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Festival puts contemporary dance into the spotlight



Choreographer Lesley Snelson-Figueroa is one of five guest choreographers sculpting pieces for this weekend's 2007 Oklahoma Contemporary Dance Festival at Stage Center.

Her work "Too Close for Comfort" is a playful piece where women leap, roll and spin to the appropriate and delightfully weird whoops, hollers and chirps of innovative vocalist Meredith Monk.

"The festival is simply to educate, to put it out to the local community," Snelson-Figueroa said. "We want to push out there that this exists, that contemporary dance is an American art form."

Contemporary dance is an outgrowth of the traditional forms, she said, as dancers and choreographers broke away from the dogmatic disciplines to utilize the body's full range of movement and create completely original pieces.

"Ballet has a set vocabulary," she said. "You expect to see certain imagery when you go to the ballet. With contemporary dance, you're not quite sure what you'll see.  It should look new, it should look fresh, it should seem original."

While assembling a piece, she prefers to utilize the traditional along with more modern styles to make the works more accessible to the public.

"When people go to a dance concert, they usually have a standard of what they are going to see," Snelson-Figueroa said. "I try to blend the contemporary and the traditional, so people will see some of those ideas that they thought they would see, but they'll also see new things."

"?Charles Martin


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