University Dance Company Presents its Fall 2023 Concert
University of Kansas Department of Theatre & Dance faculty members, along with a regional guest choreographer, will present work in ballet, hip hop, and modern/contemporary dance styles at the University Dance Company Fall Concert November 3 and 4 at 7:30pm and Nov. 5 at 2:30pm.
Featured faculty choreographers are Ashley Brittingham, Michelle Heffner Hayes, Shannon Stewart, and Maya Tillman-Rayton. They are joined by regional guest choreographer Logan Pachciarz. Several of the works convey unique interpretations of a “mythos” theme buoyed by the Department’s award-winning scenography. In total, 47 students will perform, including a large ensemble of tap dancers. The concert features student-choreographed works by Jayhawk Tap Company.
The UDC Fall Concert will be presented in the Crafton-Preyer Theatre at Murphy Hall. Tickets are available for purchase on the UDC Fall Concert performance web page, by calling 785-864-3982, or in-person at the box office in Murphy Hall Monday-Friday noon-5pm. Additionally, the Nov. 3 and 5 performances will be livestreamed. For livestream tickets and access, see dance.ku.edu/streaming.
“Not all dance has a narrative, but it is fascinating to see what unfolds when story or text is interpreted through dance. Movement contains multitudes,” said Michelle Heffner Hayes, KU professor and UDC Fall Concert producer and choreographer.
Pachciarz is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Moving Arts in Kansas City, Mo. and previously performed with Twyla Tharp, Boston Ballet, and Kansas City Ballet. He choreographed and set his four-part contemporary ballet on students during a two-week intensive rehearsal process earlier this fall. He presents The Promise as the concert’s finale. His participation in the UDC Fall Concert is made possible in part by the Janet Hamburg Visiting Artist Fund.
Brittingham is a full-time lecturer in the Department and associate producer of the University Dance Company Fall Concert. She has choreographed Beautiful Decay. This contemporary ballet is based off the myths and legends of butterflies. Brittingham has performed a wide variety of classical and contemporary principal roles by the world's leading choreographers. As a professional dancer with the Tulsa Ballet, she toured throughout the United States and Europe. She has been the recipient of many awards and her choreographic work is performed by numerous dance and theatre companies.
Heffner Hayes presents a restaging of her 2007 modern/contemporary work, Cradling Persephone, a retelling of the Persephone myth re-envisioned as a survivor narrative. She is a professor of Theatre & Dance and Interim Director of Dance in the Department and holds a Ph.D. in Critical Dance Studies from the University of California, Riverside. There, she choreographed solo and group works in both the postmodern and flamenco dance traditions. While Executive Director of Cultural Affairs at Miami Dade College, Hayes taught jazz dance and expressive movement for actors in the internationally-recognized bilingual theatre program, Prometeo. She performed as a flamenco choreographer and soloist at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in Palos Nuevos: The Jazz Flamenco Project in 2018. In addition to teaching and choreography, she has published books and articles in cultural studies about flamenco, contemporary dance, and improvisation.
Stewart joined the Department of Theatre & Dance in August as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Contemporary Dance. For this concert, she has restaged her contemporary work Field Notes on Survival on 10 dancers who use improvised and set material to make their way through a movement landscape with escalating risk. Stewart works interdisciplinarily, collaborating to make work for stages, galleries, film, specific sites and community rituals. As a performer, she’s worked with zoe | juniper, Tino Sehgal, Stefan Jovanovic, and Deborah Hay, Aurora Nealand, among other artists.
Tillman-Rayton is in her seventh year as a lecturer of Hip Hop technique and second year as a full-time lecturer. She set Sister Nancy, a hip-hop work based in African folklore and featuring animal gods, on KU students this semester. She debuted her work, entitled Stingy Lulu’s Jumping Juke Joint, at the 2023 KC Fringe Festival. Her works have previously been shown at KC Fringe Festival and at National Dance Week KC. Her dance teaching career spans 15 years in Lawrence and Kansas City communities, earning several choreography and entertainment awards. She is also a two-time scholarship recipient from Monsters of Hip Hop dance conventions and a co-founding member of the House of Dragons dance company. The KU alumna served as Unity Hip Hop Dance Crew president from 2001-2003 when she was a student.
Professional design team members are Rana Esfandiary, KU assistant professor of design and technology, as scenic designer, and Ann Sitzman, the Department’s technical coordinator and multi-term lecturer, as lighting designer. Student designers are Zoe English, junior theatre design major from Mission, and Lacey Marr, sophomore theatre design major from Shawnee, who are both serving as the costume designers. Additionally, Caitlyn Howard, senior visual and illustration and dance double major from Merriam, is projections designer on Tillman-Rayton’s work. Professional freelancer Victoria Frank is serving as guest stage manager.
Student dancers are McKenna Bizal, junior psychology and dance double major from Overland Park; Morgan Blanton, junior dance major from Wichita; Riley Brown, business marketing and strategic communications major from Houston, Texas; Hope Casner, senior dance and exercise science double major from Argonia; Alexandria Demps, junior dance major from Kansas City, Mo.; Olivia Dondzila, first-year student and strategic communications major from DeSoto; Sofia Dunkelberger, first-year student and dance major from Wichita; Cassidy Dunn, sophomore pre-nursing major from Lawrence; Sydney Ebner, senior dance major; Madeline Evenson, first-year student and astronomy major from Minneapolis, Minn.; Emma Faulkner, first-year student and speech pathology major from Springfield, Ill.; Mia Godinez, junior journalism & mass communications major from Chanute; Sophia Harrison, sophomore dance major from Topeka; Kayla Howard, first-year student and biochemistry major from Leland, N.C.; Aubree Johnston, senior dance major from Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Nina Katz, sophomore dance major from Lawrence; Cullen Krishna, junior dance and ecology double major from Bellevue, Neb.; Jazmyne Le, junior strategic communications major from Wichita; Abigail Lorenz, sophomore exercise science major from Schaumburg, Ill.; Breck Luedke, first-year student and dance major from Kearney, Neb.; Esther Brynn McBride, first-year student from Alameda, Calif.; Mahika Meesa, sophomore political science major from Overland Park; Savannah Meier, sophomore multimedia journalism major from Tampa, Fla.; Olly G. Mitchell, junior theatre in culture and society major from Maize; Cailan Niswonger, senior dance major from Flower Mound, Texas; Katie Noll, sophomore business analytics and dance double major from Overland Park; Sarah Perez, first-year student and psychology major from Wichita; Christie Phillips, senior psychology and dance double major from St. Louis, Mo.; Dylan Pope, first-year student from Naperville, Ill.; Eliana Rundus, sophomore dance major; Madi Seelye, sophomore dance major from Lawrence; Anna Shelton, junior dance major from Hesston; Sloane Smith, sophomore dance and exercise science double major from Littleton, Colo.; Ashley Stone, first-year student and dance major from Overland Park; Molly Stover-Brown, first-year student and illustration and dance double major from Wichita; Olivia Taylor, senior exercise science major from Lenexa, Nikolette Treadwell, junior dance major from Wichita; Joslyn Vetock, sophomore dance major from Omaha, Neb.; Steph Wirth, sophomore dance major from Topeka; and Rizzy Xiong, a sophomore education and psychology double major from Shanghai, China.
The University Dance Company concerts are funded in part by KU Student Senate. The University Dance Company is a production wing of the University of Kansas’ Department of Theatre & Dance.
The Department of Theatre & Dance is one of three departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies. For more information on the Department of Theatre & Dance, visit its academic page theatredance.ku.edu.