Weekend filled with concert dance shows

Sun Country Dance Theatre's premiere of “Little Red Riding Hood” features Jessica Keene as Little Red Riding Hood, right, and Elaina Buffkin as the Duck on Sunday at the P.K. Yonge Performing Arts Center.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.

This weekend gives audiences three opportunities to enjoy concert dance: the classical Indian dance national tour of “Gatha Odissi” Friday at 6 p.m.; Sun Country Dance Theatre's premiere of an original story ballet, “Little Red Riding Hood,” at 3 p.m. Sunday; and Dance Theatre of Santa Fe's “Elements of Style” both Friday and Saturday with shows at 7:30 p.m.

Orissa Dance Academy, based in San Diego, is on a North American tour of its show “Gatha Odissi: A Journey From Temple to Stage.”

Eleven male and female dancers, well known internationally within the realm of Indian dance, will perform innovative choreography that remains within the traditional Odissi framework while incorporating contemporary themes.

“Gatha Odissi” is presented by San Diego's Center for World Music and by the University of Florida's Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra).

The tour hits P.K. Yonge Performing Arts Center Friday at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20, and are available at the door or in advance by calling 448-1633.

Also at P.K. Yonge, “Little Red Riding Hood” premieres Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $7, at the door at P.K. Yonge or in advance at Sun Country Sports Center's Jonesville location.

The ballet was conceived and choreographed by Sun Country Dance Theatre director Judy Benton.

Benton explains how she lightened the narrative of “Little Red Riding Hood.”

“A lot of fairy tales are kind of gruesome,” she says. “But our version is comic, with a lot of humor from the Wolf character.”

“I knew right away that we weren't going to cut the grandmother open,” she laughs. “No one gets eaten up in our adaptation.”

Benton also needed to adapt the fairy tale to create sufficient scenes and roles for a ballet company.

“The opening scene is Little Red's birthday party,” Benton says. “We meet her family and friends and see how she gets her red cape. The second scene is a forest setting. As she's traveling to her grandma's, Little Red meets characters from Fireflies to a Phoenix to a Frog Prince.”

The title role is danced by Gainesville High School ninth-grader Jessica Keene, who will study this summer at FSU's Summer Intensive. Savannah Johnson, who is invited to train at Orlando Ballet School, dances the Phoenix. Elaina Buffkin, also studying under Orlando Ballet's Summer Intensive, dances the role of Little Red's best friend the Duck.

Sun Country Dance Theatre is the performing company of Sun Country Sports Center's dance studio division. In its fifth year, Sun Country Dance Theatre is a youth company emphasizing classical and contemporary ballet, modern and jazz dance.

Works in these dance styles will immediately follow “Little Red Riding Hood”, which is a one-act ballet, to complete Saturday's program. Guest performers at the SCDT show include Floridance, of UF, and guest choreographers include Alora Haynes, Santa Fe College Fine Arts Chair.

Speaking of SFC, Dance Theatre of Santa Fe has its own production this weekend, “Elements of Style 2013.”

Performances are 7:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday at the beautiful new SF Fine Arts Hall.

“Elements of Style” is the SF dance department's largest annual production, with more than 50 dancers onstage.

The program features works from SF faculty, students and guest artists. Guest performers include Douglas Gillespie of Kate Weare Company.

Gillespie, himself a former SF student, also choreographed a piece for current students titled “Interchange.” The piece represented SFC at Southeastern American College Dance Festival, where judges gave “Interchange” high acclaim.

Guest choreographers also include jazz master Antolino Alvarez. Sante Fe faculty members Tari Kendall, Alora Haynes, Jessica Mayhew, Melissa Canto and Sarah Harkness-Sebastian unveil their new works to complete the diverse program.

Several graduating SF dancers are heading to dance programs, some prestigious, at the likes of FSU, USF, UF and Elon University.

It is also well worth mentioning in advance that later this month, Santa Fe will host Chicago's Joffrey Ballet on April 27 at the Fine Arts Hall. Tickets for the Saturday performance are $12 to $15, an amazing rate for one of the world's best ballet companies on a national tour, and are available through the SF Fine Arts Hall box office (395-4181).

The Joffrey's 24 company dancers will perform repertory by renowned choreographers Gerald Arpino, Larry Kegwin and Dwight Roden.

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