Dance Program to Host Immersive Production Based on 'Romeo & Juliet'
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
The University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Music and Dance is proud to announce the 2016 University Dancers concert, entitled Peril in Thine Eye, an immersive dance experience based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Featuring contemporary arrangements of the score from Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet, Romeo and Juliet, and dialogue from Shakespeare’s play, Peril in Thine Eye will pull audience members into an evening-length production exploring themes of racial and cultural, sexual and gender, and political and economic tension set in a moody nightclub in a city called Verona.
Three performances will take place on the evenings of December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in Totman Gym on the UMass Amherst campus. Each evening’s performance will loop in three cycles, beginning at 7:30 p.m., 8:15 p.m., and 9:00 p.m.
In a departure for the University Dancers—directed by assistant professor in dance, Paul Dennis—Peril in Thine Eye will feature strong elements of theater. Working closely with dramaturge Gaven Trinidad, a master of fine arts candidate in the UMass Amherst Department of Theater, dance students and faculty have dissected the plot and themes of Shakespeare’s play, interpreting them through sound, sight, touch, and movement. The action of the story is layered and fractured, weaving through a set designed to have multiple scenes performed simultaneously while several characters develop along parallel timelines.
This layered presentation of a universally familiar tale allows student and faculty artists to develop a production that explores themes that might not immediately come to mind when thinking of Romeo and Juliet. The tragic romance is de-romanticized in this setting. As the audience moves through the performance, they’re asked to focus on more subtle elements of the play, such as forced marriage; the parent/child relationship; illicit relationships; love and violence; women in society; and gender identity.
“As a dance program our aim in this production is to strengthen and broaden our scope, artistic vision, and visibility in the university and region,” says Dennis, who, in addition to his faculty position at UMass Amherst, is a former member of the José Limón Dance Company and associate director of the White Mountains Summer Dance Festival. “As a faculty, we are forging our own sense of research and advancing our creative risk-taking,” he continues, “while challenging and encouraging student dancers to consider their own careers in the dance world.”
Tickets for Peril in Thine Eye are available for purchase through the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center website (fac.umass.edu). Totman Gym is located at 30 Eastman Lane, Amherst, MA.