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Stretching the stage

Perry-Mansfield presents an evening of overcoming challenges

A past performance of "An Evening of Dance" at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.
Courtesy photo

Key points

¤ An Evening of Dance ¤ 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday ¤ Main Studio at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp ¤ $12 for adults; $10 for ages 10 and younger ¤ 879-7125

Choreographer Julie Ludwick works with a form of dancing in which she has very little control – the piece she choreographed for “An Evening of Dance” is performed on a single-point trapeze.

“It is not like a swing,” Ludwick said. “It’s harder to control because it spins and goes in circles. You can’t ever get it to go in a straight line.”

Her inspiration for the piece came from early aviators who performed daredevil acts such as standing on the wings of planes and doing loopty-loops, she said.



“We take it to the limit and still call it dance,” she said.

The four trapezes in Ludwick’s “An Evening of Dance” piece are about 5 feet off the ground.



“The (dancers) use the full scope of vertical and horizontal space – every cubic inch,” Ludwick said. “We could stretch our dancers if only we could stretch the theater.”

The piece will be performed to live music composed and played by Ludwick’s husband, Ken Pierson. It is their 13th collaboration.

“There will be a few moments when the audience will gasp,” show director Linda Kent said. “It’s thrilling and beautiful. It’s not just tricks – there’s a story to be told.”

The piece titled “On Strings” tells the tale of a puppet master and his marionettes through modern contemporary jazz movements.

Key points

¤ An Evening of Dance

¤ 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday

¤ Main Studio at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp

¤ $12 for adults; $10 for ages 10 and younger

¤ 879-7125

“The puppet master creates a family of puppets, and then you see that he has a favorite,” said Nicholas Villeneuve. “There’s a give and take between them and the person who made them. There’s a few eerie moments when they try to take over, but it really doesn’t work.”

Villeneuve challenged his students with partner work in which they learned to share one another’s weight and develop trust.

“It’s a great place for them to test the waters out and find out about themselves and test their strength,” he said.

Rehearsing for the show gives students an opportunity to experience some challenges they will face as professional dancers.

“It’s a good test to see if they want to be a dancer, because you have to dance all day and night,” Ludwick said.

Another aspect of being in a professional company is the chance to practice and perform to live music.

“Live music is a wonderful inspiration and challenge,” Kent said. “Dancers get so used to tapes and where the pauses are, but live music brings out spontaneity. We are able to give them that experience.”

Kent tries to incorporate pieces into the show every year that have already been staged and others that are created for the dancers at the camp. Of the eight pieces in the show that span the spectrum of ballet, point, jazz, modern and trapeze, five of them are new creations.

“I love rehearsing and seeing how they (the dancers) respond,” Kent said. “Everybody is so essential and present in every moment with their energy. We give them challenges and watch them rise to them.”


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