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OKC Ballet's 'Future Voices' uses a smaller stage to offer a closer look at dance's details, designers and directors



Future Voices
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday
Oklahoma City Ballet
Lyric Plaza Theatre
1727 N.W. 16th

A series of brand-new pieces created by some of the best and brightest dance artists in Central Oklahoma  premieres this weekend.

Friday and Saturday's "Future Voices" show also marks the first time that Oklahoma City Ballet has performed at the Lyric Plaza Theatre, a change from the group's normal performance venue, the much larger Civic Center Music Hall. The swap was designed to give audiences a more intimate experience with the dancers, said the company's artistic director, Robert Mills, who hopes the up-close setting offers a closer look at the subtler aspects of the performances.

"Yes, dance is very athletic, and people can appreciate the sheer prowess of these highly trained athletes and their unique abilities," he said, "but, on top of the technique, there needs to lie a quality, a persona, even if they are not portraying a character."

 The smaller space created a few challenges for the choreographers, Mills said. The total number of dancers was limited to six or fewer for one particular piece, and due to a lack of space in the wings, dancers won't risk any epic leaps or grand stage exits.

Many of the choreographers are also professional dancers with the company.

"This show and this process is, first and foremost, meant to be a learning tool for them," Mills said.

Master Jacob Sparso and company teacher/coach Alexa Fioroni have contributed to the performance, and Mills also reached out to dance professionals throughout the area.

"People may not know this, but Central Oklahoma has some of the best colleges and universities for dance in the U.S., and I wanted to be sure to involve all of them," Mills said.

Mary Margaret Holt, director of the school of dance at the University of Oklahoma; Jo Rowan, chairman and founder of the Oklahoma City University dance program; and Tina Kambour, assistant chair of the dance department at the University of Central Oklahoma have all created new works for "Future Voices."

 Mills said he also wanted to show off the "growing" professional dance scene, and invited the directors of local companies to participate; Michelle Dexter, artistic director of Perpetual Motion Modern Dance Company, and Hui Cha-Poos, artistic director of R.A.C.E. Dance Company have choreographed numbers.

"I have seen the work of all five of these artists and respect them very much for the incredible work they are doing for the dance community in Central Oklahoma," Mills said.

With so many choreographers with a variety of backgrounds, styles and techniques, he expects "Future Voices" to be a dynamic, fast-paced, multidisciplinary experience.

"Everything from classical ballet, contemporary, jazz dance, modern dance and even hip-hop will be on display," he said. "The musical accompaniment will range from Mozart to Ella Fitzgerald, and includes an original composition from local musician Mitch Bell."

To keep with the theme of giving the audience a more intimate appreciation of dance, a Q-and-A session with the choreographers follows the show.

"Many times, we watch dance, and we find appreciation in the dancers' abilities or revel in the scenery or costumes, or just enjoy the music," Mills said. "Behind all of that, someone had to conceptualize it all." "?Eric Webb

photo Jo Rowan and Darli Iakovleva rehearse for Oklahoma City Ballet's "Future Voices" showcase. photo/Shannon Cornman


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