Spotlight on the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre’s spring show
The lights dim; the audience waits for the first glimpse of the first dancer onstage. In this way, the hours of practice, the tiniest detail of choreography, every stitch in a costume and note in a song come together: the ARDT is performing again.
The Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre features the best talents of every level at UA. Undergraduate students perform pieces choreographed by faculty in the dance department. MFA graduate students specializing in costume design create a wardrobe for each dancer. Collins Goss, assistant to Professor Cornelius Carter, artistic director of the ARDT, calls it a “giant labor of love.”
And it’s all original. The choreography is imaginative and surprising, and even while staging classics such as Don Quixote, the ARDT gravitates toward the theatrical and away from the traditional.
Their rendition of Cervantes’ tale opens with a lively overture and ensemble introduction, interrupted by Don Quixote, who tells with slower, more wistful movements of his yearning for adventure. The deliberately clumsy Sancho Panza provides striking contrast, and the adventure moves the audience to sorrow and laughter.
The second half of the show is a tribute to the civil rights movement — in particular the struggles of Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood, the first African-American students to enroll at the University. Another piece pays homage to Whitney Houston and her musical influence.
Finally, in the closing number, artful use of hidden pyrotechnics surprises and intrigues the audience, as several dancers quickly reveal live flames hidden in the palm of their hands. It feels like a magic trick, and as with the whole show, the audience sees none of the seams. It’s what lures us back to enjoy each semester’s new Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre performance.
The spring performance of the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre runs from February 19-23 in the Morgan Hall auditorium. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19-21; 5:30 p.m. Feb. 22; and 2 p.m. Feb. 23. Tickets are $18 adults, $15 faculty/staff/seniors, $12 student. More information: theatre.ua.edu/productions/tickets/.