Wright State Dance Ensemble presents ‘new generation of dance’ in spring concert

The Wright State Dance Ensemble’s Spring Dance Concert will feature pieces by renowned guest choreographers, Gavin Stewart and Vanessa Owen and Alison Reny, Wright State dance faculty, Dayton Ballet II and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company 2. (Photos by Scot Robbins)

The Wright State University dance students will shine in a variety of stunning choreographic works crafted to move audiences’ spirits during the Spring Dance Concert 2023 from April 20 to 23.

The concert will feature pieces by Gina Gardner Walther, head of dance at Wright State, and Ashley Pabst, lecturer of dance, and renowned guest choreographers, Gavin Stewart and Vanessa Owen and Alison Reny. The concert will also include works by the Dance Ensemble’s partner training companies, Dayton Ballet II and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company 2.

Performances take place in the Festival Playhouse in the Creative Arts Center on Thursday, April 20, at 7 p.m.; Friday, April 21, and Saturday, April 22, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 23, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for students. Wright State students can attend the April 20 concert for free by showing their Wright1 Card. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the theatre box office at 937-775-2500.

The Spring Dance Concert is inspired by connections and artistic family. Owen and Reny earned Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Dance from Wright State and are esteemed members of the Wright State Dance Ensemble family.

“We are proud to spotlight the creativity and talent of these gifted alumni who have become mature dance artists on the national stage,” Walther said. “Dance fills the heart with joy and expresses emotions we cannot put into words.”

The concert also highlights the work of current Wright State dance students, who receive rigorous training and focused individual attention, allowing them to push the boundaries of dance and discover their own artistry, Walther said.

The concert will feature “Memory Affair,” a new work by Gavin Stewart and Owen, husband-and-wife founders of Stewart/Owen Dance in North Carolina. Their tailor-made repertoire includes an exciting collection of contemporary choreography.

“Why not live blissfully in the past, in complete denial of present reality? Set in an imaginary bygone time, ‘Memory Affair’ is a zany piece exploring nostalgia, escapism and inhibition,” Owen and Stewart said.

The Wright State Dance Ensemble will present its Spring Dance Concert April 20–23 in the Festival Playhouse in the Creative Arts Center.

The concert will also premiere a piece choreographed by Reny that focuses on visual and rhythmic patterns while bringing to the forefront the power and determination of its dancers.

Reny fell in love with teaching and choreographing while she was a student at Wright State and is now the director of dance at the Toledo School for the Arts and choreographer for the Limitless Dance Company.

Pabsts’ “Swing” is a fun, flirty and jazzy ballet set to music by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and the Count Basie Orchestra. This piece highlights the diverse talent of the members of the Wright State Dance Ensemble.

Walther’s “Dark & Light” is a sleek modern dance piece for 10 dancers that explores personal resilience through time and movement.

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