Seven local dancers will display their athletic abilities and artistic talents during “An Evening of Modern Dance” on March 29-30 at the Whitaker Black Box Theater.
Past and present Statesboro Youth Ballet members Laural Boyles, Ana Grace Evans, Analisa Harter, Anne Lummus, Emma Lummus, Annie O’Neill, Sydney Strickland, as well as Averitt Center Director of Dance Taylor Ellen and guest dancer Julián Morales from the Savannah College of Art and Design, will perform in the 45-minute program which focuses on artistic expression through full-body movement.
Modern dance, which began to develop in the 1920s, is often considered to have emerged as a rejection or rebellion of classical ballet and had its beginnings in gymnastic movements. The idea is to focus on the ‘center’ of the body (as contrast to ballet's emphasis on limbs), coordination between breathing and movement and the relationship with the floor.
“One of the main purposes of this new style,” explained Ellen, “was to create something completely different than ballet. In modern dance, you get the bare feet, the floor work, and inward rotation of legs and the range of motion of the body in comparison to the vertical posture, rotation of the legs, and very specific codified technique and precision of classical ballet. If you watch videos of it, especially early modern dance, you can really see the clear difference and the “rebellion” so to speak that was occurring among the early pioneers of modern dance.”
It took a while for Ellen herself to appreciate the form.
“I spent most of my training growing up being what dancers call a “bunhead”—I loved classical ballet,” said Ellen. “I started taking modern at age nine, and it wasn’t until I graduated from college and began teaching modern that I really found a love for it. For me, and other students who love ballet, modern dance was something like a vitamin—you take it to keep you healthy, to keep you strong, to keep you growing—growth and maturity as a dancer was what it was all about for me over the years. And over the years, as I began to grow and mature as a dancer, I learned to love modern as a dance form itself. It allows you to be creative in the way the body moves, it allows expression, and many other things.”
Tickets for the general-admission performances are $16 ($14 for Averitt members) and $10 for youth and students. They can be purchased at the Averitt Center Main Gallery (33 East Main Street) or the Rosengart Gallery (41 West Main Street), by calling the ticket office at 912-212-2787 or on-line at www.averttcenterforthearts.org.
“In many ways it’s modern art,” said Ellen, “a period of art in which previous traditions were thrown aside to create something unique. It can be about anything, movement for movement’s sake, a story, a thing, and emotion, etc., because of this I think it opens up more possibility for audiences to relate to it and be affected by it.”