Acclaimed choreographer John Gardner rehearses “CHINBOBLESS.”
ELSAH — Principia College’s Department of Theatre and Dance will present its annual Dance Production Thursday, April 2, through Saturday, April 4, in Cox Auditorium, nightly at 8 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday.
This year’s production will debut “CHINBOBLESS,” choreographed by former American Ballet Theatre dancer John Gardner with guest artist former ABT prima ballerina Amanda McKerrow, along with student dancers. The music for “CHINBOBLESS” — Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3” — will be performed live on Principia’s 3,069-pipe Casavant organ.
During their careers, Gardner and McKerrow performed and worked with renowned dancers and choreographers, including George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor, among others. Since retiring from the stage, they have worked as répétiteurs for the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust, traveling to Europe, Japan, and throughout the United States staging its exceptional repertoire.
For several years now, Gardner and McKerrow have conducted workshops at Principia College, providing a rare opportunity for undergraduates to study with world-class dancers. Stepping into new territory this year, Gardner wove classicism and humor into “CHINBOBLESS,” the third original ballet he has created for Principia dancers.
“The inspiration for ‘CHINBOBLESS’ came from Bach’s music,” Gardner says. “My first intention was to create a dance that would attempt to bring it into a visual dimension. But what resulted in the process was really something more atmospheric — the feeling of some sort of chance encounter between music and people that surprises and delights with laughter.”
In its entirety, Dance Production will feature 40 student dancers, showcasing ballet, modern, lyrical and African dance styles. Also included in the program is a dance that explores the relationship between physics and movement — a collaboration between Dr. Laurance Doyle, director of Principia’s Institute for the Metaphysics of Physics; Jim Hegarty, director of special programs and a former music professor; and dance professor Hilary Harper-Wilcoxen.
“This year’s show is full of variety, excitement and humor,” Harper-Wilcoxen says. “Our eight student choreographers have outdone themselves, and our three alumni artists bring a depth and breadth of experience to the stage that is very exciting. We continue to be blessed by our guest artists John Gardner and Amanda McKerrow and are deeply honored to be premiering Gardner’s newest creation, ‘CHINBOBLESS,’ to Bach’s glorious ‘Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.’”
Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students. Learn more and purchase tickets at www.principiacollege.edu/danceproduction. Cash and checks will be accepted at the door. Seating is unreserved.