Stage & Dance

UK's dance program struts its stuff in 'Loud and Clear'

Amanda Rentschler, front, and other students rehearsed last week for the University of Kentucky dance program's winter concert, Loud and Clear, at Guignol Theater.
Amanda Rentschler, front, and other students rehearsed last week for the University of Kentucky dance program's winter concert, Loud and Clear, at Guignol Theater. Lexington Herald-Leader

At last year's first winter dance concert, the University of Kentucky's dance program showcased the talents of students, displayed several styles of modern dance and introduced itself to Lexington.

This weekend, its second annual winter dance concert is titled Loud and Clear, and the name says it all. The UK theater department plans to make a statement of its capabilities that won't get lost in translation.

"I think there's a strong tradition of ballet in our city," said Nancy Jones, UK's theater chair and the producer of Loud and Clear. "I think what (audiences will) see now is that same caliber of modern dance."

Loud and Clear will comprise four works of contemporary dance featuring 18 UK students who are minoring in dance. Susan Thiel, UK's dance program coordinator and a lecturer, will present two works on different ends of the spectrum.

The first, Shuffling Data, will have an intriguing marriage of music and movement, combining contemporary jazz dance with traditional Czech folk songs.

"It really captures the feeling of the music," Thiel said. "Whatever's happening in the music, the body's emulating it."

Thiel's second work, Always Carry a Light Bulb, is a multimedia piece that uses a mix of scientific research, history, text and visual media, and improvisation through numerous dance genres to explore how creativity works in the brain.

"As a choreographer, a dance teacher, I have to be creative," Thiel said. "The thing that I don't think about is the science about it. That's a whole other realm I didn't think about, really."

Loud and Clear will also feature two guest choreographers. Stephanie Harris, a choreographer and executive director of the Lexington Art League, developed the piece I Will Walk With You. Centered on the value of remembrance and how life experiences shape each individual, it also features the installation piece Fallen by Becky Ally, the exhibitions and programs director at the Art League.

The UK dance program also brought in guest artist Amy Chavasse, a professor of dance at the University of Michigan and the artistic director of Chavasse Dance & Performance in Ann Arbor, Mich. She created the work Arriving at Turbulence with the UK dancers in only six days. Chavasse used the habitual movements and quirks of both herself and the dancers to serve as the movement material.

Thiel said she thinks audiences will be impressed with the eclectic concert the UK dance program is presenting. With another year of development and a great collaborative rehearsal process between students and choreographers, she hopes this concert introduces even more people in Lexington to modern dance while providing invaluable growth for its young performers.

"The dancers are so excited and open to trying new things," Thiel said. "I really believe from this year, the dancers are really developing their own creative voices and really developing their own palette."


UK Dance: 'Loud and Clear'

What: The winter dance concert from the dance division of the University of Kentucky department of theater

When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25, 26; and 2 p.m. Jan. 27

Where: UK Guignol Theatre, inside UK Fine Arts Building, Rose St. and Patterson Dr.

Tickets: $15, $10 students. Available by calling Singletary Center for the Arts ticket office, (859) 257-4929 or go to

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