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Dance and Then Some:

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Forward Motion Dance Company
July 28-30, 8 p.m. • $12-$15
Hannah Block USO Community Arts Center
120 South 2nd Street


BENT ON CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT: (front) Kristin Tait, Tracey Varga, and (back) Tracy Rabalais, Jeneen Cleare will perform in Forward Motion’s upcoming dance performance. Courtesy photo

That which speaks to the movement of art comes from within—and especially from outward inspiration. Forward Motion Dance Company elaborates on such notions, as they open their annual performance, affected by a multitude of art forms, Thursday through Saturday night at the Community Arts Center. Featuring a mix of styles, from modern and jazz, to contemporary and African, the performance expands on acting, prose presentation, film, art and live music, too. All will add to its visual and audial excitement.

“The first half of the show will include live guitar music by Rick Tobey,” company choreographer Tracey Varga says. Tobey, local musician known for heading his band, Chickenhead Blues, will play “Istvan.” The piece was inspired by Varga’s father, whose name, Stevan, is the interpretation of Istvan in Hungarian. Adding even more of a personal note to the show, Tobey will play the piece on Varga’s father’s classical guitars.

“The honor of having my father as the inspiration cuts to my heart,” Varga says. “Personally, my father can no longer play guitar secondary to a chronic illness.”

Following will be modern dances to “What Was, What Is, What Is To Be,” part one of a Bob Dylan medley, while the second half includes a Bach piece, as well as a number by the Wilmington School of Ballet, who will perform to George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.” Afro Celt sounds, as well as a cello and guitar collaboration played by Richard Smith and Julie Adams, will act as the soundscape to other performances. All will be followed by part two of the Bob Dylan medley.

Including live music wasn’t the only mandate to Varga’s vision, which started last September; she wanted to encompass other visual arts into the show. For instance, the backdrop to “Istvan” will be a film by Oliver Mellan, which ran as part of the 2010 Dance-a-Lorus—something Forward Motion Dance Company heads for the independent film festival, Cucalorus, annually. Also participants in the 2011 NC Dance Festival, Forward Motion will reproduce their festival piece, “Gravitate…In the Clouds.”

“A strong, energetic dance, set to music by the Afro Celt Sound System, will be premiered with a metal sculpture created by local visual artist Doug Campbell as a focal part of the set,” Varga notes.

That a medley of Bob Dylan songs happen to coexist during the year of Dylan’s 70th birthday is happenstance; the piece was actually created in 2004. It will include prose, as enacted by returning dancers Bonnie Dixon, Kate Muhlstein and Samantha Williams. The music of Dylan will be played, as recorded by Neil Young, The Byrds, Mavis Staples, Cassandra Wilson, William Shatner and Dylan himself.

“His lyrics and prose are so timely today, with all that is going on in the world,” Varga explains. “His work continues to speak to you, make you ponder, think how what was going on 40 years ago is still challenging the universe today.”

Other dancers on the bill include Jeneen Cleare, Qaadir Hicks, Linda Larson and Julie Primm. According to Varga, they will perform “a new piece with a classical flair, set to a flute duet composed by W.F. Bach and performed live by local musicians Catherine Starek and Mary Gheen.”

As far as preparation and rehearsal for the event, the choreographer credits the success of her creative process to the determination of the artists and organizational fortitude. “The theme really is variety,” she says, “as well as collaboration. We want the audience to experience the special talents that are in our backyard; to expose a variety of artistic genres is an ongoing part of the company’s mission.”

Forward Motion Dance Company is a  nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, which has been bringing live art to life since 2001. Tickets to the event, held at the Hannah Block USO Community Arts Center, are only $12 for seniors, students and children under 12, and $15 for general public. Tickets can be purchased for the July 28th, 29th or 30th performances by calling 910-341-7860.

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