In the City by Danny Buraczeski, SMU Meadows Spring Dance Concert 2018

In the City by Danny Buraczeski, part of a seven-work tribute to the retiring SMU professor in the Meadows 2018 Spring Dance Concert. All photos: Paul Phillips

The SMU Meadows 2018 Spring Dance Concert honors retiring jazz dance faculty artist Danny Buraczeski with a retrospective of seven of his works. The concert will be presented in two alternating programs, April 4-8, 2018, in SMU’s Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center.

Featured will be dances created over the past 30 years for professional companies and for SMU students, ranging from 1989’s Merry Go Round to In the City, which premiered in 2013 at SMU’s “Meadows at the Winspear” concert. Performers will include current students; alumni Albert Drake and Adrián Aguirre; and the Zenon Dance Company from Minneapolis, long-time collaborators of Buraczeski’s who performed his critically acclaimed Ezekiel’s Wheel in 2016 in Cuba.

> SMU Forum: Spring Dance Concert to honor retiring SMU dance faculty artist Danny Buraczeski

The concert programs include the following works, to be performed on the days listed:

Program A, to be performed April 4, 5 and 7, opens with In the City (2013), based on “Three Dance Episodes” from the popular Leonard Bernstein musical On the Town. Inspired by the urban rhythms and textures of Bernstein’s music, the work features 15 dancers celebrating youth, optimism and the vibrant new energy that the Dallas Arts District has brought to the city.

It’s followed by Scene Unseen (1998), set to music by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington, featuring a duet with alumni Albert Drake, a founding member of Bruce Wood Dance Project, and Adrián Aguirre, a current member of the company.

Song Awakened (2001) follows, a work set to the songs of the late Cesária Évora, a noted singer of Creole-Portuguese soul music. The work, which debuted to critical acclaim at New York’s Joyce Theater, will be performed by eight Zenon Dance Company members.

The next piece, Points on a Curve (1998), is danced to music by Ornette Coleman; The New York Times said the low-key choreography evoked the music “in often witty and thought-provoking ways.”

Program A concludes with Swing Concerto (1994), an athletic and ebullient exploration of the relationship between two musical traditions: European klezmer music and the American swing of Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman. The piece synthesizes the grounded qualities of folk dance with the exuberance of swing era movement. The Times wrote, “Swing Concerto is Mr. Buraczeski’s choreography at its most inventive, perceptive best.”

Program B, to be performed April 6 and 8, opens with the aforementioned In the City, followed by Merry Go Round (1989), set to music by Glenn Miller and the Army Air Force Band and featuring Zenon company dancers Scott Mettille and Sarah Steichen Stiles.

Next is Points on a Curve (noted above).

The final work in Program B will vary. On April 6, it will be Ezekiel’s Wheel (1999), a piece for eight dancers that was inspired by the life and work of author and civil rights activist James Baldwin. The work, exploring the themes of recognition, responsibility and redemption, will be performed by Zenon Dance Company. Commissioned when Buraczeski was artistic director of the acclaimed Minneapolis-based JAZZDANCE, Ezekiel’s Wheel was praised by The Times as “a balm for the soul in troubled times.”

On April 8, the concert program will conclude with the aforementioned Swing Concerto.

Performance times are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8 for students, SMU faculty and staff. Buy your tickets online or contact the Meadows Ticket Office at 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

Buy Meadows Spring Dance Concert tickets online at Vendini

Enjoy a gallery of can’t-miss photos from Swing Concerto, Points On a Curve and In the City, all by Paul Phillips.