Although dance is among the most vibrant of the performing arts,
it's often bedeviled by the notion that it's not for the average
person and that enjoying it requires special knowledge that might
not be worth the trouble to attain.
But in St. Louis, that attitude is becoming a thing of the past.
The annual Spring to Dance Festival, held each Memorial Day weekend
since 2008, has attracted people who may not know the difference
between ballet virtuoso Mikhail Baryshnikov and game-changing
statesman Mikhail Gorbachev but can relate to the magic of bodies in
motion. And next weekend, another showcase for ballet and modern
dance is set to make its debut: "New Dance Horizons," which will
feature four local companies performing works by nationally
"New Dance Horizons" is presented by Dance St. Louis, which
commissioned the choreographers and is also the organization behind
the Spring to Dance Festival. Michael Uthoff, executive and artistic
director of Dance St. Louis, said the new event is intended to focus
a spotlight on St. Louis-based companies while serving as a platform
to help raise their national profiles.
"The biggest challenge that most companies have is finding good
works to produce, and the money to produce them," Uthoff said. "New
Dance Horizons," he said, addresses both issues while allowing the
artists to take creative risks.
The companies to be showcased, which were chosen based on their
reputations and potential, are Common Thread Contemporary Dance
Company, Leverage Dance Theater (formerly aTrek Dance Collective),
MADCO and St. Louis Ballet. The program will include Jessica Lang's
"Anonymous" (Common Thread), Victoria Marks' "Dancing to Music"
(Leverage), Gina Patterson's "Second Line" (MADCO) and Pam
Tanowitz's "La Tristesse de St. Louis (A Ballet)" (St. Louis
Stacy West, executive and artistic director of MADCO, said "New
Dance Horizons" is just the kind of venture that the St. Louis dance
"I had really wanted to work with Gina Patterson, and then this
opportunity came up," said West, adding that she is impressed with
choreographers who "use highly technically trained dancers, but put
really creative and inventive movement on them. I feel like she has
a knack for that, and that style is great for MADCO."
Lang's "Anonymous" meshes well with the style of Common Thread,
said Jennifer Medina, the company's artistic director. …