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This article by Barbara Figge Fox was prepared for the March 5, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Princeton Dances for Peace

Dancer Helena Froehlich had a week to decide whether

to uproot her career and move with her four children from Alsace,

France, so her husband, Juergen, could take a job at Bristol-Myers

Squibb. When she visited the Princeton Ballet School’s studio in August,

2001, she knew that Princeton could be her dance home.

Now she teaches advanced modern and children’s ballet classes at the

school, performs in Cheryl Whitney’s Reverence Dance Company, and

is choreographing for her own troupe, Compagnie Creation D. She works

with Princeton-based dancers, and her company adds energy and flavor

to the dance scene here.

Froehlich joins a group called Arts and Community for Peace in "Music,

Dance and Song," a benefit for the Coalition for Peace Action

and HomeFront on Saturday, March 8, at 8 p.m. at the Arts Council

of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street. The dance styles will include

flamenco (Lisa Bottalico), Japanese (Takako Araki), Middle Eastern

(the Raks Odalisque troupe of Princeton University), and modern —

Susan Tenney and Dancers and Sharon Steiner, in addition to Froehlich,

who will present a new piece entitled "Don’t Miss the Boat."

The troupe also performs on Saturday, March 22 at Princeton University’s

Frist Theater in a International Center concert that will reprise

"Don’t Miss the Boat" and also present "Beyond."

The daughter of a Lutheran minister who disapproved of dance studies,

Froehlich set her heart on a dance career at age three but took her

first classes when she was 10. On a French government scholarship

she studied with Merce Cunningham and Alwin Nikolais, modern dance

masters known for non-narrative dance, yet she has found her own movement

voice — infused with spirituality, laden with meaning, and oh-so-beautiful

to watch.

"Beyond" premiered at a peace concert at the Princeton Ballet

School on January 4. Four dancers (Eri Tanaka Millrod, Carolyn Biondi,

Jamuna Dasi, and Froehlich) wear business blazers and frenetically

pace perilously close to two stacks of wooden blocks. When the blocks

topple, the dancers — rigid in shock — reel to the floor,

in spasms trying to help each other rise, then sprawling. Shedding

their coats, they retrieve the blocks. With ritual intensity they

slide them in scrubwomen’s arcs. The music has changed from the driving

rhythm of a Vivaldi cello solo to a dissonant score by Hans Tutschku,

and is now the uplifting, lyrical voices of Vivaldi’s "Et in Terra

Pax."

As the dancers’ rhythms of anguish alternate from violent

to legato, they walk on the blocks, slide on them in paths, pause

to unfold themselves into arabesques, arc the blocks high in lyrical

circles, and pass them along — always changing patterns, always

using the rubble of tragedy to keep on keeping on.

It’s a powerful, legible message. "I go from where the movement

starts and what meaning it has," she says in an interview. "If

I do choreography that does not express a meaning or an emotion, then

still the movement has a meaning. I try to find our connection to

the earth and to bring positive images to all of us living here. Compagnie

Creation D is an homage to the creation of the earth. The D is dance

but also for design. I don’t say I `create’ but that I am opening

up to inspiration, healing, and the harmony of the earth."

— Barbara Figge Fox

Music, Dance, and Song, Arts and Community for Peace,

Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street, 609-924-7193. A

benefit for the Coalition for Peace Action and HomeFront, $5 donation.

Saturday, March 8, 8 p.m.


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