Sunday, January 21, 2018
Events

Production to showcase artistic talents of John Leggio students

Here is the second-most important thing to remember if you go see Art in Motion, the end-of-year show put on by students and faculty from John Leggio's Center for the Performing Arts: The shows start at either 2 or 7 p.m., but you need to get in your seat early, because the opening number is a doozy, and latecomers won't be seated while it happens. In fact, you might want to be there 20 or 30 minutes early because dancers will be doing interesting stuff on stage even before the show starts.

Of course, the most important thing to remember about Leggio's show is that it's a show, not a recital in the traditional sense of the word. Many of the performers, especially many in the elite, 18-member Xcel Company, are professionals who have performed at Disney World and at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre. That troupe will be featured in 20 of the 35 segments of the two-plus-hour show, center founder/owner/choreographer Leggio said.

In addition, internationally known dancer/choreographer Terry Beeman is flying in from Los Angeles to create and direct some of the dance numbers. And professional singer Lisa Watson (Forbidden Broadway at the Straz Center) will perform.

Art in Motion came from Leggio's idea of putting famous artwork to movement.

"Art inspires music; music inspires dance," he said.

At first, it was a straightforward enactment of a painting. Over time, though, Leggio has expanded it to include other artistic expressions — sculpture, story inspired by music, music trends.

"We still have hip-hop, upbeat, Broadway, but it's more artsy," he said.

The show will have aerialists, as previous ones have, but their bodies will suggest sculptures as much as acrobatics. The hip-hop dancers will do "a New York City gang-type of thing," spraying graffiti that turns into art.

The opening number sets the tone. Accompanied by music from Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George, the dancers whirl, leap and turn on a huge canvas spread on the floor, making circles, rectangles and loops with feet and sock-covered hands that appear to have been dipped in paint. After a while, they tie the canvas to a wide rod that is lifted to make a backdrop for a live re-creation of George Seurat's iconic A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte.

"We'll have splashes of color — a red umbrella for example — with dancers all in black," Leggio said.

Sometimes the music itself suggests a work of art, such as Don McLean-Vincent's Vincent (Starry, Starry Night), which itself was inspired by the Van Gogh painting Starry Night. In another segment, the dancers don T-shirts with Marilyn Monroe's picture on them to dance to David Bowie's Andy Warhol.

"It's a very '70s kind of style," Leggio said.

The emphasis will be on the dancers, not the costumes or sets, Leggio said. Light designer Tom Hansen will project images not only onto the stage, but also onto the sides of the auditorium to give the feel of a black box theater, where the space is adapted to the needs of the production.

"There are a few moments of glitz and large production (numbers), as we always do," Leggio said. "But this is a very mature and professional approach, similar to a contemporary/modern or concert dance style of work."

Each choreographer has been encouraged to work around his or her specialty, pick a piece of music that has been inspirational and create an individual piece of work. That may mean Bang-Bang from The Great Gatsby, Sara Bareille's Brave or something by the Kronos Quartet. It could be classical ballet done to Lynyrd Skynyrd's country/pop A Simple Man. And, like Broadway today, there will be many numbers by young dancers — Naughty from Matilda the Musical, for instance.

One number features Brandon Michael Woolridge (Benjamin in Joseph/Dreamcoat at the Show Palace) dancing to Little Mix's Wings as a Michael Jordan video runs in the background. Members of the Xcel Company created some of their own moves in workshops and classes, Leggio said.

"It has a little bit for everybody, but it's going to be very unique and very artistic," Leggio said. "For people who love art, it's going to be great for them."

 
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