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This article was prepared for the March 10, 2004 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Dancers Join Forces for Concert Program

Keeping art skills fresh and evolving as we age is one of the challenges and mysteries of the art-making process. “I’ll Have What She’s Having” is designed as an evening of innovative and risk-taking choreography by dancers who are old enough to know their stuff.

Christine Colosimo, director of dance at the Princeton YWCA, conceived the cooperative event for a diverse group of area woman choreographers age 35 and up. Featured are Marie Alonzo, Christine Colosimo, Fara Lindsay, Linda Mannheim, Deborah Orenstein, Paulette Sears, and Susan Tenney. The performance takes place at the Yvonne Theater, Rider University, on Saturday, March 13, at 8 p.m.

“I’ll Have What She’s Having” takes its title from the notorious restaurant scene in the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” in which Meg Ryan’s character behaves badly. Paulette Sears, an associate professor of dance at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts, is pleased to be working with the new group but says she doesn’t know much about the project title. She imagines that “maybe it suggests that when women reach a certain age they’re free to make noise in public.”

Sears’ contribution to the evening will be the solo “Revival,” originally created two years ago for dancer Michael Gary, artistic director of Acrodanse. Gary’s New Jersey company brings together praise dancing, gospel, contemporary dance, gymnastics, and jazz. “Revival” is set to a sound collage by Robert Benford, created from a recording of Max Roach drumming.

“I’ve been choreographing for 25 years,” says Sears, “and I always feel that my work is speaking to my time, my place, my interests, and my concerns of the moment.

“Yet as I mature as a choreographer, I become less concerned with pretty dance that may be people pleasing. I’m much more liberated to create and comment on subjects that concern me.”

When Gary and Sears began working on “Revival,” they experimented with an inclined plane that Sears’ son had built for his skateboarding. Eventually the inclined plane became an integral part of the work, a symbol of the struggle to overcome obstacles. “It almost becomes Michael’s partner in the dance,” says Sears.

“My hope always is that movement serve as a strong expressive outpouring of kinesthetic connection,” she says. “The work may not be typical, but I’m more concerned with powerfully connecting with my audience. I want to rouse my audience to become a participant in the artistic process.”

The program also features Marie Alonzo’s poignant duet, “Unveiling the Bamboo,” with text by area poet Elizabeth Madden-Zibman, and music by Jeff Nathanson. Drawing on the sorrowful stories and images of the once-vibrant women of Afghanistan as they suffered under Taliban rule, Alonzo’s dance follows its subjects through life stages, from the ravages of stolen dignity to freedom and personal fulfillment.

Alonzo earned her MFA in dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and earned her doctorate in arts education from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she has taught and presented papers on Asian-American modern dance. She has performed with HT Chen & Dancers, Asian-American Dance Theatre, Ruby Shang, and Hikari Baba Dancers. Her work has also been produced by New York’s Mulberry Street Theater. She has been described by Jennifer Dunning, dance critic of the New York Times, as “a wonderfully bold and intense performer.”

Linda Mannheim will present “Just a Little Something,” danced to live percussion music by Ranjit Arapurakal. “This is a short piece of seductive athleticism in which the dance becomes a delicious physical and rhythmical dialogue between dancer and percussionist,” she says. Born in Syracuse, New York, Mannheim did not begin dancing until her senior year in high school. She attended Florida State University where she earned her BFA and MFA in dance.

“Everything that I had done earlier I had done easily,” she says. “Dance was the first thing that I tried that I really felt very challenged by. It required physicality and a focus — with incredible attention to mind and body.”

After college, Mannheim apprenticed with the Martha Graham Dance Company. She performed and taught in Washington, D.C. for 13 years, where she was a professor of dance at American University and also served on the faculties of the Washington Ballet and the Maryland Youth Ballet. Now on the faculty of Princeton Dance and Theater Studio, she is a certified Pilates instructor.

“We were all wondering where the other modern dancers in the area were, and we all found each other. It’s been a rich and wonderful collaboration — we personally and professionally enjoy each other,” says Mannheim.

I’ll Have What She’s Having Dance Project, Rider Uni-versity, Yvonne Theater, Route 206, Lawrenceville, 609-497-2100, ext. 332. $15. Saturday, March 13, 8 p.m.

Professional dance artists interested in joining the cooperative can contact Christine Colosimo at the YWCA, 609-497-2100, ext. 332.

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