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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
"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
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
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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