Annual University Dancers Concerts Set for Dec. 6-7

Choreographer Sidra Bell opens a door to a world of shifting psychology in her piece “at the bazaar,” which premieres at the University Dancers’ concerts at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7. at Bowker Auditorium. 

Bell, choreographic artist in residence, uses 12 dancers’ bodies as intricate and detailed paintbrushes. Each dancer is called on to research and play with abstract movement phrases and specific images, such as wonder, play, risk, awareness, urban grit and infant development. The work is set to music by Dennis Bell, a composer, arranger and producer whose dance scores have been performed by Ailey II and at The Yard in Martha’s Vineyard, The Arts Umbrella in Vancouver, Yale University, the Juilliard and Perry Mansfield Schools. 

Sidra Bell’s acclaimed company, Sidra Bell Dance New York, presents innovative, kinetic and provocative dance theater works that have been seen in the U. S., Europe, China, Korea and South America.

Bell’s “at the bazaar”is one of four dances in the annual University Dancers show. In “Judgments,” choreographed by professor Billbob Brown, dancers perform on five very large boxes dressed in graduation robes, while another 20 boxes, colorful and painted with cartoon figures, adorn the stage. A 10-foot judge will preside. The work is a call for peace and understanding, while dealing with prejudice, racism, homophobia and misogyny. 

“Before/After,” choreographed by Ballet Austin’s Jennifer Hart, is set to “Fratres,” music for violin, strings and percussion by Arvo Pärt. The contemporary work is a moving and delicate ballet for eight dancers, one of whom is on pointe. The choreography interprets the waves and flow of the music with precision and abundance of breath. Also on the program is a work by the newest member of the dance faculty, Erica Wilson-Perkins.

Directed by professor Paul Dennis, the annual University Dancers concert includes choreography by nationally and internationally recognized artists, emerging artists, and UMass and Five College faculty members. Past choreographers have included Merce Cunningham, Mark Morris, Chuck Davis, Adrienne Hawkins, Anna Sokolow, Doug Varone, Randy James and George Balanchine. Dance majors audition for the group, the only college touring company in New England that offers ballet, modern and jazz dance performances, workshops and talks to schools, and community and retirement centers.

Tickets are $14 general public and $5 for students, children, seniors, and are available at the Fine Arts Center Box Office, 545-2511 or at