every one of them has contributed directly to our ballets. All of the visual artists have either created sets, backdrops or posters for us, or provided the company photography."

Saturday's program is thus a means of giving back to these contributors.

"I want to honor their support and their accomplishments, and let people see what we have here in Gainesville. I think what really makes Gainesville special is that we have an enormous amount of good arts here.

"It's really not about the dancers - it's showing how the company, and all of us, are part of the whole."

Vocalists include sopranos Agnes Klauder and JoAnne Stephenson and bass-baritones Stephen Saxon and Jamie Stone. Tuttle, former staff pianist of Stuttgart Ballet, accompanies all on piano. Choreographer Judy Skinner's popular "Sincerely" is one of the ballets featured.

There are six gallery artists, with works displayed in the lobby. They are Patrick Giles, Catherine Goldman, Norman Jensen, Johnston Photography, Colleen Rand and Margaret Ross Tolbert.

The long-awaited Gainesville premier of "Movement (R)evolution Africa: a Story of an Art Form in Four Acts" is at 7:30 p.m. Monday. The film was first screened over a year ago at New York's Dance on Camera film festival, where it was nominated for the Jury Prize. Since that time it has been featured across the globe, from Amsterdam to Vancouver, Brazil to Prague and Nigeria to Germany. It also has also been presented in dozens of U.S. cities, but Monday is the first public screening at home in Gainesville.

In 2007, The Village Voice wrote, "For shattering, deeply-conscientious dancing alone, this film is a knockout."

The film was created and directed by Gainesville's Joan Frosch, a dance professor and co-director of UF's Center for World Arts. It concerns the contemporary, creative drives of nine fascinating African choreographers who interpret their native heritage while confronting its cliché.

The UF Center for Arts and Public Policy will present the free film as part of the one-week residency of Compagnie Jant-Bi (a contemporary troupe from Senegal) and Urban Bush Women (the acclaimed all-female, African-American company.)

Artists from both companies, which are featured in the film, will be present after the screening for a discussion with the audience.

The residency will culminate in the live performance of "L'Escale de Memoire" on Jan. 17 at the Phillips Center. It is the film, however, which reveals the birth moment of the Jan.17 performance, recording when artists from both companies first meet and interact.

Sarah Ingley can be reached at Scene@gvillesun.com.

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