Students at Manhattanville College have been training and rehearsing with Bessie Award winner Marta Renzi and Keith Saunders, the Ballet Master at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, in preparation of the Fall Dance Concert.
“This has been great fun for me,” Renzi said adding that it is a nice break from making dance films.
“I was happy to be invited back and to make the piece that I made,” Saunders said. He also served as guest choreographer for the Fall Dance Concert in 2008.
Both said that the biggest challenge has been only getting to spend several hours a week with the students, compared to many hours every day with a professional company. However the professionalism of the students to meet on their own and come to rehearsals prepared has helped.
“I don’t have to baby them,” Renzi said. Saunders agreed saying he has not treated them any differently than the professional dancers he works with.
Renzi has designed a “good old fashioned abstract, modern dance,” to a piece written by Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw for her 10 dancers to perform for the concert.
After meeting with his group of eight dancers Saunders decided that a barefoot “dance work” based on what they would be comfortable with. They will be dancing to a fleet of five Beatles songs.
In addition to winning a New York Dance & Performance Award (a Bessie) for her dance “Vital Signs,” in 1992, Renzi is a seven-time recipient of the Choreographic Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Saunders first joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem as a dancer in 1975 and served in various roles for 17 years, including principal dancer. He was named Ballet Master in 1996 and also served as director of Dancing Through Barriers, an education and outreach initiative for the Dance Theatre of Harlem, from 2004 through 2010.
The dance concert will feature student work as well as the pieces being choreographed by Renzi and Saunders.
The concert will take place Nov. 14 through 16 with shows at 8 p.m. and a final show on Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. Admission is $5 with a Manhattanville I.D. or $10 for the general public. All shows will take place in the Little Theatre in Brownson Hall at Manhattanville College, 2900 Purchase St., Purchase, N.Y.
For reservations call (914)323-7175.